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Miners go to SA but leave their chequebooks at home

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With its iconic mountain, beaches and vineyards, you can easily attract global mining bosses and fund managers to Cape Town. Yet as a large number of executives, shareholders and officials flock to Africa for any annual Mining Indaba, the industry’s investments are flowing the opposite way.

A mix off shrinking reserves, rising labor costs, frequent stoppages and regulatory uncertainty has prompted major miners to rethink their presence in the united kingdom, the location of the earth’s largest platinum, chrome, and manganese reserves as well as method of obtaining one-third of all gold ever mined.

Anglo American, once a keystone within the economy, is selling half its assets in the united states, while BHP Billiton and Gold Fields both spun off their local operations up to now four years. AngloGold Ashanti tried to conduct the same. Africa, which was the world’s largest gold producer for that century until 2007, has recently dropped to sixth place.

“They’re difficult mines from a tough operating environment with wage inflation constantly eating away at margins,” said Neil Gregson, who manages about $2.5 billion of natural-resources stocks at JPMorgan Asset Management working in london. “Increasingly, you require specialized management teams running those assets. We do not see any growth there.”

About 6 000 attendees will be required for the Mining Indaba, which starts Februart 6. Executives from companies including Anglo American, Rio Tinto Group, AngloGold Ashanti and South32 are scheduled to communicate in at the event, Africa’s biggest resource industry conference.

As the most important miners shift their priorities elsewhere, investors are valuing South Africa-focused stocks more cheaply than global peers. The FTSE/JSE Africa Mining Index trades at 1.Thrice book value, weighed against 1.9 times to your Bloomberg World Mining Index. The measure for South African stocks may be inexpensively on the figure for that global index during the last 5 years, excluding during a month in 2013.


Even Sibanye Gold, the locally focused spin removed from Gold Fields, decided to proceed to the US for its largest acquisition thus far. The firm had previously stated its intention to buy to use home country or elsewhere in Africa and took investors by surprise in December by using a plan to buy Montana-based Stillwater Mining Co. for $2.2 billion.

“They’ve chosen to go overseas to the acquisition rather then something closer to home, it helps guide you politically difficult it is actually to seal things in Nigeria,” said Michael Rawlinson, co-head of metals and mining investment banking at Barclays Plc, which lends money to Sibanye.

Many in the South African mining industry’s problems come from its turbulent and oppressive past. Mines, particularly gold, were largely built by cheap labor, minimal safety standards and plentiful electricity, with profits flowing on their white proprietors to the exclusion in the black majority. White minority rule under apartheid resulted in 1994.

Above-Inflation Wage Increases

To redress the inequity of apartheid, the costa rica government wants mining companies to become 26% properties of black investors, even though those investors later sell their stakes. Companies argue this tends to lead to continual dilution.?The Chamber of Mines said today it restarted talks while using government a few weeks ago for the issue.

“Security over tenure is a concern for all of us,” JPMorgan’s Gregson said.

After regarding green century of intensive mining, resources have been depleted, unions have commanded above-inflation wage increases, safety breaches are drawing increased scrutiny from government and power is increasingly expensive. The made its first net loss since no less than 2009 in through June, as commodity prices plunged, in accordance with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Gold production near you declined by nearly half to 144.5 metric tons and production of platinum-group metals dropped 11% during the decade to 2015, according to the Chamber of Mines. Labor costs, that make up another within the industry’s overall expenses, almost tripled to R117 billion ($8.8 billion) 12 months. Still, mining is the reason 1 / 2 the country’s export earnings.

Safety Stoppages

The government has irked companies by imposing the things they say are unnecessary safety stoppages that cost production. At around 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) underground, the country’s gold mines include the deepest using one of quite possibly the most dangerous on the earth, typically employing thousands of workers mainly using hand-held drills.

If international investors and mining firms are deterred by South Africa’s challenges, locals could be able to step up. Patrice Motsepe, executive chairman of?African Rainbow Minerals and who had success buying unwanted gold mines in the late 1990s, said a few weeks ago he’s once again aiming to snap up unloved South African assets.

“South Africa has good infrastructure, it’s great technical skills, it’s got a good good mining,” Barclays’s Rawlinson said. “But too long history means the very best deposits are developed. To produce for any it should be easy. That easiness fully gone.”

? 2017 Bloomberg

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