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Contrast, if you will, how the private sector digs itself out of a hole, compared with its vastly inefficient peers in the public sector. Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) and Kumba Iron Ore, both companies in the Anglo American family, have this week given a master class in how to deal with underperforming assets, high debt and relentless operational conditions and still come out on the other side.In the case of Amplats, which is hostage to the same weak metals price affecting everyone, the platinum miner has moved to a net positive cash balance of almost R500m as of its half-year results. That’s no mean feat considering that in 2017 it had net debt of R5.9bn and almost R15bn in 2014. How did it get there? Notwithstanding the fortune of having one of the lowest-cost new mines in the platinum world, Mogalakwena, Amplats still had to make tough calls. It sold mines that it could not defend keeping. It shut shafts that were losing money. It slashed its staff bill by 60%, mainly throug...

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