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Moratorium aside, Zwane approves Lonmin’s bid to acquire Anglo’s Pandora stake

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi  Zwane has given platinum major Lonmin the go-ahead to acquire Anglo American Platinum’s (Amplats) 42.5% stake in the Pandora platinum joint venture (JV) operation, which saves the 3 000 jobs that would have been lost had the operation been placed under care and maintenance.

Zwane granted consent for the cession of the right in terms of Section 11 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act.

With Lonmin having acquired the remaining 7.5% stake in the Pandora platinum operation from Northam Platinum in May, this acquisition increases Lonmin’s ownership interest in the Pandora JV to 92.5%.

Before the acquisition, the Pandora JV was 50% held by Lonmin subsidiary Eastern Platinum, 42.5% by Amplats through Rustenburg Platinum and 7.5% by Northam, through Mvelaphanda Resources Proprietary.

“One of our primary considerations when assessing [Lonmin’s] application was how we were best going to prevent retrenchments at the time,” noted the Minister in a statement released Wednesday.

“We are indeed pleased that we have been able to save 3 000 jobs, particularly in the current global economic climate.”

Zwane added, however, that Lonmin had five days to issue the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) with a plan on how it would address broad-based black economic-empowerment compliance at Pandora, as the DMR “cannot afford a situation where transformation is compromised”.

“We are a reasonable regulator and apply our laws consistently to all right-holders. We continue to appeal to right-holders to make use of our open-door policy and engage with us frankly and openly on issues pertaining to this critical sector of our economy. We will always put the interests of South Africa and its people first in all our deliberations,” concluded Zwane.

The Minister’s approval of Lonmin’s application to acquire Amplats’ stake in Pandora comes amidst his proposed moratorium on the granting or renewal of mining and prospecting rights, the granting of mining and prospecting rights renewals, the granting of applications for the transfer of mining and prospecting rights, and the sale and transfer of a majority shareholding in holders of these rights, which has been met with the contempt of the public and civil society organisations, who have dismissed the move as illegal, irrational and unreasonable.

Zwane has essentially proposed that these activities be restricted until the High Court delivers its judgement on the implementation of Mining Charter 3.

The Minister’s proposal is open for public comment until August 4.

 

Source: Mining Weekly