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UPDATED: April 23, 2007 NO.17 APR.26, 2007
Getting Down to Business
South African companies tilt the bilateral business scales with China
By Michael Jones


Anglo American plc

The first business contacts between Anglo American and China occurred in the 1950's when the De Beers company in Hong Kong and the UK supplied industrial diamonds to Chinese customers. Anglo American plc opened a representative office in Beijing in 2002, and had overseen the tremendous growth in sales to China that exceeded $2 billion in 2005. The company has also created a favorable environment in which its numerous business divisions could smoothly enter the Chinese market. These entries have led to joint venture exploration activities with Chinese partners and the transfer of leading mining knowledge into the reforming industry.

Anglo Diamond: De Beers

Partially owned by Anglo American, De Beers Group was one of the earliest movers into China and has had a presence since the 1980's. Incidentally, it is due to De Beers' excellent marketing efforts that the words "Diamond" and "South Africa" are synonymous with each other amongst the Chinese population, since it launched trial advertising in 1987 in China to promote diamond jewelry. In addition to its sales of diamonds into China through Beijing and Shanghai, De Beers also carried out prospecting in China from 1986-1992 in the provinces of Liaoning and Shandong under cooperation agreements with the Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources. De Beers established a representative office in Beijing in 1997.

AngloGold Ashanti

AngloGold Ashanti has been involved in China since the launching of a joint initiative with the World Gold Council to boost China's gold market in 1999. AngloGold established a representative office in Beijing in 2004 and in February 2006, signed an agreement to acquire an 8.7 percent stake in Dynasty Gold Corporation, an exploration company with projects in China.

Anglo Platinum

In 2004 Anglo Platinum signed a joint venture exploration agreement for the Danba project in Sichuan Province. In 2005 Anglo Platinum established a representative office in Beijing, while in the same year it received MOFCOM's approval for the Danba platinum project in Sichuan.

Anglo Coal

In 2003 Anglo Coal established a representative office in Beijing and two years later signed the Xiwan joint venture contract with Shaanxi Coal Geological Bureau.

Bateman Engineered Technologies

Bateman Engineered Technologies serves the minerals, cement, coal, iron and steel, power generation and industrial markets through its business lines specialized equipment. It established a representative office in Beijing in 2006. The London-listed company signed a strategic sales agreement with CITIC Heavy Machinery in 2006 under which Bateman obtained an exclusive licence to market CITIC's leading range of mills and tube mills in southern Africa.


Exxaro (previously Kumba Resources) was one of the first South African companies to operate in China. In 1989 the first shipment of iron ore was sent to China while in 1993 Kumba established a representative office in Beijing. In 1994 the company invested $10 million in the Qingdao Port. In 2000 the Kumba Base Metals division entered business in China and in 2003 the Kumba Hongye Joint Venture zinc smelter was formed at Chifeng (located in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region,). Exxaro is a major iron ore supplier to Chinese steel companies, supplying an estimated 4 percent of China's total iron ore imports.

The above represent South Africa's largest or most notable companies with a permanent presence in China, but it does not include any of the medium to large manufacturing or retail companies that source millions of dollars of products from China on a daily basis. But China and South Africa's cooperation potential remains underutilized. China can expect to see continued expansion in its domestic market from the above-mentioned companies but can also expect to see a new wave of investments coming from South Africa, including manufacturing and service-oriented companies.

It will bode well for Chinese companies to not only take advantage of South African companies expanding in their home market through cooperation agreements or partnerships, but to also engage South African companies to enter the South African market or cooperate on lucrative third markets such as those available in Africa. South Africa and China's economies are very complimentary and the time could not be better to reap the benefits of the present situation.

Michael Jones is a Senior Consultant with THE BEIJING AXIS, a company that serves as a business bridge between Africa and China. He can be contacted at: michael@thebeijingaxis.com

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