Kropz takes on more debt as Elandsfontein hits mining problems

Phosphate fertilizer

Phosphate developer Kropz has run into mining problems which will further delay the ramp-up of operations at its Elandsfontein phosphate mine in the Western Cape and has been forced to raise an additional R121.5m in loans from major shareholder African Rainbow Capital (ARC).

A revised mineral resource estimate may have to be published once the results of additional drilling on the orebody have been interpreted.

The latest problem concerns the orebody which has now been shown to contain “competent banks of hard rock material within the orebody that were previously unknown”  according to a statement released to the London Stock Exchange.

The statement added, “this hard material cannot be mined using free-digging methods and so new equipment has been brought to site to test mechanical breakage of the material and alternative mining methods are being identified.

“In order to assess the impact of this hard material on the future mine plan, further drilling is currently in progress.  A revised mineral resource estimate will be produced, if necessary, once the results of this drilling have been interpreted ”

The delay in ramping up operations has caused a funding shortfall with  Kropz  having to raise R70m for the mine immediately.

Some R13.5m of that will be sourced through the final drawdown of the R177m  convertible equity facility that Kropz agreed with ARC in May this year.

The balance will come from a new R121.5m bridge loan which is intended to meet cash requirements at Elandsfontein to the end of August this year.   Kropz drew down  R60m of that loan on August 9.

This loan is unsecured and repayable on demand on no less than two business days notice. The interest rate set is at the South African prime overdraft rate plus 6%.

The company statement says Kropz director and beneficial owner Mike Nunn was not involved in approval of the loan by the company’s board because ARC and Kropz International are treated as acting in concert for the purposes of the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers.

It adds that “the directors of the company – who are considered independent for the purposes of the loan, having consulted with the company’s nominated advisor, consider the terms of the loan to be fair and reasonable insofar as the company’s shareholders are concerned.”