AGRICULTURE: Trans Hex: From Carats to Carrots
Recent Western Cape Business News
PAROW-based diamond mining group Trans Hex is going farming. CBN gleaned this from a company announcement last month that detailed a rather curious executive shuffle.
Mervyn Carstens, the executive director for Trans Hex’s SA Land Operations, has been seconded “on a full time basis” as MD of Trans Hex’s new joint venture agricultural company.
More details on the new agricultural venture will only be released in Trans Hex’s annual report (due around June). What CBN does know is that the venture is based on Lower Orange River flood plains, an area that Trans Hex has mined for decades.
Trans Hex will hold a majority stake in the agricultural company, which is being established as a “key component of its Social and Labour Plan commitments in terms of the Mining Charter.”
According to a brief announcement by Trans Hex, the venture is aimed at creating a sustainable post-mining farming business.
Cynical responses may well be that farming could well become more profitable for Trans Hex around the Orange River than its traditional (and fast depleting) alluvial diamond mining efforts. Certainly Trans Hex’s old lime operations (sold in the late nineties) are by now probably making more money that the diamond mining business.
But perhaps we are being too hard on Trans Hex. The group’s March 2011 tender sales of SA production were quite promising, yielding R94.5 million.
This comprised the sale of 7 585 carats at a record average price of US$1 782 per carat.
Five single stones were sold for an average price in excess of $10 000 per carat, including two stones from Baken Mine which sold for over $40 000 per carat.
While the farming venture is a noble effort by Trans Hex, CBN doubts bunches of carrots (and other crops) will ever yield quite as attractively as carats.
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