Tsodilo gains a BRC DiamondCore executive

[miningmx.com] — MICHIEL de Wit is the new president and chief operating office at Tsodilo Resources, which is exploring for diamonds and base metals in Botswana, as his position at embattled BRC DiamondCore is decided in the next few months.

De Wit, who has enormous experience in diamond exploration, having worked at De Beers for nearly 30 years, will remain as president at BRC for the foreseeable future, but he said there are changes coming at the company and his role may be changed.

BRC’s liquidated South African assets are in the process of being sold to a private investor, allowing the TSX- and JSE-listed company to focus on its partnership with Rio Tinto in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in exploring for diamonds and iron ore.

“We’re quite involved with Rio Tinto in the north of DRC but the whole programme is fairly restricted, if you like, in terms of work time, so I’m acting more as a consultant to BRC rather than full time, because there is no position at the moment as a full time employee,’ de Witt told Miningmx.

Given the extra time available to him, he’s been helping Tsodilo on their prospects. He joined Tsodilo’s board in November 2009 as a non-executive director, consulting to the group on its kimberlite exploration in Botswana, seeking out new targets and boosting its search for base and precious metal prospects.

His appointment as a Tsodilo executive is effective from the start of May.

“I’m splitting myself in two, so to speak,’ de Witt said. “We are busy reorganising BRC to focus on the few projects we have left in the DRC, which are very interesting but need some legal resolutions. We are busy with that and we’ll go forward in a slightly different way.’

Asked if he would remain with BRC, he said: “For the moment yes, definitely. Once we’ve got ourselves reorganised I’ll probably take a slightly different position with them, but that will all resolve itself in the next month or two.’

Brian Scallan, the vice president of finance at BRC, said because of the reduced amount of work he, for example, was now doing work for Banro, the DRC gold explorer which is the dominant shareholder in BRC.

De Witt still supervises all BRC’s exploration, but this is at a reduced level because Rio Tinto is doing the work on the iron ore exploration prospect. He still does work on BRC’s diamond prospects.

Tsodilo owns 95% of a company called Newdico, which houses its diamond prospects, with South African diamond producer Trans Hex holding the remaining five percent. Tsodilo is listed on the TSX Venture Exchange.

It wholly owns another company, Gcwihaba Resources, which holds its base and precious metals interests. De Witt said there is a strong focus on copper and cobalt potential in the northwest of Botswana. It is believed the Zambia copperbelt extends into that part of the country.

The detailed work on the cores and samples from the base metal prospects is done by consultants, with de Witt overseeing the results and deciding how to proceed. His focus is more on the diamond side.

The thinking in Tsodilo is that northwestern Botswana may be underlain by part of the Angolan shield, with some micro-diamonds recovered. “I’m working through all the data to see which are the more interesting kimberlites from which we want to take more proper, controlled micro-diamond samples,’ he said.

“Our projects are at a stage where all our persistence and diligence these past years are paying off and Mike is the right person to move things forward,’ said James Bruchs, Tsodilo’s chairman.

Meanwhile, BRC is awaiting the final regulatory clearances in selling its South African assets, which were liquidated. A private investor has agreed to buy the mines, Scallan said.

A rumour doing the rounds that BRC director Stephen Thomson is a beneficiary of the transaction was denied by Scallan, who said Thomson had used a shelf company of which he was a director to facilitate the deal to dispose of the South African mines.

“He is not a beneficiary in this transaction at all,’ Scallan said.

A raid by liquidators on Scallan’s home for documents was deemed illegal and BRC was awarded costs in the matter.