African Rainbow Looking at Platinum Purchases, Motsepe Says

African Rainbow Minerals Ltd., the South African mining company controlled by billionaire Patrice Motsepe, is looking at opportunities to buy platinum mines in the country, he said.

“Platinum is a key sector for us,” Motsepe, the richest black South African, said in a Bloomberg Television interview in Davos, Switzerland, where he’s attending the World Economic Forum. “We’ve been looking for the last few years and there are good opportunities.” The company is looking at assets on the eastern and western limbs of the Bushveld Complex, the richest source of platinum in the world.

Anglo American Platinum Ltd., the biggest producer of the metal globally, said Jan. 15 it planned idle four shafts and sell its Union mine as part of plans to return to profit. Mining companies in South Africa are struggling to cope with higher output costs after a spate of strikes led to above-inflation wage gains. Producers in the continent’s largest economy shut nine platinum-mine shafts and dismissed 3,332 workers in the second half of last year, according to the Department of Mineral Resources.

African Rainbow Minerals has a joint venture with Anglo American Platinum at Modikwa Deeps.

Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said the government could revoke mining licenses owned by Anglo if it continues with its proposal. Gwede Mantashe, secretary-general of the ruling African National Congress, yesterday accused London-based Anglo American Plc of theft after its platinum unit announced the restructuring plan, which may result in as many as 14,000 job losses. He said the country needs to take “bigger interest and control” of mines.

Nationalization Failure

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union’s president, Joseph Mathunjwa, called for the shut shafts to be nationalized.

“The track record of nationalization speaks for itself,” Motsepe said. “It’s been a failure. Private-sector partnerships with labor and government have proven themselves worldwide.”

African Rainbow has interests in gold, ferrous metals, base metals and platinum. Its stock price rose 11 percent last year.

Motsepe is also chairman of Harmony Gold Mining Co., Africa’s third-largest bullion producer.

“The challenge is we have to run our companies in the mining industry in a globally competitive manner,” he said.

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