Optimum CEO
Mike Teke
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 04 February 2011 – South Africa’s fourth-largest coal producer, Optimum Coal Holdings Limited, says it may bid for undeveloped coal reserves held by larger competitor BHP Billiton, as rising prices boost demand.

“Let’s review all these assets they put on the table and see which ones we consider,” Optimum CEO Mike Teke said in a telephone interview from the city..

Optimum, majority-owned by black investors, is looking for ways to boost production to meet higher demand for coal. The price of the fuel shipped through South Africa’s Richards Bay terminal rose about 60% last year to US$129.75/t, according to IHS McCloskey data on Bloomberg.

Earlier this week, BHP bidders for some undeveloped coal prospects, saying black investor groups could expand their participation in the industry. The government is pushing mining companies to sell equity and projects to black people, who were disenfranchised by the apartheid regime that ended in 1994.

Optimum rose as much as 3.6% to R34.20 in Johannesburg trading after announcing a fourfold increase in fiscal first-half profit. Net income advanced to R274.6 million in the six months to 31 December from R69.7 million a year earlier, as output and prices rose, the company revealed in a statement.