COLUMN-For coal miners, it’s time to exit or get rich – by Clyde Russell (Reuters U.S. – February 25, 2018)

LAUNCESTON, Australia, Feb 26 – It seems coal miners are adopting one of two disparate strategies, either exit the business in a highly visible way to buff up your climate credentials, or sit tight, keep as quiet as possible and rake in the cash.

An example of the public exit from the business is South32 , the Perth-based miner spun out of BHP Billiton which is in the process of selling out of its thermal coal assets in South Africa.

Mike Fraser, South32’s president and chief operating office for South Africa, told Reuters earlier this month that the company was aiming to sell its coal assets because it “did not believe in the commodity.” It would also be better if the coal mines were majority-owned by black investors, Fraser said.

This is a reasonable recognition that it’s increasingly hard for companies without black investors to do business in South Africa, given its laws and rules aimed at promoting the economic interests of the majority population following centuries of discrimination under first colonial and then white-minority rule.

South32 joins Anglo American in getting out of South African coal, with the London-listed miner selling the last of its domestic coal assets to a majority black-owned company in January.

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