Zim ‘frustrates’ lithium giant

PREMIER African Minerals Limited is now considering diversifying its exploration portfolio and identifying revenue-generating assets following the government’s delay to grant it an exclusive prospecting order (EPO) for its Zulu Lithium and Tantalum project.

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

In a statement accompanying the company’s annual report for the year ended December 31, 2019, chief executive officer George Roach said they were frustrated by the government’s delay to grant it an EPO.

“There remains no doubt in my mind that Premier African Minerals Limited must diversify its exploration portfolio and identify revenue generating assets that are actually in production and profitable now,” Roach said.

“The initial part acquisition of MN Holdings Otjozondu Mine in Namibia was a significant first step in the midst of the ongoing and very disappointing delays in Zimbabwe.”
He said dependence on exploration activities based exclusively in Zimbabwe where country risk and delay deny the opportunity to add value, is clearly “flawed yet exploration remains the best opportunity for substantial value generation and recovery in our company”.

“Our original philosophy of RHA Tungsten (Pvt) Limited (RHA) operating as a revenue generative unit facilitating exploration activities was frustrated, not in principle but in the facts of the very well documented problems at RHA and the Tungsten mining industry as a whole.”

“Premier’s focus should be on assuring cash generation on the one hand, and high grade exploration on the other and your board of directors is determined to move in this direction,” he said.

Premier last year engaged the mining affairs board seeking an EPO to kickstart the mining of lithium in the country.

Roach said following the application, they have been meeting frequently with the mining affairs board, Mines permanent secretary Onesimo Mazai Moyo and Mines minister Winston Chitando in a bid to finalise the matter.

It also attended to all questions, explanations, objections and had been assured repeatedly that the process to grant the EPO only required signatures.

“To date, the EPO still requires only signature. This experience in Zimbabwe only underlines my comments above and the need to acquire and be in control of a cash generative asset/s and country risk mitigating exploration properties,” he said.

In the period under review, the group reported a total comprehensive loss of US$26,238 million compared to US$7,758 million achieved in 2018.

Net funds of US$1,983 million were raised through direct subscriptions from the issue of share capital.

Premier is a multi-commodity mining and natural resource development company focused on southern Africa with its RHA Tungsten and Zulu Lithium projects in Zimbabwe.

The company has a diverse portfolio of projects, which include tungsten, rare earth elements, lithium and tantalum in Zimbabwe, encompassing brownfield projects with near-term production potential to grass-roots exploration.

In addition, the company holds a 19% interest in MN Holdings Limited, the operator of the Otjozondu Manganese Mining Project in Namibia.

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