UK and South African companies battle for platinum

platinum_oreGWERU An international incident is quietly simmering over Bokai, one of the worlds choicest platinum properties, in an increasingly fiendish battle between London-listed Camec, and Kameni, a shadowy, unlisted South Africa-based organisation. (Pictured: Platinum ore)

Camec, Central African Mining and Exploration Company plc, announced on April 11 last year that it had acquired 60 per cent of Todal, which owns the Bougai and Kironde concessions near Gweru. For its 60 per cent in Todal, Camec paid US$5m in cash, and issued 215 million of its shares, worth about 100m at the time. Camec also loaned US$100m to Todals parent company to help build a mine at the concessions. For these efforts, Camec learned later in 2008 that ownership of the Bougai concession was being hawked around by Kameni, in an effort, apparently successful, to raise hundreds of millions of rands (among other currencies) from investors. As 2008 wore on, Kameni started to widely advertise that it controlled Bokai. In marketing materials, Kameni claimed that its subsidiary Mid-Ma Platinum (74.9 per cent held by Pomachan, a 100 per cent subsidiary of Kameni) held Bougai. In December, with the global platinum sector in absolute crisis, Kameni announced plans to raise R6.5bn (about US$630m) on the Johannesburg bourse, by mid-2010, the funds being intended to build platinum and chrome mines in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

On March 5 this year, Kameni further announced that it had raised R300m its minimum capital-raising requirement tofund its exploration programme in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Kameni advised further that its two major assets the near-surface PGM (platinum group metal) Kalkfontein Project in South Africa and the surface PGM and chrome Bougai Project in Zimbabwe lend themselves to rapid exploration, development and cash-generating mining. For days, weeks and months, Kamenis executives and directors persistently declined requests for any interview to explain Kamenis claims to Bokai, but instead supplied limited and incomplete answers via strategic communication entity Russell and Associates in Johannesburg. On July 16, James Duncan of Russell and Associates stated: At the time the seed capital-raising took place, there was no dispute regarding rights to the Bougai claims.

But it was on February 19, while the seed raisings were taking place, that Walter Shamu, managing director of Todal, wrote to Stephen Gorven, CEO of Kameni. Shamu pointed out in no uncertain terms that Kamenis marketing materials referring to Kamenis Bokai project apparently pointed to an overlap with existing Todal claims. Shamu urgently requested a meeting to resolve the issues. With a full-blown dispute in the background, Kamenis seed raising continued. More than two months previously, Shamu had written to the mining commissioner, Gweru, expressing alarm that Kamenis Mid-Ma was apparently claiming rights over mining claims already granted to Todal. Duncan states that Kameni had and still has documentary proof of its rights to the claims from the appropriate authority including original certificates of registration and letters of confirmation of their validity from the Zimbabwean Mines Department, but has not supplied copies of such materials, or anything else.

With Duncan clearly suggesting that Bokai had been sold twice, he also stated that: as we have said to you at least twice now, the matter has been referred back to the appropriate authority, the Zimbabwean Ministry of Mines, for clarification and Kameni is confident of an outcome in its favour. Again, Kameni has not supplied proof of such a process. Nothing that Duncan states checks out. Information available indicates that Kamenis claims in Zimbabwe Bokai is not the only one have been annulled and repudiated by the relevant authorities.

Dominique Mabayiwa, CEO of the Zimbabwe Minerals Development Corporation (ZMDC), which owns the balance of 40 per cent in Todal, mentions the word ‘motive when asked about Kamenis conduct. He also speaks for the Zimbabwe government, given the ZMDCs status as a parastatal.

Duncan states that from the outset, Kameni has and continues to act in terms of the best legal advice in both South Africa and Zimbabwe, but, again, provides no details, evidence or anything else that would throw light onto Kamenis bizarre and twisted trail. For now, investors who ploughed hundreds of millions of rands into Kameni will simply have to sit on the edge of their seats.

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