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Implats hires veteran as new saviour – IOL

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Johannesburg - Mining veteran Nico Muller has been appointed as the new chief executive at Impala Platinum (Implats). The company said on Wednesday that Muller, 49, would have the tough task of juggling high input costs, operational problems and fatal accidents, including an underground fire, which claimed four employees in January.

Implats’ shares, the world’s second largest platinum producer, were up 1.79 percent to R42.75 at the close of the JSE yesterday after the news of Muller’s appointment.

Muller, the current executive vice president for Gold Fields’ South African operations, will replace Terence Goodlace, 57, who stepped down last month after a four-year stint with the platinum producer.

Muller will step in as the company’s chief executive and executive director next April, Implats said. He is a mining engineer with a 27-year career that has seen him work in multiple commodities companies, including platinum.

“He has a proven track record as a successful operator, a highly rated leader and a strategic thinker. This mix of technical know-how and a strategic approach will serve Implats and all its stakeholders very well,” Implats said.

Muller is no stranger to the platinum industry. Before joining Gold Fields, he was the chief operations officer at Royal Bafokeng Platinum.

He is also credited for building African Rainbow Minerals’ Two Rivers platinum mine, where he was a business leader.

Sibonginkosi Nyanga, an analyst at Momentum SP Reid Securities said Muller’s appointment was spot on and came as no surprise.

“Implats needs a mining specialist and someone who is hands on. Muller has proven to be one of those guys who are capable of turning around a ship, especially if you look at what he has done at South Deep,” said Nyanga.

He said Muller’s top priority would be to address Implats’ operational challenges.

“Implats’ new generation shafts have made no progress. As a mining guy Muller is in a position to solve operational problems,” he said.

The company has also grappled with high input costs, including energy and wages, in tandem with the rest of the industry.

It was previously speculated that Jean Nel, former head of platinum at Sibanye Gold would replace Goodlace, but Nyanga said that Implats required an engineer to focus on operational challenges.

Muller’s two year tenure at Gold Fields saw him focus on ensuring the troubled South Deep Mine in Westonaria delivers on its production promises.

Gold Fields said the search for Muller’s replacement had begun.

The company said that since October 2014, Muller had played an important role in fixing the base at South Deep and repositioning the mine for a sustainable future and recruited a strong leadership team which would be able take South Deep forward.

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