Merafe Resources CEO Zanele Matlala has expressed concern regarding labour challenges in the industry, adding that that wage negotiations had been successfully concluded.

“The mining industry is the backbone of the SA economy and we must take into account that there lots of jobs at stake. We employ about 10 000 people and the mining sector is the biggest sector in terms of foreign exchange earned. It might take longer than expected to resolve some of the issues but we need to find a way for industry to work together,” she said.

Merafe Resources is looking for opportunities to diversify, saying that diversification remains a key part of its strategy. However, the JSE-listed clack-owned mining company added that “With no immediate major expansionary capital investment planned, we look forward to repaying our debt, paying dividends and pursuing value-enhancing opportunities for our shareholders.” Merafe did not pay a dividend in 2013.

Currently, Merafe’s debt facility is at R606 million, compared with R441 million in December 31 2012. Merafe is also currently service a R581 million Absa loan, coupled with an overdraft facility of R96 million. The company has a joint venture with Glencore Xstrata.

Merafe’s headline earnings per share (HEPS) have increased by 118% to 10.8 cents for the year to end-December 2013 cents compared with 5.1 cents received in its half year 2012 interims, with a 38% rise in revenue to R3.5 billion. The steel producer also reported a 23% increase in ferrochrome sales to 314 000 tonnes and a 17% benefit due to the weakening in the rand against the dollar.