New leadership in SA will not change South32’s plans to exit its domestic thermal-coal business because its decision was based on the investment community’s increasing aversion to the commodity rather than the operating environment in SA, says CEO Graham Kerr. South32’s decision, announced in November, to run its SA energy coal as a separate business ahead of selling it, followed on the heels of Anglo American’s moves to exit its coal mines supplying Eskom. Eskom requires its suppliers to be at least 51% black-owned. Kerr said the first step would be to make the coal business safe and sustainable and then to devise the best ownership structure for it. This would probably include a strategic black empowerment partner, employees and management and a listing on the JSE. The group, which was spun out of BHP Billiton three years ago, has thermal coal, manganese and aluminium operations in Southern Africa, as well as mines in Australia, Colombia and Brazil. Kerr said South32 still liked m...

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