Potgieter bolsters Implats mining ops

[miningmx.com] — IMPALA Platinum (Implats) has appointed mining engineer Gerhard Potgieter as consulting mining engineer and group executive: growth projects.

Potgieter – who for the past three years has been MD for the African operations of Norilsk Nickel – will take up his position from the beginning of July and will report directly to CEO David Brown .

His appointment is seen as a move by Brown to fill a gap in technical mining expertise at Implats top management levels.

The group has experienced a number of mining problems on its core Rustenburg shaft systems over the past two years.

In early April, it was disclosed that two former senior Implats mining executives – former CEO John Smithies and former head of Rustenburg operations Paul Visser – had been recalled from retirement to help out on a part-time basis.

Potgieter has extensive technical experience across gold, platinum and base metals in the SA mining industry. He has commissioned a number of mines including Target Gold, Two Rivers Platinum, Modikwa Platinum, Tati Nickel and Nkomati Nickel.

The shortage of technical mining expertise at the top management level in Implats has been highlighted on a number of occasions by JP Morgan Cazenove analysts Steve Shepherd and Allan Cooke.

In a recent research report, the analysts commented favourably on the performance of mining engineer Neville Nicolau – CEO of Anglo Platinum – on the turnaround under way at the firm.

They likened his impact to the work of two former Implats CEOs, Smithies and the late Steve Kearney, both of whom were mining engineers.

Current Implats CEO David Brown is an accountant and was the group’s financial director before being appointed to the top job.

In a report published on March 24, the JP Morgan Cazenove analysts said: “We continue to believe the appointment of a hard-hitting professional mining engineer to direct the group’s mining ops in South Africa is needed.’

In that report, the analysts said they were concerned about the absence of professional mining engineers at Implats “head office and senior top operations management levels’

This was because mining engineering challenges and risks would increase as the operations at the Rustenburg shafts got deeper.

“Mining companies generally employ senior mining professionals in top line management positions to mentor, support, interrogate and direct the work and operating logic of younger, less experienced subordinate mining managers to aid safety and efficiency and to create smooth succession,’ the analysts noted.

The writer owns shares in Impala Platinum.