MC Mining shareholders seek removal of key directors as clock ticks on critical project funding

DELAYS finalising critical funding required ahead of the construction of the Makhado coking coal project have snapped the patience of shareholders in MC Mining, the Johannesburg listed firm behind the R575m project.

Shareholders representing about 6.8% of MC Mining’s issued share capital have requisitioned a general meeting in an effort to depose the company’s interim CEO Sam Randazzo as well as its chairman, Bernard Pryor.

MC Mining said it could not confirm whether a general meeting would be held. “We are checking the validity of the request for the meeting and cannot comment further at this time,” a spokesman said in a statement.

Yi He and Jun Liu as well as Dendocept Proprietary Ltd made the application in terms of South Africa’s Corporations Act. They intend to replace Randazzo and Pryor as directors on the board with Nhlanhla Nene and Godfrey Gomwe.

Both Nene and Gomwe have had high profile former careers. Nene was fired by former president Jacob Zuma in 2015 after refusing to approve business dealings that benefited Zuma family associates the Gupta brothers. He was last year appointed chairman of Thebe Investment Corporation.

Gomwe was previously chief operating officer of Anglo American and prior to that headed up the group’s thermal coal operations in South Africa. He is currently a non-executive director of Orion Minerals and AECI, the chemicals company.

MC Mining has struggled to finalise the funding of Makhado. It said in January it had asked for more time to pay the balance on properties acquired in 2019 on which the Makhado project will be built. Makhado has been scoped to produce one million tons of coal comprising 540,000 tons of hard coking coal and 570,000 tons of thermal coal by-product.

The company also announced it had asked shareholder and lender the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) to again extend the repayment date of some R160m as well as the terminal draw-down date for R245m.

Funding for thermal coal projects has all but dried up globally as lenders turn their attention to renewable energy. Makhado needs a total of R575m. MC Mining said in 2020 the IDC “remained supportive”.