Barrick chief to buy diamond mine in South Africa

Barrick chief to buy diamond mine in South Africa

Barrick Gold’s chief executive, Mark Bristow.

Johannesburg. Barrick Gold’s president and chief executive officer Mark Bristow will add South Africa’s Rockwell Diamonds to his personal portfolio if the beleaguered miner agrees to delist and be taken private, it was reported yesterday.

The mining.com, which markets itself as Number one source for global mining news and opinion, reported yesterday that the deal would see Rockwell merging with Mr Bristow’s wholly-owned 1274787 BC, a Canada, British Columbia-based diamond company better known as Britsco.

Shares in the South African miner, except those held by Mr Bristow and any dissenting shareholders, would then be exchanged for redeemable preferred shares in the amalgamated corporation at C$5 cents per share in cash.

Mr Bristow, the founder and owner of Randgold Resources, a gold miner that Barrick acquired in 2018, acted as Rockwell’s top boss for six months to May 2011.

In October that year he joined the board and currently holds about 2.4 percent of the JSE-listed diamond company.

While Rockwell still holds alluvial diamond mines in South Africa, it has de-consolidated its investments and mineral property interests in the country in recent years.

The move followed a “loss of control and value stemming from being in liquidation since November 2016 and awaiting final liquidation proceedings” expected this year, Rockwell said in the statement.

Rockwell issues surfaced when the company found significant irregularities in the conduct of a major contractor and one senior employee who were terminated in 2016, reports Mining.com.

The situation, the miner says, included equipment sabotage and the contractor filing for a liquidation order against the company’s three main operating subsidiaries.

The company noted that its board hired auditing firm KPMG to obtain a formal valuation. The firm deemed the offer fair from a financial point of view to Rockwell’s shareholders other than Bristow.

Rockwel’s board will vote on the deal at the upcoming meeting, to be held the first week of March.

If approved, Mr Bristow will own and control 100 percent of the issued and outstanding common shares of the combined entity.

Rockwell announced on Friday it planned to gradually wind down, adding that it had already applied to delist from the JSE and to cease to be a reporting issuer in Canada.

The company also said the Ontario Securities Commission had granted full revocation of a failure-to-file case trade order in December, previously ordered against the company in July 2018.

Mr Bristow has been popular in Tanzania during the long winded negotiations between Barrick Gold and the government which were completed last year.

It was Mr Bristow who signed a deal with Tanzania’s minerals minister Doto Biteko last year that saw the government of Tanzania acquiring stakes in Barrick Gold’s three gold mines.

The deal followed an announcement by the two sides in October, 2019 in which they agreed to a payment of $300 million to settle outstanding tax and other disputes, the lifting of an export ban on concentrates and the sharing of future economic benefits from mines.

South Africa-born Bristow, describing the dispute as a “long safari” since it emerged in 2017, struck a conciliatory tone in a speech at the ceremony broadcast on state TV. Safari means “journey” in Swahili.

“Many people said your criticism will chase away investors … what it’s done is challenge the mining industry and all of us to embark on something where we win together or lose together,” Mr Bristow said to applause.

Casting himself as a “Zulu boy” born in Zululand, Mr Bristow called it a “historical day” for Africa. (Agencies)

The company said it had budgeted $50 million for brown and greenfield exploration in Tanzania in 2020.

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