Workers exiting the Union platinum mine in South Africa. Anglo American Platinum is selling its stake in the mine to Siyanda Resources but said that all 5,100 employees of the mine will keep their jobs. (Photo courtesy of Anglo American)
London--Anglo American plc, which is the world’s leading producer of platinum group metals and majority owner of De Beers, announced Wednesday that it is selling one of its platinum mines.

Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) is selling its 85 percent stake in the Union Mine in Rustenburg, South Africa, along with its 50.1 percent interest in MASA Chrome Company to a subsidiary of Siyanda Resources for R400 million (about $30 million) in cash, as well as share of future earnings for a period of 10 years.

Amplats is retaining its Mortimer smelter operation.

Under the agreement, Siyada will sell ore concentrate from Union to Amplats on pre-agreed commercial terms for a period of seven years after the transaction closes. After that, Amplats said it will toll treat concentrate for the remaining life of the mine.

British daily newspaper The Times reported that Amplats, which was hit hard by labor strikes in South Africa in 2014 and 2015, is selling Union in order to focus on more modern, automated platinum mining operations.

Johann Wiebe, an analyst with Thomson Reuters based in London, added that mining companies like Amplats are operating on thin, or in some cases nonexistent, margins due to the drop in the price of platinum and cost inflation, and are looking to sell off non-core assets to become more financially sound.

Amplats will use the money from the Union Mine sale to pay down debt, he said.

An Anglo American spokesperson said that the mine employs 5,100 people and that, under South Africa’s Labour Relations Act, they all will retain their jobs and become employees of Siyanda.

Union is one of 15 platinum group metal mines that Amplats has a stake in or owns. Other include the Dishaba, Mogalakwena and Tumela mines in South Africa as well as the Unki Concentrator Plant in Zimbabwe.

Union accounted for about 7 percent of Amplats’ total production in 2016.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval in South Africa and is expected to close this year.

 20170216 John ParkerAnglo American Chairman John ParkerNews that Anglo American plc will be divesting one of its platinum group assets came just one day after Chairman John Parker announced he would be stepping down at some point this year.

The 74-year-old Parker has served as Anglo American plc’s chairman for eight years. In a company news release, he said that he believes that “the time is now right for the board to seek my successor.”

He will stay on as chairman until the company finds a replacement. Sir Philip Hamilton, Anglo’s senior independent director, is leading the search to replace Parker.

Anglo American plc is scheduled to release its preliminary full-year financials, which will include results for De Beers, on Feb. 21.

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