South32 sets goal on starting independent SA coal business

Mike Fraser, COO South32

SOUTH32 would begin the divestment from its South African Energy Coal (SAEC) business in six months, said Mike Fraser, chief operating officer for the group’s thermal coal, alumina and aluminium assets.

Speaking to Reuters, Fraser said: “We recognise that this business is much better placed if it is majority black-owned. There is no doubt about it. Not just because it meets Eskom’s requirements, but also because it’s the right thing to do”.

The group had received a number of offers for the assets which it up for sale in November last year as part of a shift away from coal, he said. “After we made the announcement there was significant interest already from both listed and unlisted entities,” Fraser told Reuters on Tuesday at the Indaba Mining conference in Cape Town.

Fraser declined to name the bidders for South 32’s coal assets, but South African power utility, the main customer for the coal, requires any new contracts to be signed with suppliers that have more than a 50% black shareholding, said Reuters.