SA Platinum: New Benchmark: Black Owned, Managed, Run

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"Bafokeng land sits on the world's largest platinum reserves."

A new black economic-empowerment (BEE) benchmark has been set in the South African mining business with the creation of the Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RBPlat) mining company.

This benchmark is made up of a combination of black ownership, black management and black workforce.

The Bafokeng land stretches from Sun City to Rustenburg, taking in a large slice of Anglo Platinum's Rustenburg Platinum Mines' operations and most of the lease area of Impala Platinum, in which the Bafokeng community has a 13% interest, sitting on the land on which the world's major platinum operations are located. The community has a commercial asset base worth R30-billion and an annual social development budget of R800-million, funded from investment income.

Foreign investors liked the large, long-life, low-cost asset base that RBPlat offers, and are clearly also comforted by the extent of black involvement.

Mine nationalization protagonists are more likely to target mining companies with less black involvement, another reason see merit in the R20-billion pre-listing offer for RBPlat that was made by Impala Platinum.

But RBPlat was unable to do so following a veto by Anglo Platinum. The Bafokeng already own more than 13% of Impala Platinum and the deal would have elevated the community's shareholding to the mid-20% level, putting the community in the corridors of power of the world's second- largest platinum mine.

"If the Impala deal had been done, it would have increased the critical mass dramatically, and set a benchmark for the rest of the industry," Royal Bafokeng Holdings CEO Niall Carroll commented.

"The more wealth that gets created, the more people will want to get their personal share. The courts will decide," Carroll comments.

Answering court papers are due in the North West High Court by February, and parties will decide on a date to proceed with the case.

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