South African Mines Minister to Sell His Platinum-Company Stake

South Africa’s mines minister will sell his shares in platinum producer Atlatsa Resources Corp., which were bought before he was appointed to the Cabinet.

Ngoako Ramatlhodi, who was made mineral resources minister in May, holds the interest in Vancouver-based Atlatsa through a stake bought by his former wife in Legakabje Mining and Exploration, his spokesman Mahlodi Muofhe said today by phone. Anglo American Platinum Ltd., the world’s largest producer of the metal, also has a 22.5 percent holding in Atlatsa, whose main asset is the Bokoni mine in South Africa’s Limpopo province, where Ramatlhodi served as premier from 1994 to 2004.

Ramatlhodi instructed his attorney to transfer his business interests to a blind trust when he took office, Muofhe said. The lawyer then advised “it would be more appropriate to dispose of these interests completely” in order to avoid “any conflict of interests,” Muofhe said.

Within his first month of assuming office, Ramatlhodi mediated wage talks between the world’s three largest platinum producers, including Amplats, and the main union at their mines in South Africa to break a five-month strike that contributed to a contraction in the country’s gross domestic product in the first quarter. He has also asked President Jacob Zuma to hold off on signing a new mineral resources law so that the legislation, which is opposed by companies including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Total SA, can be reviewed.

Ramatlhodi’s stake in Legakabje is estimated at 20 million rand ($1.9 million), Johannesburg-based Mail and Guardian newspaper reported today. Muofhe was unable to confirm the value of the shareholding.

Ramatlhodi declared all his business interests when he was elected as a member of parliament in 2009 after an absence from public office for five years, Muofhe said.

“The minister is open about the interests and has absolutely nothing to hide,” Muofhe said.

Cyril Ramaphosa, who was last month appointed as South Africa’s deputy president, agreed to combine his interest in his Shanduka Group with a company controlled by Phuthuma Nhleko, the man who built MTN Group Ltd. into Africa’s biggest mobile-phone operator, as he focuses on politics.

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