Bloomberg News

Total in Talks on Coal Joint Venture With S. Africa's Radebe

August 20, 2003

Total SA (FP), the biggest French investor in South Africa, is in talks to form a coal joint venture with a black-owned company controlled by the wife of a South African cabinet minister, the black-owned company said.

Total's South African coal unit is in talks with Mmakau Mining, led by Bridgette Radebe, the wife of Public Enterprises Minister Jeff Radebe, Mmakau said in a statement read to Bloomberg. Mmakau has been awarded the right to export some coal through Richard's Bay Coal Terminal, the world's biggest coal terminal, Business Day newspaper reported earlier today.

Companies operating in South Africa are being compelled by the government to sell stakes in their businesses to black investors to make up for discrimination during apartheid. In May, Total and its local partners sold 25 percent of their South African oil business to black South Africans.

Mmakau ``has been in talks with Total over a (black) empowerment joint venture,'' Mmakau said in the statement. ``An announcement will be made shortly.''

Total's coal business in South Africa declined to comment. Its main coal assets in the country were bought from Anglovaal Mining Ltd. in 1999.

At that time Total paid $40 million to buy the 50 percent of the Forzando coal mine that it didn't already own, the Dorsfontein coal project and a 30 percent stake in the Eloff coal reserve. Forzando produces about two million metric tons of coal a year.

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