William Coetzer 1973


William Bedford Coetzer was born in Rouxville, 0.F.S., in 1909. He was educated at the Zastron High School. In 1933 he obtained the B.Com. degree at the Grey University College in Bloemfontein, where he also completed the C.I.S. course.

He entered the service of the Cape Provincial Administration in 1934.

He was appointed Secretary/Manager of the Western Wheat­growers Co-operative in Malmesbury in 1935.

Mr Coetzer was one of the first officials appointed by Federale Volksbeleggings Beperk in its foundation year, 1941, and through this company came into contact with the mining industry.

Federale Volksbeleggings originally invested in coalmining on a small scale. In due course its coalmining interests expanded under the guidance of Mr Coetzer until in 1953 Federale Volksbeleggings and Bonuskor merged to found Federal Mining. Mr Coetzer has been Chairman of the Board of Directors of Federal Mining since its establishment.

The dynamic new company took the lead in the mechanisation of the coalmining industry. This gained important contracts for the supply of coal to power stations which in turn led to the development of Blinkpan in 1961 and Usutu in 1964. In 1963 Mr Coetzer negotiated the incorporation of the interests of the Drayton group in Federal Mining in the Trans-Natal Coal Corporation. This, the second largest coalmining group in the country, holds a 25% interest in the Republic's total coal production.

As a result of this action and the Company's vested interests in coal production, Federal Mining gained a 50% controlling interest in Main Street Investments, with the prospect of a controlling interest in General Mining. In 1963 Anglo American transferred its control of General Mining to Federal Mining.

It can quite rightly be claimed that Mr Coetzer was largely responsible for the establishment and the development of Federal Mining until its takeover of General Mining. Through his vision and force, Federal Mining was expanded from a small mining company to a vast independent company which plays a leading role in the mining industry.

Mr Coetzer has made significant contributions in other fields as well. He is currently a director of more than forty companies, among others Federale Volksbeleggings Beperk. Sanlam Insurance Company, Trust Bank of Africa Limited, and Swiss-South African Reinsurance Co. Ltd. Furthermore he is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of many companies, inter alia Siemens (Pty) Ltd and Acrow Engineering (Pty) Ltd.

He has served on various Government Commissions and was a member of the South African Trade Mission which investigated possible South African export markets in Europe in I 961.

The Council and the Senate of the University of Port Elizabeth consider it a privilege to honour Mr Coetzer in this way, in recognition of his contribution to the development of the mining industry in the Republic of South Africa.