Speculation rife over likely bidder for Mponeng

2019-11-03 16:32

The world’s deepest gold mine is up for grabs, and those companies with deep pockets are in the race for the prized asset.

Mponeng, which is 3.7km deep, is the last major asset owned by AngloGold Ashanti in South Africa. The mining company has resolved to sell it in order to invest in other foreign markets.

AngloGold spokesperson Chris Nthite declined to offer any details of the prospective buyers.

“We do not comment on the specific aspects of the process, including prospective bidders, with which we have confidentiality agreements,” he said.

“We are committed to ensuring that the process is conducted with the appropriate thoroughness in order to ensure the best possible outcome for all stakeholders.

“Our priority is to ensure that the assets are sold to a buyer with the appropriate technical skills, including underground mining expertise and experience, along with the necessary financial capacity to sustain these assets.”

Nthite said that there was no specific deadline for the conclusion of the sale of Mponeng. The mine currently employs 4 800 people and, in the third quarter of this year, produced 65 000 ounces of gold at a total cash cost of $967 an ounce.

However, City Press can reveal that at least three independent sources – including highly placed employees at AngloGold and Sibanye-Stillwater – have tipped Harmony Gold and Sibanye-Stillwater to be among the frontrunners for the Carltonville-based mine.

A third company, Heaven-Sent SA Sunshine Investment Company, is also in the running. A Chinese capital management company headquartered in Hong Kong, it currently holds a 74% stake in Village Main Reef, which owns and operates the Tau Lekoa gold mine in Klerksdorp, North West.

Sibanye spokesperson James Wellsted declined to confirm or deny whether the company had submitted a bid for the mine.

Village Main Reef, which employs almost 6 500 people across the two operations, also declined to comment. Its spokesperson, James Duncan, said he could not comment on whether the company had submitted a bid or not.

Harmony spokesperson Sihle Maake also declined to comment. Harmony currently employs 38 000 people across its 10 underground mines, with Tshepong mine being its largest operation.

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November 17 2019