By Fanuel Kangondo
INVESTMENT analysts have warned Zimbabwe against briefcase investors using false claims
on the country’s mining resources to raise funds on stock exchange platforms abroad.
As the country is in a recovery mode, it has become an attractive destination for most foreign investors keen to exploit its mineral resources.
But it has emerged that some of them are bogus briefcase businessmen keen to capitalise on the situation.
DEAT Capital managing director Mr Nicky Moyo said there was need to conduct with thorough diligence the checking of the track record of some of the investors.
“As you are aware, as Zimbabwe’s economy continues to recover and in the face of the perceived high risk associated with the country, some investors think they can achieve easy pickings. They think they can get assets at a huge discount, particularly mining.
“There is need for clarity on issues such as mining rights to avoid any ambiguities that may result.”
Bulawayo-based economic commentator Mr Eric Bloch observed that there were very few genuine foreign investors taking advantage of the country’s tremendous potential.
“The Zimbabwe Investment Authority should step in to make sure that such speculative tendencies are discouraged,” he said. “They should verify the credentials of all investors and verify their credibility and authenticity.”
For instance, Kameni, a South African platinum developer led by Mr Lucas Pouroulis, is under investigation by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and the South African police.
The company is facing allegations of raising millions of rands of seed capital from investors by falsely claiming ownership of part of the Bokai platinum reserves on the Great Dyke in Shurugwi and Tamboti in South Africa.
Records at the Ministry of Mines show that the 42 claims forming the Bokai platinum reserves are registered under an August 2010 Special Mining Lease awarded to Todal Mining – a joint venture company between the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and London Stock Exchange-listed ENRC.
ZMDC acquired the Bokai mining rights from Anglo Platinum in 2008 and entered into a joint venture with ENRC to form Todal Mining for the development of the claims.
The Bokai mine is located in the second largest platinum chamber on the Great Dyke. The special mining lease awarded to Todal covers 4 800 hectares and geological exploration works completed by the joint venture company reflect mineral reserves of close to 11 million ounces of platinum metals.
Other cases of briefcase businessmen that come to mind include that of the Minister of State in Vice President Joice Mujuru’s Office, Sylvester Nguni who was duped in a fuel scam.
Another Government Minister Elton Mangoma has a case in the courts where he awarded a US$5 million fuel tender to an obscure South African company, NOOA Petroleum.
Without any legal document to back up its claim on Bokai, Kameni has falsely claimed rights over the Shurugwi platinum belt. Kameni claimed that it was the holder of the mining claim in December 2008, and revealed plans to raise R6,5 billion on the Johannesburg Stock exchange for the development of platinum and chrome mines in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
In March 5 2009, Kameni announced that “it had raised R300 million – its minimum capital raising requirement – in seed capital to fund its exploration programme in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Kameni advised further that its two major assets – the near-surface Kalkfontein (Tamboti) PGM project in South Africa and the surface PGM and chrome Bokai Project in Zimbabwe – lend themselves to rapid exploration, development and cash-generating mining.
Despite their claim on the JSE, Kameni has not set foot on Bokai in Shurugwi. Some attempts at geological exploration work by Kameni’s Zimbabwean subsidiary, Mid-Ma, failed when within weeks of its raising millions of rands from investors, Mid-Ma geologists were arrested on Todal claims in Shurugwi, and their diamond drill rigs were impounded.
The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development wrote to the police in Shurugwi, instructing them to remove anyone besides Todal Mining who were working on their legally registered claims. The ministry also wrote to Mid-Ma advising them to remove their machinery outside Todal’s claims.
In September 2009, Kameni was chastised by Impala Platinum, the world’s second largest name in Platimun Group Minerals, over a December 2008 Kameni presentation, where Kalkfontein (Tamboti) appeared, along with Bougai.
Impala chief executive Mr David Brown said Kameni had been too “liberal” in its references to Impala.
Mr Brown stated that he was “however not privy to how the presentation was given or if in fact it was ever used for fundraising purposes”. Where Kameni claimed that Impala was contributing prospecting rights over portions of Kalkfontein and Buffelshoek, in return for a 20 percent interest in the project, in fact, Impala’s 20 percent “flip up” is only potential, being highly conditional on Kameni completing a number of strenuous milestones.
Kameni was instructed to first complete a bankable feasibility study (BFS) on Tamboti and this would cost hundreds of millions of rands. They were also told to secure full funding for the potential build of a mine. Only then would Impala transfer its relevant rights in the project, in return for a 20 percent stake.
Based on current industry standards, a PGM mine at Tamboti could cost R10 billion.
Unperturbed by Kameni’s false claims, since the institution of the joint venture, Todal has injected millions of dollars into site exploration works. Work is in progress in the first stage of the mining venture, which involves bulk sampling, infrastructure development and preparation for construction and mine.
When production commences within two and a half years, Todal is projecting an output of 300 000 ounces per annum from Bokai over a capital injection of US$634 million with 1 600 workers.