MARK Wellesley-Wood, the controversial mining CEO and financier who was long the nemesis of the late Kebbles, Roger and Brett, has suddenly passed away.
KEFI Minerals, a UK-listed company of which Wellesley-Wood was chairman, announced Wellesley-Wood’s passing earlier today.
“Wellesley-Wood was a gentleman of the highest integrity and discipline, a true professional who made a great contribution to the industry internationally over decades and to our company in recent years,” the company said in a statement.
Another company with which he was involved, Tristar Resources, announced today that it had learned of “the shocking news” of Wellesley-Wood’s death. It acknowledged Wellesley-Wood as “… a deeply knowledgeable and wise leader”.
Wellesley-Wood burst on to the South African mining industry as non-executive chairman of Durban Roodepoort Deep (which became DRDGold) in May, 2000. Less than a year later he ousted the person who hired him – Roger Kebble – after claiming Kebble had committed fraud in the R123m purchase of the Rawas gold mine in Indonesia.
Thus began a prolonged period of hostility between Wellesley-Wood and the Kebbles that extended to Brett Kebble, the latter infamously referring to Wellesley-Wood as the pin-striped bandit from London.
Wellesley-Wood enjoyed some success with Durban Roodepoort Deep which he restructured and branded as ‘the Roodepoort Rocket’ owing to its leverage to dollar gold price increases. During one particularly lucrative quarter, he played Pink Floyd’s ‘Money’ as analysts and media took their auditorium seats. In the end, however, the momentum could not be sustained. Wellesley-Wood retired from DRDGold in 2006.
Trading off his self-imposed monikor of “Mr Fixit”, Wellesley-Wood returned to southern Africa on at least two occasions: first in collaboration with Mzi Khumalo as the CEO of Metallon Corporation’s parent company, Redwing Mining; and then again in 2013 as the chairman of Mwana Africa, a gold and base metals company in Zimbabwe.
Wellesley-Wood’s appointment at Mwana was despite him saying at the time that he was “officially retired” and had no full-time working objectives. In typical Wellesley-Wood fashion, he left the company amid fireworks only a year later.
Commenting on the death of Roger Kebble in 2015, Wellesley-Wood was charitable, commenting to Miningmx that: “He was a character and the world actually needs more characters like Roger” – a description that could well be imputed to Wellesley-Wood.
Wellesley-Wood had recently bought a house in Scotland where he intended to truly embrace retirement. He is survived by his wife Shona , three children, and one grandchild.