Friday, June 22, 2018
Paul Dunne

Paul Dunne

Northam Platinum

PAUL Dunne’s track record at Northam Platinum since he took over in 2014 has been stellar. He’s executed a series of canny deals that has transformed the industry’s problem child into a group with excellent growth prospects, while holding down costs, with Dunne claiming Northam as the lowest-cost producer in the South African platinum sector after publication of the group’s 2017 financial results. When discussing this aspect, Dunne always gives credit to his predecessor – the hard-bitten, chain-smoking Glyn Lewis – for the foundations that he laid in turning Northam around before Dunne got to the company. But, late in 2017, Dunne also put in a challenge for a position long held by Platinum Group Metals’ CEO R. Michael (Motormouth) Jones: that of the biggest optimist in the platinum business. Dunne said he was getting excited about prospects for the metal – which promptly dropped further in price, causing Dunne to ruefully reflect that he should have kept his mouth shut! But he is sticking to his optimistic guns about an inevitable turnaround, pointing to rising demand from China and the ongoing supply crunch in South Africa, which produces more than 70% of the world’s platinum. He also maintains that there will always be demand for platinum from petrol and diesel-powered vehicles despite “... the demonisation of diesel engines and the hype around battery-power electric vehicles”.

LIFE OF PAUL

He’s an electrical engineer by training who joined Impala Platinum in 1987 with a BSc Hons and an MBA and rose through the ranks, eventually becoming executive director of South African operations responsible for all mining, concentrating and smelting operations. Things at Implats turned sour for him when former CEO David Brown – who had a financial background –was replaced by Terence Goodlace who was a mining engineer. Goodlace apparently started interfering on Dunne’s turf, leading to a bust-up and Dunne’s departure to Northam.