IF you think it’s tough for South African platinum producers to turn a profit in the current market, spare a thought for Joel Kesler whose additional challenge is dealing with the noise of who or what will be his firm’s next joint venture partner. That’s because 49% shareholder, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) dropped the bombshell in 2014 that it wanted to sell its investment in Atlatsa. Since then, it’s been a case of hurry up and wait for Kesler. Furthermore, Amplats pulled some R422m in financing in July last year which leaves Atlatsa’s balance sheet in limbo. Is it making money; is it broke? We don’t know as Atlatsa can’t file financial numbers while the company’s future is uncertain. Desperate days for the normally transparent Kesler. At least he has the comfort of knowing Amplats has promised to refinance the company before selling its stake - the fourth time the firm has been bailed out. For Kesler, it’s a question of pushing on with what was always required, spending C$100m building Bokoni Mines into a 240,000 ounce a year producer from its new underground mines and phasing out the old. In the meantime, Atlatsa has delisted voluntarily from the Toronto Stock Exchange in an effort to trim costs. Atlatsa’s erstwhile commercial director has been a constant through the firm’s ups and downs. One day, he can look back on this and laugh (or not cry) assuming he survives the restructure.
LIFE OF JOEL
A qualified lawyer, Kesler serves on Atlatsa’s executive committee and oversees the company’s corporate development. He is also the company’s corporate secretary.
- Web Address: www.atlatsaresources.co.za