‘‘The difficult part is that you’ve got to have the confidence in your expenditure, whether it’s stay in business or expansion. I’m very serious about that’
CRAIG Coltman stepped into Bushveld Minerals just as the vanadium miner’s shares hit rock bottom. His back-to-basics strategy is aimed at refocusing on production for the steel sector while improving plant performance. He has his work cut out. Bushveld’s founding CEO, Fortune Mojapelo, was forced out in June 2023 after a litany of missed production promises and a strategy to invest in battery technology partners in the hope this would stimulate new demand.
While unquestionably visionary, the strategy was undermined by a deterioration in the firm’s core business. It made no sense to allocate capital to future demand when cash wasn’t being generated from existing demand. By the time of his departure – in a fiery shareholder meeting – Bushveld was nearly broke. With Coltman, who is divesting from the battery technology strategy, comes a bold recapitalisation programme from angel investor, the relatively unknown Southern Point Resources. It will invest up to $77.5m, which will give it a 50% stake in Bushveld’s Mpumalanga province Vanchem processing plant which blends vanadium ore from the firm’s Vametco mine in Limpopo with third-party ore. Southern Point has also taken responsibility for Bushveld’s marketing, injected working capital into the business, and bought shares in the listed entity.
The recapitalisation received a critical boost when in late November, Bushveld’s seed investor, the UK-based Orion Capital, agreed to refinance $46.9m in debt. “I have a plan,” says Coltman in blunt, practical terms. It will have to be an effective one. Investors have struggled to bring these vanadium assets to account ever since they were abandoned by Anglo American’s Highveld Steel in the 1990s.
LIFE OF CRAIG
Coltman, a chartered accountant, has served more than 30 years at De Beers, where he’s held various positions including CFO of De Beers Consolidated Mines. He continues to chair the De Beers Pension Fund. He is also treasurer of the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative, an organisation founded in 2002 to care for children in East and Southern Africa. A graduate of the University of Cape Town, Coltman lists adventure biking as a pastime.