* Share price falls on news
* Share had been 2nd worst performer in 2011 on Top 40
* Platinum miners struggling with costs (Adds background)
The chief executive of Impala Platinum, the world’s second largest producer of the precious metal, is stepping down against the backdrop of a poorly performing share price and tough talks with Zimbabwe regarding its operations there.
Implats said in a brief statement on Wednesday that David Brown would depart as CEO with effect from June 30 in order to “pursue his own interests”. Its share price extended losses on the day and was 3 percent lower at 1251 GMT.
The company also said the board had identified a successor and was in the process of finalising the appointment.
Implats was the second-worst performing share among South Africa’s benchmark Top 40 index in 2011, shedding 28 percent over the course of the year as the platinum price struggled.
It was a bad year in general for platinum producers. Implats’ bigger rival Anglo American Platinum lost 23 percent in 2011 and Lonmin slid around 40 percent.
All platinum producers in South Africa, where about 80 percent of known global reserves are found, are grappling with rising costs and safety issues.
Brown’s departure also comes at a sensitive time when the company is in talks in Zimbabwe over disputed royalties and a drive by the government there to force foreign miners to surrender majority stakes to local black investors.
Brown had slammed the Zimbabwe moves last August in unusually blunt language, saying: “We believe that 51 percent equity just does not work.”