SA platinum junior pleads for state intervention
A platinum Mandela Rand and Reserve Bank holding some of the recommendations in an open letter to the South African government written by Platfields CEO, Bongani Mbindwane.
Posted: Monday , 30 Jul 2012
JOHANNESBURG (Mineweb) -
In an open letter addressed to the country's minister of mineral resources, junior explorer, Platfields, has pleaded for government intervention to assist an ailing sector.
The CEO, Bongani Mbindwane, said in the letter [copy to be found here] that the government would need to lead the way in introducing beneficial legislative frameworks to protect investor value.
Interventions recommended by Mbindwane are the following:
- In order to improve security of tenure an extension of mining and prospecting rights across the board for companies in the platinum sector, particularly those due for renewal within 24 months;
- Increase the marketability of platinum by replicating the gold Kruger Rand initiative with a platinum Mandela Rand for wealth storage;
- The South African Reserve Bank to consider holding platinum in addition to gold and foreign exchange reserves with potential to export the idea to other BRICS countries;
- Consider an OPEC-like organisation for platinum and PGM producing countries to ensure effective protection, production planning and research;
- Establishment of a platinum marketing council to promote long term business fundamentals and scientific research;
- Empower the Minister with funding of junior explorers who will not have access to funding under current market conditions. "The Minister of Finance should make significant appropriation of funding to shore up the Junior Explorers with great urgency";
- A platinum exchange platform to be established in South Africa and all PGM trading be moved back to South Africa to bolster foreign exchange and better management of the metal market closer to source.
The CEO also took a swipe at the ANC's State Intervention in the Minerals Sector (SIMS) report saying that the already fragile sector could be further damaged should proposals contained in the report take effect.
Specifically mentioned were the references to increased taxation on the sector as well as export tariffs.
Ironically, some of the other suggestions in the SIMS report align with Mbindwane's suggested interventions.
The SIMS report said that consideration should be given to creation of a joint PGM linkages strategy with Zimbabwe. This ties up with the OPEC-like recommendation above.
The report also recommended that platinum be treated like gold in our Exchange Control Regulations.
"The Minister of Finance should be tasked to amend the Exchange Control Regulations to prohibit the sale of "Precious Metals" without Treasury exemption (currently this clause only applies to gold sales), which will also give the state the right to market platinum, in addition to gold" says the report.
But the end goal of the SIMS report is different to what Mbindwane may want to achieve. The leverage of producer power is what the SIMS report had in mind in order for the country to benefit more and not the platinum producers themselves.
Platfields is in the midst of trying to raise funding to carry on with its exploration activities which have largely been on care and maintenance.
In the last financial report for the year ending 29 February 2012 the company had R7m in cash on the balance sheet and reported an outflow of R10.5 million from operating activities. Half a million rand was spent on exploration with R9m going towards general and administration expenses.
"The directors draw your attention to the fact that the Company`s future prospects and stability relies on its ability to raise capital for the ensuing financial year" says the financial report.
The explorer's share price is currently at 4 cents per share, a far cry from its high of 65 cents per share on listing in December 2010.
"As an explorer our woes are even greater than those of the producers as we had no ability to bank any rainy day income to shore up this devastating time" said Mbindwane in his letter.
iPad Version: Picture published courtesy of Platfields