SUIT­ORS LINE UP TO BUY KOPANANG

Black-owned con­sor­tium re­port­edly ready to of­fer R330m for age­ing mine in North West as An­gloGold in­sti­tutes re­trench­ments

CityPress - - Business & Tenders - LE­SETJA MALOPE le­setja.malope@city­press.co.za Ac­tive To Se closeZ In­ac­tive

An­gloGold Ashanti has at least three par­ties in­ter­ested in buy­ing its Kopanang mine near Klerks­dorp in North West. It is one of two op­er­a­tions the com­pany plans to shut down. The com­pany has made all prospec­tive buy­ers sign nondis­clo­sure agree­ments that re­strict them from talk­ing about their re­spec­tive bids.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion ob­tained by City Press from at least four well-placed sources who are privy to the mat­ter, one of the bid­ders is a 100% black­owned con­sor­tium.

The con­sor­tium, which has reg­is­tered a com­pany called Kopanang Shaft 9 with the Com­pa­nies and In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Com­mis­sion, is led by lo­cal min­ing en­gi­neer Lebo Ramorule and Kopanang mine man­ager Stephen Many­athela.

Kopanang Shaft 9 is re­port­edly pre­par­ing a bid of more than R330 mil­lion. An­gloGold needs slightly less than that to set­tle all the re­trench­ment pack­ages for the mine work­ers.

The con­sor­tium is plan­ning to bid as a man­age­ment takeover, with Ramorule as the only out­sider. The con­sor­tium will in­clude an 8% stake each for a com­mu­nity trust and an em­ployee scheme.

Ac­cord­ing to a Com­pa­nies and In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Com­mis­sion re­port, the com­pany Kopanang Shaft 9 was only reg­is­tered on Tues­day, and only has Ramorule and Many­athela as di­rec­tors.

Ramorule de­clined to com­ment af­ter a list of ques­tions was sent to him.

The sec­ond prospec­tive buyer of the 4 000-worker strong Kopanang mine is an­other con­sor­tium said to be led by the Chi­nese own­ers of an­other mine in the area, Tau Lekoa Gold Mine in Orkney, of which Owen O’Brien is the CEO.

O’Brien said he could not com­ment on the mat­ter. The Tau Lekoa con­sor­tium is said to have strong fi­nan­cial back­ing and should not have a prob­lem meet­ing what­ever price An­gloGold de­mands, un­like its fel­low black bid­ders.

The third buyer in the hat is Har­mony Gold, which has re­port­edly been ey­ing An­gloGold’s lo­cal as­sets for a long time. Min­ing mag­nate Pa­trice Mot­sepe is nonex­ec­u­tive chair of Har­mony.

Har­mony spokesper­son Mar­ian van der Walt de­clined to con­firm or deny the mat­ter.

City Press has also seen documents that An­gloGold sent to prospec­tive buy­ers in which it set a dead­line for a for­mal of­fer pro­posal to be sub­mit­ted, which is a week be­fore the 60-day re­trench­ment dead­line. The documents also give buy­ers ac­cess to and per­mis­sion for in­for­ma­tion they may need for their re­spec­tive pro­pos­als.

Ac­cord­ing to the documents, which form part of the con­fi­den­tial nondis­clo­sure agree­ment, the bid­ders are sup­posed to pay what­ever amount agreed upon wholly up­front.

Ac­cord­ing to a source, the con­di­tions are de­signed in such a way that the 100% black-owned con­sor­tium will come up short be­cause the cap­i­tal needed for such a trans­ac­tion, which is said to be sev­eral hun­dred mil­lion In June, An­gloGolZ Ashanti saiZ it woulZ cut up to 4 000 joSs at

anZ place the mine on care anZ main­te­nance

Kopanang

rand, would have to be sourced via an ap­pli­ca­tion from ei­ther a fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tion or gov­ern­ment.

The doc­u­ment states that An­gloGold needs “100% cash up­front”. It also lists the as­sets that will be sold, which ex­clude the Kopanang gold plant and the mar­ginal ore rock dump, and out­lines that the main as­sets in­cluded the trans­ac­tion would es­sen­tially be the Kopanang mine, Kopanang res­i­dences and the west gold plant.

The bid­ders are also ex­pected to sub­mit a de­tailed busi­ness plan with in­for­ma­tion re­lat­ing to the en­vis­aged life of the mine.

The doc­u­ment, signed by An­gloGold ex­ec­u­tive vi­cepres­i­dent for strat­egy and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, Charles Carter, reads: “An­gloGold Ashanti’s pref­er­ence is to con­clude an agree­ment as soon as pos­si­ble, and any such due dili­gence will be re­quired to be un­der­taken in par­al­lel with the ne­go­ti­a­tion of the sale agree­ments so as to not fur­ther delay the an­nounce­ment and im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pro­posed trans­ac­tion.”

An­gloGold spokesper­son Chris Nthite also de­clined to speak about the sale.

“We don’t com­ment on any cor­po­rate ac­tiv­ity un­til we have some­thing that can be re­ported to the whole mar­ket,” Nthite said.

An­gloGold an­nounced in June that it would be re­trench­ing 8 500 work­ers at two op­er­a­tions – 4 000 work­ers from Kopanang and 4 500 from Tau Tona – and would shut the mines, which was a move that raised eye­brows as the com­pany has so far not shut down a mine in the coun­try, but had in­stead opted to sell age­ing mines.

Mean­while, the com­pany has not sus­pended its re­trench­ment process and, on Tues­day, started with its stake­holder meet­ing fa­cil­i­tated by the depart­ment of min­eral re­sources.

Ac­cord­ing to two in­de­pen­dent sources who at­tended the meet­ing, the forum, which discussed the so­cioe­co­nomic and labour im­pli­ca­tions of the re­trench­ments, left a bit­ter taste in the mouths of some of the stake­hold­ers as the com­pany was ac­cused of bom­bard­ing them with tech­ni­cal re­ports.

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