Bristow plans recap of Rockwell after period of ‘fumigation’

Mark Bristow, CEO, Barrick Gold

A CONSORTIUM led by Mark Bristow, possibly assisted by a third party, would reinvest in Rockwell Diamonds following a period of “fumigation”, the company said today.

Bristow is the chairman of Rockwell, a company listed in Johannesburg that mines for alluvial diamonds on the banks of the Middle Orange River in the Northern Cape province.

Better known as the CEO of Randgold Resources, Bristow propped up Rockwell’s finances twice before and in June 2014 bought $1.1m worth of debentures in the firm potentially raising his stake to 9%.

“We have rightsized the business down to its core; we have taken non-core assets and found interested parties for them; and we have received funding commitments for a new Rockwell,” said Bristow in an interview.

Rockwell announced it had parted ways with CEO, James Campbell and some of its other senior managers, in September following findings by a special board committee the previous month.

The committee took a dim view of how Rockwell had dealt with its newly acquired Remhoogte project as well as the poor progress of Wouterspan, a new mine.

Tjaart Willemse, who had earlier joined Rockwell’s executive, was appointed CEO of the company whilst the company’s CFO and resource manager resigned following the board review.

Following Campbell’s departure, however, Rockwell was on the back foot defending a claim (successfully) from a contractor – C-Rock Mining (CML) – to have certain equipment returned to it, a so-called ‘spoliation order’.

CML has also applied to liquidate Rockwell, but Bristow said it was unlikely to succeed. “It’s hard to see that sticking,” said Bristow who added that the focus was now on new management.

“I don’t think there’ll be any more management changes in the senior ranks,” said Willemse. “We’ve done some fumigation, if you can call it that, and those who have remained have really taken ownership,” he added.

Commenting on the legal matters, Willemse said: “When you look at the way things happened you get the impression that it was all pre-determined. But we know what we are doing and we’ve strengthened our case”.

Subsequent to management changes, a forensic audit also uncovered possible evidence of improper business dealings involving one of Rockwell’s senior managers.

Willemse said this did not extend directly to Campbell. “James left not because of any allegation related to misconduct,” said Willemse. “But he did not pick up what was happening.”

Wouterspan was back in operation and would be at full tilt in about a week with a view to getting Rockwell to a short-term mining rate of 200,000 cubic metres a month. The company had also identified other organic projects. “Without doubt, we’ve got a good little business here,” said Bristow.

“It’s very well structured and its got blue sky, and good management. But the title of my trip [to South Africa] has been ‘Execution’,” said Bristow.

“The best way to build this company is to do it organically by clearing out some of the fog. We have been slowly chiselling away at the exploration and I think we’ve highlighted some real potential,” said Bristow.

Campbell has since been appointed managing director of Botswana Diamonds, a company listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market, which is is joint venture with Alrosa.

6 COMMENTS

  1. If the fumigation has been successful, then why are the same people still there using the same failed management systems? Mining the Orange River terraces by committee now? The company is commercially insolvent and the living “legend” is owned lock stock and barrel by the owners of the debt. Who also happen to be the owners of the present and future diamond production. Miningmx continues to erode its credibility with polite stories about the chaos company, for and behalf of the highest knucklehead in diamond mining.

  2. Speak to people who were once close to him, David. And people inside his own companies, off the record. His ego is out of control, he has alienated just about everybody except his sycophants, he installs management he can bully and does not accept responsibility for the mess. And instead of reporting the facts like you do others, you buy and rework the spin to cover the failures which are constant. Question people are asking David is why you lionise him as you do? Bizarre, to say the least. That is a better question to ask.

    • Howdy

      If you’re talking about Rockwell, sure; there’s a lot to answer for and I will be following the story. But as for reworking spin …? The article you read was the outcome of a telephonic interview I requested. Other coverage, at least the stuff I’ve seen, has been based on the Sens announcement.

      As for lionising Mark Bristow, I think you have to look objectively at the track record of Randgold Resources. It is widely acknowledged as a premium gold stock in the UK, picked and favoured by many banks and brokers: a very solid company.

      You are welcome to phone me if you think there’s imminent disaster breaking out at Randgold. I’m easily contactable, and keep your identity confidential, but at least I’ll know where you’re coming from.

      Until then, Merry Xmas. Keep reading and commenting.

  3. I have thought about your response and especially your unwarranted use of the word “hate” in your first sentence. That is a really strong, and unfortunate, word to use.
    You are welcome to peruse all my past posts on the subject- I do not believe I been mean spirited in my praise of the massive success of Randgold Resources or the individual who built it.
    He is the undoubted King of West African gold mining. I have never denied that and given credit where it is due.
    Your flawed fallback position is that success in West African gold would translate into success in South African alluvial diamond mining, and therefore there would be no need for any robust reporting on what is a management failure of epic proportions.
    But Rockwell Diamonds is not in West Africa, is not a gold company, and is not a success story. It is common cause that management has been unsuitable, poor and weak, and the directors have a huge destruction of wealth to answer for. They have been aware of the situation for years.
    So hate is the incorrect word. And I do not hate anybody. What I DETEST is the continuous sycophantic reporting here regarding a disgraceful situation for which any other management teams would have been slaughtered and vilified.
    Compare your kid-glove treatment of Campbell over 5 years with the latest headline on the new Impala CEO, Nico Muller, who has not even been given the chance to show what he can do. There are many other examples of this sort of reporting here.
    I maintain my position. King of Gold. Clown of alluvial Diamonds. There is no middle ground.

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