South Africa’s Thungela Resources, newly spun-off from Anglo American, is valued at roughly 3.4 billion rand ($253 million) after listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on Monday in a test of investor appetite for coal miners.
Thermal coal miners have been struggling to find investor favour amid growing climate concerns and a shift towards sustainable investing, with global mining giants offloading such assets as they transition out of the most polluting fossil fuels.
The 136 million shares opened at 25.00 rand but by 1300 GMT were down about 13% at 21.68.
The company has a secondary listing on the London Stock Exchange.
The demerger gave ownership to existing owners with investors receiving 1 Thungela share for every 10 Anglo American shares they hold.
Before the listing, Liberum analysts estimated the market capitalisation of between $440 million to $950 million.
“Institutional investors have been moving away from coal mining in recent years. Investors now require many funds to avoid polluting assets such as coal miners making it difficult to find large cornerstone investors,” said analyst John Meyer of SP Angel.
“The performance of Thungela shares will give us a clue as to how influential ESG is in terms of stock market investment,” Meyer said.
Short-seller Boatman Capital Research said in a report that Thungela’s environmental liabilities had been “massively under-estimated”. Instead, it values the company at zero.
Boatman said environmental liabilities costs stood around $1.36 billion, surpassing Thungela’s current provisions of 6.45 billion rand ($33.46 million).
Thungela said the report was “flawed”, saying the provision was above the regulatory guidelines and that Boatman’s calculations were made on draft environmental management regulations yet to be finalised in South Africa.
Anglo spun off its South African thermal coal mines joining the world’s largest mining company BHP Group, Australia’s South32 and global miner Rio Tinto in taking steps to go thermal coal free.
Liberum said the valuation would likely fall further as passive investors sell out of the stock.
“People who own Anglo American itself and were given these shares probably don’t want them. I think over the next few weeks there will be more selling pressure on the stock,” said Greg Davies, a trader at Cratos Capital.
Despite calls to exit thermal coal, countries such as China and South Africa, which derive a majority of their power from coal, have plans for more coal-fired power stations.
“Our conviction is that thermal coal remains part of the energy mix for decades to come,” Thungela CEO July Ndlovu said.
($1 = 13.4490 rand)
(By Tanisha Heiberg and Clara Denina; Editing by Jason Neely)