Few people outside Kuruman have ever heard of Diro Iron Ore, a mine owned by former Northern Cape premier Mannie Manne Dipico. When it went into business rescue in June 2016, owing R483m to various creditors including Investec, 250 employees experienced huge financial hardship — as did local business people who had been supplying the mine. It’s the same story, on a smaller scale, as well-publicised disasters like Pamodzi Gold, Blyvooruitzicht and Mintails. But this story has a better ending. Building materials supplier Afrimat, looking for diversification from its existing businesses, paid R1 (yes, one rand) in June to acquire 60% of Diro Iron Ore and Diro Manganese. Another R276m was spent on, among other things, settling arrear salaries, paying retrenchment packages and investing capital in fixing the mine infrastructure and equipment so it could resume operations. It has since spent another R40m on buying the outstanding 40% of the shares. Afrimat is 33% black-owned so this opera...

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