South Africa is looking at buying depressed mining assets as the industry grapples with weak commodity prices, the newly appointed mining minister said on Tuesday.
Pretoria has been seeking greater state involvement in the economically vital sector. In 2011, it launched a company called African Exploration Mining and Finance Corporation (AEMFC), under which all state interest in mining would be consolidated.
“Low commodity prices will be used to identify assets that will enable us to empower the people of South Africa,” said Mosebenzi Zwane, who was appointed in September.
Speaking at Harmony Gold’s Doornkop mine, Zwane, also said some firm are “willing to hand back” their mining rights as faltering metal prices weaken the business case to mine.
Mining companies across the world have been stung by a slump in the price of commodities, which have hit multi-year lows on worries about demand from China – the biggest consumer of industrial metals.
AEMFC’s portfolio includes coal, uranium and limestone. The government has said it wanted the state-owned firm to focus on strategic minerals such as coal and uranium to ensure sufficient supplies to its power plants.