Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 14 October 2008 – South Africa may revamp a dormant state-owned company to buy and run mining operations across the country’s metals portfolio, but it will definitely not consider nationalisation of mining assets.
Reporting from here today, Reuters quoted a government spokesman as saying the company – African Exploration, Finance and Mining Corporation – was expected to operate alongside other mining firms in South Africa, but it was unclear in which sector the company would focus its operations.
South Africa produces gold, platinum, diamonds, uranium, coal, iron ore and various base metals.
The sectors are dominated by global heavyweights, including Africa’s top gold producer, AngloGold Ashanti; the world’s No. 1 platinum producer, Anglo Platinum; and diamond giant De Beers, which is 45%-owned by Anglo American Plc.
Reuters reports that an advisory council will meet on Thursday this week and formally advise the mining minister on whether to revive the company or to go for joint private sector and public companies.
The suggestion to revamp the company was proposed at a sector mining conference held last month, when black-owned companies with little financing or expertise to operate mines suggested that the firm could run their assets.
Some participants suggested formation of state and private sector partnerships similar to Botswana’s diamond producer Debswana, which is jointly owned by that country’s government and top diamonds producer De Beers.
Other participants suggested nationalisation of assets already owned by private companies, or the taking away of any company’s rights, but the government would not consider this.
“The policy of nationalisation is not government policy, it is not an option and is not on the table,” Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) spokesman Bheki Khumalo emphasised. “We have no intention on the side of government to nationalise anything.” Khumalo added that only a minority had proposed nationalisation.
DME deputy director general Jacinto Rocha says the state will be involved in mining.“If there are platinum opportunities, we are going to get involved, either directly as a miner or indirectly as a shareholder,” he added.