Johannesburg and Abidjan – Anglo American is in advanced talks to sell some of its South African platinum mines, as the UK group deepens its efforts to get rid of underperforming parts of its sprawling global operations.
The group said on Thursday that Amplats, its South African subsidiary, was in discussions with Sibanye Gold, a South African gold miner, over a sale of Anglo’s troubled Rustenburg platinum operations north west of Johannesburg.
Selling a slew of poor-quality assets has been a key priority for Anglo’s chief executive Mark Cutifani as he battles to improve the group’s financial performance while miners grapple with a prolonged collapse in commodity prices. Shares in mining companies have slumped amid global concern over the economic slowdown in China, the industry’s dominant customer.
Anglo’s South African exposure, and in particular its prominence in the platinum sector, has been one of the biggest concerns for investors. The Rustenburg operations are particularly problematic as they are lossmaking and have been at the heart of labour unrest in South Africa’s platinum industry.
An exit from Rustenburg — with three mines and a workforce of about 16,000 — would deepen the changes Mr Cutifani has promised at Anglo. In August the miner sold some of its Chilean copper mines and plants for up to $500m, while the sale of coal deposits in Australia is also on the cards.
Sibanye — which is the biggest producer of South African gold — has been in talks with Amplats about a possible purchase for about a year but discussions had now accelerated, said people familiar with the talks.
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