Amplats says to sell strike-hit South Africa mines

JOHANNESBURG Mon Jul 21, 2014 4:04am EDT

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - World no. 1 platinum producer Anglo American Platinum said on Monday it planned to sell its Union mine, Rustenburg operations and a joint venture in South Africa, a widely expected move after it was hit by a five-month strike.

Unveiling its interim results, Amplats said it had lost over 420,000 ounces in production to the wage strike by the hard-line AMCU union. Its headline earnings per share dropped to 60 cents, a fall of almost 90 percent.

"In our capital-constrained environment, we have decided that we will exit from the Union and Rustenburg mines, and our Pandora JV operation," Amplats said.

"There are a number of potential investors seeking access to the platinum industry and these are good long-life assets with potential that will provide them with that access."

Amplats parent Anglo American had already signaled its intention to reduce its troubled platinum portfolio.

A disposal is probably more palatable to the government and workforce than job cuts, which would have almost certainly been met by fierce political and union resistance.

The front runner to buy Amplats' mines is Sibanye Gold, whose chief executive Neal Froneman told Reuters this month that he wanted a platinum deal before the end of the year and could easily raise $1 billion.

But Froneman said he did not think any of the platinum mines Sibanye was looking at were "anywhere near" that price.

Analysts have said Amplats' five Rustenburg mines plus its Union mine could be worth between $1 billion and $2 billion.

(Reporting by Ed Stoddard; Editing by Ed Cropley)

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