Bernard Swanepoel to chair Simmers

[] — Bernard Swanepoel will take over as chairman of Simmer and Jack Mines (Simmers) at the company’s annual general meeting (AGM), which will be held on September 10.

This follows the decision by current chairman Vusi Khanyile not to make himself available for re-election as a director at the AGM.

Swanepoel was first proposed as a director and potential chairman of Simmers in November last year by the company’s black economic empowerment partner Vulisango.

The proposal was rejected by then chairman Nigel Brunette, but Brunette and CEO Gordon Miller subsequently agreed to resign and shift to running associate First Uranium in an attempt to defuse the corporate confrontation taking place with Vulisango.

Khanyile became chairman on December 10 in place of Brunette.

He said: “I accepted the position of chairman in December 2009, precisely because I believed I could play a role in helping to restore investor confidence through the creation of a strong and effective board capable of putting the company on a steady footing and positioning it to deliver on its potential.

“I believe that this has now been achieved and I am confident that the company is in safe hands.’

Swanepoel told Miningmx he would be a non-executive chairman, with the bulk of his time allocated to his executive role at Village Main which now owns Lesego Platinum.

He said: “I am quite confident we have a management team at Simmers which can deliver on the stated objectives that are out there in terms of performance from the current assets.

“I am also comfortable that management team has the capacity to look at further opportunities that may arise. The early objectives have been achieved, and initially it is going to be a case of more of the same to make sure Tau Lekoa and Buffelsfontein perform at a high level.’

Swanepoel added he intended ensuring a culture of accountability within Simmers from board level down for the stated objectives.

As a result of the protracted battle for control of the Simmers board, it now consists of a number of high-profile mining executives.

These include Impala Platinum CEO David Brown , Aquarius Platinum CEO Stuart Murray and former Anglo Platinum CEO Ralph Havenstein .

Swanepoel said: “It is a privilege to chair a board like that.’

While conditions seem to be finally turning around for Simmers, movements in the share price of 37%-held subsidiary First Uranium seem to indicate investors are unhappy about prospects. This is despite the recent financial bailout organised by Simmers.

The First Uranium share price dropped 19% on the JSE on Tuesday to hit 545c, compared with 858c on July 13.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange the share has been on a steady decline since last October, when it stood at C$4.00. It dropped to below C$3.00 by early January and reached as low as C$0.72 in early trading on Tuesday.

Asked about this, Swanepoel said: “I have certainly noted the recent drop in the First Uranium share price, but there is nothing I am aware of that would explain it.

“I believe everything at First Uranium is now on a good and sound footing.’

The writer owns shares in Simmer and Jack Mines.