“The main issue we are watching closely is off take levels from our customers, including Eskom.”
As part of the recovery narrative, Demana has installed a new mining contractor; employed more senior management staff; and taken steps to improve productivity. Yet the balance sheet has to absorb the cost of expansion and resource replacement; namely, Arnot mine and Moabsvelden, a brownfields project. Group-wide retrenchments in November demonstrated Wescoal remains stressed. Moabsvelden is not a project Demana can delay. It will supply three million tons of coal annually to Eskom, the government-owned utility on which Wescoal relies for most of its revenue.
The force majeure Eskom declared on contracted coal during the Covid-19 lockdown, amid rising stockpiles, was particularly damaging to Wescoal. Demana thinks national coal burn will improve as the economy recovers at which point he intends to grow the business through acquisitions. That may require a supportive share price in order to finance deals as cash is scarce. At year-end, however, Wescoal shares had fallen back to their lowest level in five years. That tells Demana Wescoal needs operational performance in order to secure its future.
He studied mining engineering at Wits University and holds an M.Sc. (with distinction) from Exeter University in the UK. He began his mining career as a trainee at Anglo American Platinum, then served his time at the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy as a mine health and safety inspector, before turning to the world of corporate finance.
He was an analyst at BJM Securities and a mining advisor at Nedbank, where he spent 14 years specialising in M&A, BEE structuring, capital raising and IPOs.
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