Posted on Tuesday, 29 July 2014 13:19

South Africa's ANC prefers local buyer for Amplats mines

By Joe Brock in Johannesburg (Reuters)

ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe says it would be quite important to have a South African company buying Amplats assets but it is not a choice of the ANC. Photo©ReutersSouth Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) would like a local company to buy mines being sold by Anglo American Platinum but it will not try and influence the deal, the party said on Tuesday.

The world's biggest platinum producer, a unit of Anglo American, said last week it would sell a swathe of its most labour-intensive South African mines after a five-month strike hit its revenues and as it follows a long-term pivot to mechanised operations.

Our dream is to have a South African mining champion

"Our dream is to have a South African mining champion," ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe, who formerly headed the National Union of Mineworkers, told reporters.

"It would be quite important to have a South African company buying those assets but it is not a choice of the ANC. We are not going to go to Amplats and say: 'select this consortium'."

The ANC leadership says it wants to encourage foreign investment but it also has long-standing policies aimed at boosting South African participation in the private sector.

After white-majority rule ended in 1994, the ANC introduced a Black Economic Empowerment law to redress some of the inequalities of apartheid by ensuring companies increased black ownership and numbers of black workers.

One of the front-runners to buy Amplats assets is South Africa's Sibanye Gold, whose chief executive Neal Froneman told Reuters in July he wanted a platinum deal before the end of 2014 and could easily raise $1 billion to seal one.

Sibanye also has Chinese investors, bringing it a cheap potential source of funding.

Another Chinese-backed company, Wesizwe Platinum, has also said it was looking at possibly buying further assets in the sector.

Some analysts have said poor labour relations and high costs make the mines Amplats is selling almost worthless, while other experts value them as high as $2 billion.

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