THE frustration goes on for Joel Kesler and his Atlatsa Resources, the Johannesburg-listed platinum company which is in joint venture with Anglo American in Bokoni Platinum Mines. On paper, Bokoni is slated to produce 240,000 ounces of platinum group metals, but a combination of poor metal prices and operational under-performance has left Anglo’s key black economic empowerment initiative in a critical conditon. Atlatsa has been refinanced multiple times, but it’s clear that the latest $29.9m interest-free loan offered to the company had ‘a bite the bullet’ precondition attached to it which saw Kesler sanction the reduction in some 3,500 jobs, virtually halving the workforce. Old shafts were closed in favour of the new Brakfontein and Middelpunt UG2 underground projects, but the restructuring led to further ramp-up delays which means production targets have been pushed out another year. Bokoni’s Klipfontein open cast mine was also closed. In the meantime, Kesler is working with Anglo and the Department of Mineral Resources in finding a new partner to buy Anglo’s 49% stake in Bokoni which has the complicating overlay of uncertainty over the ‘once-empowered, always-empowered’ controversy. At least the restructuring earlier this year improved Atlatsa’s finances with its interim loss falling to C$19.7m from C$127.9m in the previous year.
LIFE OF JOEL
A qualified lawyer, Kesler serves on Atlatsa’s executive committee and oversees the company’s corporate development. He is also the company’s corporate secretary.
“The frustration goes on.”
- Web Address: www.atlatsaresources.co.za