Sasol boost for women in mining

12 October 2007

South African petrochemicals giant Sasol announced this week that it has sold a 20% stake in its mining subsidiary, valued at almost R1.9-billion, to a newly established company owned and run by two local women empowerment groups.

The transaction will see Ixia Coal, a joint venture by Women Investment Portfolio Holdings (Wiphold) and Mining Women Investments, acquire 20% of Sasol Mining through the issue of new shares.

Sasol said in a statement that the current transaction was the second phase of Sasol Mining’s broad-based black economic empowerment (BEE) strategy, which will result in 26% of Sasol Mining (calculated on attributable units of production) being owned by previously disadvantaged groups.

According to the company, this enables Sasol Mining to achieve compliance with the Mining Charter’s ownership requirements well ahead of the 2014 deadline.

Sasol executive director Benny Mokaba said the transaction not only achieves compliance with the Mining Charter, but also promotes the role of women in the mining industry.

“We want to create lasting empowerment by providing opportunities for our country’s women to enter and benefit from the traditionally male-dominated mining industry,” Mokaba said. “Our focus will be on developing relevant skills and building capacity among historically disadvantaged women.

“Our intention is to create a lasting legacy through skills development and capacity building in support of government’s socio-economic objectives.”

While initially being only an investor, Ixia Coal will eventually, with technical assistance and skills transfers from Sasol Mining, develop operational capacity enabling the company to operate its own coal mines.

“With sound business acumen and a strong empowerment track record, Wiphold will help us build Ixia Coal into a new, sustainable women’s empowerment company that over time will become involved in operating coal mines,” Sasol Mining managing director Hermann Wenhold said.

Wiphold, founded in 1994, is an investment and operating company owned and managed by black women, with interests in a range of industries. It is represented countrywide and has 1 200 direct women beneficiaries and, through non-governmental organisation shareholders, an estimated 200 000 women as indirect shareholders.

Mining Women Investments, the new entrant, comprises thousands of rural black women who have not previously been beneficiaries of empowerment programmes. The group was created by Wiphold following a series of workshops held with women in the Free State, Mumalanga and Limpopo provinces, where Sasol Mining has operations and coal reserves.

Sasol Mining can further benefit if shareholders approve the 10% BEE transaction proposed by its parent, Sasol Limited. Upon approval, that transaction will be implemented in 2008 and will take Sasol Mining beyond compliance with the Mining Charter’s ownership requirements.

“The transaction has been concluded at fair value,” Sasol chief financial officer Christine Ramon said. “The facilitation cost to Sasol is anticipated to be commensurate with other BEE deals in the mining sector in South Africa and will only be finalised once third party funding arrangements are in place.”

SAinfo reporter

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