Last week’s capitulation by Standard Bank CEO Sim Shabalala to investor pressure and the tides of history, with the bank committing to publish a Paris-aligned fossil fuel strategy for the 2021 period, could not come at a more interesting time. Left and right, investors are rushing for the door with their coal assets, resulting in the proliferation of ever-more-marginal mining companies.

From some pretty broad-ranging conversations over the past few weeks a consistent picture has emerged of a not-so-sleight-of-hand that sees big-ticket companies such as Anglo and BHP demerging to create ever-smaller local empowerment companies upon which they then dump their rapidly devaluing mining assets...

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