South Africa's Sekunjalo Investments may allow mining companies to operate embattled junior miner Pamodzi Gold if it takes over its struggling pits, a senior official said on Thursday.
Sekunjalo is leading a consortium that has made an offer to purchase Pamodzi Gold for up to $150 million, backed by a group of ruling Middle East families, which had $500 million to invest in the mining sector.
The way that we may do this is to say to the other mines, you guys operate it, because quite frankly, we are not going to operate it, Iqbal Surve, Sekunjalo executive chairman, told Reuters.
Possible partners could include Simmers and Jack.
About 15,000 mine workers could lose their jobs if cash-strapped Pamodzi, which has already asked court-appointed judicial managers to take over one of its mines, goes under.
The company, which owns mines in South Africa's main mining provinces of the Free State and Gauteng, has struggled to pay its workers and creditors.
At this stage certainly the preliminary approach is to engage with current miners that are adjacent to (Pamodzi's mines), Surve said.
Surve said Pamodzi was seriously undercapitalised, but with gold fetching around $800 an ounce, Sekunjalo thought the offer to purchase made good business sense.
But we are under no illusion about the level of funding that would be required... and based on the expenditure made to date, we had worked out this figure of plus-minus $100 million to really get, particularly East Rand, going, he said.
Surve said Standard Bank had been appointed as the transaction advisor and hopes this would speed up the process.
The Sekunjalo-led black economic empowerment partners in the consortium would be entitled to 30 percent of the deal, he said.
Conditions of the purchase included an exclusivity clause and a due diligence study being undertaken, particularly around Pamodzi's hedge book liabilities, which for one mine alone stood at around 800 million rand, Surve said.
However, Surve, who also chaired the Saudi-South Africa Business Council, said the Middle East families were bullish about gold and had invested billions of dollars in gold mines in China and Canada.
Our partners have had massive success having invested in the gold mining sector globally, in China, in Canada, not in Africa, but in other parts of the world, he said.
Their view is that gold is going to be a very important hedge against the weakening U.S dollar. He said the families were looking for further mining acquisitions in South Africa.
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