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Johannesburg - Masimong Minerals has emerged as the favourite to win an auction for some of Anglo American’s South African coal mines, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Led by South African Chamber of Mines president Mike Teke, Masimong has edged ahead of Phembani Group, the other shortlisted bidder, in the process to buy the mines that mainly supply coal to state-owned power utility Eskom Holdings, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information has not been made public.

Their offers ranged from R2 billion to R3 billion, two other people with knowledge of the matter said earlier this month.

“Anglo American is in discussions with a number of shortlisted bidders and continues to engage key stakeholders in relation to the Eskom-tied domestic thermal coal operations,” spokesman Pranill Ramchander said.

“We will make further announcements as appropriate.”

Teke declined to comment.

Read also: Anglo shortlists coal bidders

The Chamber of Mines represents mining companies operating in South Africa including Anglo and Glencore.

Anglo opted to sell the New Vaal, Kriel and New Denmark mines following a decision just over a year ago to dispose of assets in response to plunging commodity prices and a desire to pay off debt.

It has since scaled back those plans as prices rebounded. The mines together account for about half Anglo’s South African coal production.

Both Masimong and Phembani, founded by MTN Group chairman Phuthuma Nhleko, plan to list their companies if they succeed in buying the mines, three people familiar with the matter said earlier this month.

The two companies are black owned, and Eskom, the country’s largest buyer of coal, said it wants suppliers to be black-controlled. South Africa is pushing companies to boost black involvement in the economy.