Niël Pretorius
Rainmakers & Potstirrers

Niël Pretorius


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‘The private sector is systematically extending its influence over strategic services and infrastructure and, in so doing, reducing the risk of an absent and incompetent state’

PRETORIUS pulls no punches in his assessment of the South African political, social and business situations and he put the boot in big time at his 2023 interim results presentation. He said: “The state is no longer just a source of drag on the economy – it is in consistent default of its constitutional mandate and has now become a threat to the economy and the quality of life of ordinary South Africans.”

Strong stuff, but Pretorius has always stressed the ability of the South African private sector to cope and, in October, he held out the possibility of “the emergence of a younger, externally focused, political leadership eager to collaborate with the private sector and intent on lifting the quality of service delivery”. That political development is not yet obvious, but there’s no denying the impact the private sector is having on the general economy, in particular dealing with Eskom’s power failures. Pretorius reckons there is now an estimated 4.4 gigawatts of installed solar power capacity in the country – the equivalent of two stages of load shedding – thanks to the solar projects built by DRDGold and many other private sector groups.

Pretorius has also shed some light on an aspect of DRDGold’s future that many investors are focused on, which is its possible involvement in recovering platinum group metals and chrome from the tailings dumps owned by its major shareholder – Sibanye-Stillwater. He says DRDGold’s team has identified two “very attractive” projects which the company has offered to develop but “execution is not simple”. Pretorius indicates the decision to proceed rests with Sibanye-Stillwater.


Pretorius joined DRDGold in 2003 as its legal adviser. He then worked his way up the management ranks to become CEO in January 2009 and has demonstrated an ability to identify strategic opportunities that would help DRDGold’s growth. The most important of these was increasing DRDGold’s minority stake in the Ergo project, established by the late Peter Skeat with backing from Australian junior Mintails. Skeat fell  out with his Australian partners and DRDGold steadily built up its stake as Mintails got into financial trouble. Ergo is now DRDGold’s flagship operation.

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