‘Let’s count the mines that will be operating in 18 years. You will run out of mines before you run out of fingers’
THERE are not many aspects of the junior mining industry that Paul Miller has not become involved in. As an investment banker he specialised in mining projects; he then ran Keaton Energy before helping start-up operators through a CCP 12J Fund. His latest gig with AmaranthCX focuses on the other side of the equation, with the mining company as a customer. AmaranthCX concentrates on company sales teams, arguing that if they are better organised, more consistent and more collaborative, they will have a competitive advantage when selling complex products to sophisticated customers.
But most in the South African mining industry know Miller not as a smooth-talking uber salesman but as a no-nonsense industry analyst. In truth, few escape his withering assessments, including the country's asset management industry, the JSE, politicians, regulators and executives. Miller told delegates at the Joburg Indaba mining conference last year that the current crop of South African mining graduates would be unemployed by 2040 because there would be so few operating mines left by then.
He also criticised the Minerals Council for quibbling with the Fraser Institute’s rock-bottom ranking of South Africa’s mining industry, finally accusing executives of hypocrisy by acknowledging this situation in private – but not public – in sending their children to work elsewhere. Miller has long railed against the government for its inefficiencies and ideological approach, which have hamstrung the South African mining sector despite the oft-stated official line from the Minerals Council that things were getting better through behind-the-scenes negotiation.
He’s been proved right time and again. Miller’s arch nemesis is Gwede Mantashe, South African mines minister, who he claims has done enormous damage to the sector. This enmity may well continue as neither Miller nor Mantashe are heading for the exit door just yet.
LIFE OF PAUL
Miller holds a BComm Honours from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, which he obtained in 1993, and completed an Advanced Management Programme in 2015 at INSEAD in Singapore. He spent eight years with Nedbank in corporate and investment banking, during which time he was heavily involved in the listing of Eland Platinum and the relaunch of long-time mining entrepreneur Loucas Pouroulis. He then got his hands dirty operating directly in the mining industry itself as the MD of coal junior Keaton Energy. He returned to Nedbank but then in 2018 set up the CCP 12J Fund. He started up AmaranthCX in 2020.