Anooraq appointee presages Anglo’s ‘new deal’

[] – ANOORAQ Resources has appointed seasoned mining
boss Dawid Stander as Managing Director of its Bokoni Platinum Mines – a
development interpreted by an analyst as the first announcement of a potentially
dramatic week for the black-owned platinum firm.

“I’ve heard that Anooraq is expected to unveil a restructuring and recapitalisation
plan with Anglo American Platinum [Amplats] before the start of this
year’s Mining Indaba conference [scheduled to begin on February 6, Sunday],” said
an analyst who wished to remain anonymous.

It’s thought that Amplats and Anooraq have now concluded a refinancing
arrangement after starting discussions almost a year ago. Anooraq has been trading
under cautionary throughout that time.

Last year it was speculated that Anooraq would ‘sell’ back to Amplats long-dated
mineral resources in return for easing its R3bn debt pile.

According to market speculation, however, the transaction between the two parties
is broader than that and involves fast-tracked development of Bokoni Mines’ other

In its announcement of Stander’s appointment, Anooraq’s CEO, Harold Motaung, and
Vishu Pillay, Executive Head of Anglo American Platinum’s Joint Venture Operations,
said Bokoni Mines was headed for “a new and exciting growth phase”.

The appointment of Stander serves notice that Anooraq and Amplats have to finally
resolve the underperformance of Anooraq’s platinum assets once and for all. Stander
was originally drafted in to Bokoni mines by Barry Davison, the former CEO and
chairman of Amplats, when the asset was still called Lebowa Platinum. Stander
presided over a dramatic improvement in the asset’s fortunes.

“During this period Bokoni Platinum Mines expanded its annual production base by
100% from 100,000 PGM ounces to 200,000 PGM ounces,” Anooraq said in its
announcement on Wednesday.

Bokoni Mines has failed to perform ever since Anooraq took ownership of the
operation in 2009 in an empowerment deal that Anglo American said was a milestone
event for South African business. Production did not grow and rising costs left
Anooraq short of cash to finance its original R1.7bn debt package.

Unfortunately, the financial and later economic crisis of 2008 helped compound
Anooraq’s difficulties.