King Croesus would have been jealous of the gargantuan fortunes doled out to a lucky few in the name of mining BEE. These stories are largely absent from mainstream media - perhaps because the plotlines are so outlandish and the numbers unbelievable.
At the recent annual mining lekgotla, Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi asked companies to double their efforts to transform the mining sector. There are at least two characteristics of mining BEE deals that rarely, if ever, make headlines in the mainstream media. First, there are cash payments, sometimes running into hundreds of millions of rand, made up-front. Second, is the presence of a handful of elite individuals, embedded within so-called “broad-based” BEE deals.
To date, perhaps the most infamous example of both has been the 2010 Gold Fields BEE deal for South Deep, a developing mine west of Johannesburg. The cash-and-elites cocktail in the BEE deal did not go unnoticed in the US, where Gold Fields, one of the world’s top five gold producers by output, has a listing on the NYSE.