ZIMBABWE Stock Exchange listed conglomerate Meikles Limited has said its new foreign-based mining partner, Centar Mining, is ready to invest up to $500 million as the group spreads its tentacles into mining.
Report by Victoria Mtomba
Addressing shareholders at the company’s 76th annual general meeting, one of the company’s directors, Mark Wood, said Meikles will have 51% shareholding in the new company while Centar mining will hold 49%.
Shareholders approved the joint venture and establishment of Meikles Centar Mining Limited.
“Before the elections they (Centar) sent us a partner with $500 million capital.
“The partner came, but we didn’t finalise anything as all things went into elections mode.
“Now, we want to see who will be the next (mines) minister who we will have to talk to,” Wood said.
The partnership, according to Meikles, has already been approved by the Indigenisation ministry and the investment authority while it was yet to be approved by the Competition and Tariff Commission.
“We took our potential investors to the Indigenisation ministry and they were happy with what we are trying to do,” he said.
The deal would see the company mining close to seven minerals in the country, including gold, tantalite and iron ore.
Wood said the country has a lot of distressed gold mines, some of them under care and maintenance.
According to the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe, the country’s mining sector, now the mainstay of the economy, needs $5 billion to recapitalise.
“We are looking at three or four gold mining companies with a view of getting into partnership with or taking over their assets,” Wood said.
He added that the company wanted to venture into diamond mining through the acquisition of Rio Tinto (UK)’s 78% stake in Murowa Diamonds, but that has been reversed after Rio Tinto (UK) decided to stop the deal.
He said the company was advised by the Indigenisation ministry to venture into mining and they sourced a technical partner, Centar.
Centar is a mining company founded by Ian Hannam and Jan Kulczyk and supported by a number of prominent and highly experienced investors from Thailand, Indonesia, Poland, Kazakhstan and others.
Meanwhile, Meikles’ chairman John Moxon said the central bank was not broke and will be paying the company the $26 million that they are owed soon.
“The RBZ will write a cheque in a day or so. The RBZ is not broke. That, in fact, is untrue.
“Their results are audited by KPMG and BDO and the financials are signed on a going concern basis. They are not broke.
“The ministry of Finance is standing behind the RBZ,” Moxon said.