Death, Strikes, Rising Costs Show Mining’s Hard Sell for New CEO – by Kevin Crowley (Bloomberg News – June 9, 2016)

Wanted: Mining executive who can make money when prices and output fall, will halt skyrocketing costs, and is willing to accept a salary paid in one of the world’s weakest currencies.

That’s the potential job description for whoever replaces Terence Goodlace as chief executive officer at Johannesburg-based Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., the second-largest producer of the precious metal. Goodlace, 57, said last month he plans to soon resign, ending a four-year tenure that saw one of South Africa’s most reliable cash cows diminished by plunging platinum prices, strikes and fatal accidents.

outh Africa is home to about three-quarters of the world’s platinum reserves and is a major source of commodities from gold to diamonds. But extracting them is difficult and expensive.

Some of the world’s deepest mines were built using cheap, mostly black miners working in dangerous conditions, and the industry has been slow to mechanize, which would allow developed-world pay and prevent more fatal accidents. Temperatures deep in the Earth can reach 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit), enough to fry an egg.

On top of all that is the country’s history of whites-only rule, which ended in 1994 and creates unique challenges for executives. The next chief at Impala, like the rest of the mining industry, will face growing demands from the government to erase the remnants of apartheid through expanded social benefits and increased minority ownership, efforts that can conflict with the interests of investors.

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