Is the elusive Kameni on the raid again?

18 December 2010 | 04:53 Code : 20362 Geoscience events
Kameni, a shadowy unlisted South Africa-based entity, has been named by individuals....

Kameni, a shadowy unlisted South Africa-based entity, has been named by individuals familiar with the situation as the apparent force behind attempts to clandestinely take over, essentially for free, a prime platinum group metal (PGM) deposit in Zimbabwe.Repeated attempts by your correspondent to contact Kameni CEO Barend Meulenbeld have failed, for several working days on the trot; make that months. Attempts to meet with Kameni chairman Loucas Pouroulis and the erstwhile Kameni CEO, Stephen Gorven, have proven unsuccessful for nearly 18 months.This week it emerged that Kameni’s prior exterior public relations outfit dropped the Kameni account about a year ago. Today, a spokesperson for Serui, Kameni’s apparent PGM prey in Zimbabwe, said in response to questions that "We do not comment on rumours. However we are comfortable with the Zimbabwean government’s fair treatment of foreign investors in the mining sector".Impala Platinum, the world’s No 2 producer of PGMs, recently announced a USD 500m expansion of its mining operations in Zimbabwe.Through Zimari Platinum, a joint venture with the ZMDC (the Zimbabwe Mineral Development Corporation), some USD 5.7m has been invested at Serui since mid-2007. Serui, says the spokesperson, "was a relatively high risk greenfields exploration project which we now look forward to developing into a successful platinum mine for the benefit of the investors and Zimbabwe".To this day, Kameni continues to advertise on its website two platinum projects, Bougai (also in Zimbabwe), and Kalkfontein (more correctly, Tamboti), in South Africa. A majority stake in Bougai was acquired by Camec (Central African Mining & Exploration Company Plc), when it announced on 11 April 2008 the buying of a 60% stake in Todal, which owns the Bougai and Kironde concessions near Gweru, Zimbabwe.For its 60% in Todal, Camec paid USD 5m in cash, and issued 215m of its shares, worth about GBP 100m at the time. Camec also loaned USD 100m to Todal’s parent company. Camec learned later in 2008 that ownership of the Bougai concession was being hawked around by Kameni, in efforts, apparently successful, to hook investors.London-listed ENRC, one of the world’s top 25 miners by value, on 18 September 2009 announced that it would buy Camec for GBP 584m in cash. Just a month ago, ENRC indicated that it was keen to start building a mine at the Bougai deposit. The Bougai project was held until early 2008 by the world’s No 1 PGM miner, Anglo Platinum, which undertook extensive work on the project, starting way back in 1969.In September 2009, Kameni was chastised by Impala Platinum over a December 2008 Kameni presentation, where Kalkfontein (Tamboti) appeared, along with Bougai. Impala CEO David Brown said Kameni had been too "liberal" with regard to its references to Impala."I am however not privy to how the presentation was given or if in fact it was ever used for fund raising purposes", Brown said.  Earlier in 2009, by its own admissions, Kameni completed the raising of hundreds of millions of rands (and also possibly other currencies) to develop Bougai, and Tamboti.Where Kameni claimed that Impala was contributing prospecting rights over portions of Kalkfontein and Buffelshoek, "in return for a 20% interest" in the project, in fact Impala’s 20% "flip up" is only potential, being highly conditional on Kameni completing a number of strenuous milestones.First, Kameni must complete a bankable feasibility study (BFS) on Tamboti; this is always a tough nut to crack. Second, Kameni must secure full funding for the potential build of a mine, implying a minimum of USD 1bn. Only then would Impala even consider whether to take a 20% stake in the project in exchange for the mineral rights.For the meantime, 100% of the rights over Tamboti remain vested in Impala. Kameni conflates its "Kalkfontein project" to include Tamboti: Kameni directly holds rights over another portion of the Kalkfontein farm.For now, it seems that Kameni is content with living in a cloud cuckoo land, where it labours investors under the burden of projects it does not own. Equally clear is that Kameni has quit on the Bougai fantasy. The challenge for Kameni is that it desperately needs to continue dragging its investors along.

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