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Oct 01, 2010

01/10/2010 (On-The-Air)

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Every Friday morning, SAfm's AMLive's radio anchor Caesar Molebatsi speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday's At the Coalface transcript:

Molebatsi: At last, the Bafokeng community are listing their very own platinum company on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Creamer: The Bafokeng community have been a model of how to develop themselves economically and now they no longer going to be the passenger in the plane, they are not even going to be co-pilot, they are going to be the pilot.

They have now got their own platinum assets and it is going to be under Royal Bafokeng Platinum. It is going to be listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange before the end of the year. We have seen them have interests in other companies and we've seen them build up their wealth and now they are going to be an owner and operator and manager with their own people in.

They are actually going to produce and market that platinum. So, a tremendous achievement for what will be RB Platinum.

Molebatsi: Now, of course, this is a real BBBEE investment. How many people benefit from this and how do they actually keep it up?

Creamer: There are about 300 000 people from this. You can see the visible demonstrable wealth creation when you go into Phokeng and you see the roads and the schools and the houses and even the sport stadiums.

One thing they do is that they hold their leadership to account. They even have mass meetings within the sports stadiums where they robustly ask questions of their leadership as to what they are doing with the wealth.

Molebatsi: A hundred years ago they made a wise investment didn't they?

Creamer: Well that King a hundred years ago realised the importance of title deeds. You must get title to the property and he sent a regiment down to Kimberley to earn some cash from the diamond mines.

Then they came running back and gave him that cash and he was able to buy this property, which has leveraged enormous wealth for the community.

Molebatsi: Well continue with matters related to diamonds, we understand that De Beers is to sell off another two of its South African diamond mines.

Creamer: De Beers has become a serial seller of diamond mines after being a pioneer here and it now can pass on the mines that no longer fit its criteria to others. We see that one persons poison may be another persons meat.

We saw Petra Diamonds take over five of their assets and doing very well with their assets. We saw this week Jagersfontein is going to a broad based BEE company and there is still more to sell. De Beers is still going to sell Namaqualand and also Finsch.

Finsch is an historic mine that has done very well in the Northern Cape, but it is no longer meeting those strict criteria, particularly commercial criteria, that De Beers have. So it is offering them to others and those negotiations are taking place as we speak.

Molebatsi: Mining has a major role to play to grow South Africa's economy, says global company Xstrata.

Creamer: You know, it seems like something that we shouldn't have to repeat, but Xstrata took the trouble to present at GIBS University this week to reemphasise the fact that actually the way South African economy is going to grow needs the mining industry, it needs that mining and beneficiation.

We see how much we lost out during the last boom. Most other mining countries grew by 5% during that 2001 to 2008. We shrunk by 1%, which means we lost 45 000 permanent job opportunities plus an injection of more then R50-billion into our economy.

We are seeing another boom starting to appear, because that economic meltdown was a financial meltdown that involved banks. It never actually changed the fundamentals of the commodities business, where demand is still strong and supply is static.

So, you know again we are moving into another bubble period for commodities and South Africa mustn't lose this time round. The last time we lost was mainly because of energy and transport constraints. We are still in those positions where we can not really beneficiate without energy.

You need energy and you can't export without getting your product to markets. So you need those two, logistics and energy.

Molebatsi: Now the President has been in Antwerp as you know and I was astounded that Antwerp has been dealing with diamonds for 500 years. The President was saying that after 500 years that surely they should be prepared to help us beneficiate.

Creamer: We need to beneficiate and things like diamonds wouldn't be an energy intensive situation, so there is more prospect for doing that.

But, if you want to beneficiate across the broad spectrum, of course, you need strong energy and we still haven't got all the answers out of the people who run our energy business and strong logistics and we still need some answers from the transport people.

Molebatsi: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly, he'll be back with us at the same time next week.

Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter
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