Platinum Man: Steve Kearney and his contribution to South African mining

Platinum Man

By Ciaran Ryan
Published on behalf of Amelia Soares
First published in 2008
184 pages plus covers
ISBN 978-0-620-37160-5
R185 plus VAT


STEVE KEARNEY is one of the most fascinating figures in recent South African mining history. An exceptionally gifted leader, he was the youngest ever general manager of a Gencor gold mine, and became chief executive of Impala Platinum before he turned 40. In three short years he turned Impala from a struggling producer into a glittering success, registering massive gains for shareholders in the process. Then, seemingly at the pinnacle of his career, Kearney fell victim to personal weaknesses, and died a few years later.

This gripping account traces Kearney’s life from his early childhood in Canada’s eerie Uranium City; through his days as a high school football star in Denver, Colorado; to his harsh apprenticeship at West Rand Consolidated; his meteoric career at Gencor; his fall from grace; his partial redemption; and his untimely death at age 45.

Ultimately, it celebrates Kearney’s enduring contribution to the South African mining industry, as well as the Royal Bafokeng Nation of North West province.


‘I worked with Steve Kearney for the best part of 10 years and knew him as a generous spirit, a great motivational leader, and someone who recognised the power of the team.

‘His achievements are beyond dispute: one need only look at his record at Impala after he took over as managing director in 1996 and then CEO in 1998. The turnaround in the group’s financial performance and the resolution of the long-running dispute with the Royal Bafokeng Nation over mining royalties were probably his most enduring legacies.

‘It was hard not to like Steve. He died tragically at the age of 45, having left a formidable footprint at Impala, and dare I say across the broader South African mining sector. I welcome this portrait of a remarkable man who has left an indelible mark on South African mining.’

— John Smithies, former chief executive officer, Impala Platinum

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