(Bloomberg) — Anglo American Plc raised the possibility that it could start buying assets in South Africa, the latest sign of how much has changed in two years, when the miner was focused on selling.
“We no longer have any for sale sign,” Norman Mbazima, deputy chairman of Anglo American’s South African unit, said in an interview Monday. “It is possible to invest in South Africa. We have got hope right now.”
After a collapse in commodity prices in 2015, the mining blue-chip talked about selling assets in South Africa, the home of its biggest diamond, iron ore and platinum mines. While the company sold some coal and platinum mines, that policy is now dead. Some of the mines are now cash cows for Anglo as commodity prices reach multi-year highs.
“We like everything that we are in right now,” he said. “If there are opportunities to expand in those, we would.”
The company said any purchases in South Africa would have to be competitive, and deliver the right return on investment. Still, the mood in South African mining is starting to change after Cyril Ramaphosa was elected to head the ruling African National Congress. In Davos, Ramaphosa said urgent action is needed to resolve the impasse between government and business over South Africa’s mining charter.
Anglo’s commitment to South Africa will win support from its biggest shareholders. Billionaire mining executive Anil Agarwal called the country an integral part of Anglo. South Africa’s Public Investment Corp., the second-biggest shareholder, has also long argued for the creation of a domestic mining champion.
“We have no intentions of spinning off Anglo Platinum to a localized company,” Mbazima said of the company’s platinum unit.
Story by Thomas Biesheuvel and Felix Njin; edited by Lynn Thomasson and Liezel Hill.
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