‘The successful development of globally important potash projects such as Kola requires sustained support from all stakeholders’
GUARANTEES don’t come much cheaper than the Republic of the Congo government’s ‘moral guarantee’ to Kore Potash in August to encourage funders to support its $1.83bn Kola project. Still, this shows a mildly more supportive attitude from the government than in late 2022 when Kore was threatened with losing its operating licence if it did not make faster progress, and two senior executives were arrested without charge.
Various delays have beset Kola, the biggest of which has probably been Covid-19 and its lag effects, which have delayed conclusion of an EPC contract with Sepco, the Chinese contractor. Although the Summit Consortium (consisting of Summit Africa, BRP Global, Sepco and its subcontractor ENFI) has promised to fully fund Kola’s capital cost once the EPC terms are agreed, Kore needs ongoing market support for working capital. The government’s threats shaved 18% off the share price immediately. Unfortunately, these delays mean Kola has missed the recent boom in potash prices that followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but there seems to be no lack of commitment on management’s part to advancing the Kola project speedily.
Hathorn, who has been acting CEO since end-November after the resignation of Brad Sampson, recently became an 8.2% shareholder of the company by contributing $750 000 to Kore’s latest $2.5m share issue to help fund Kola. Sepco is expected to deliver its funding proposal in the first quarter of this year and Hathorn hopes contractors will start to mobilise on site soon afterwards. Kola is one of three potential Kore Potash projects in that country, but the company may sell the Dougou Extension project to help raise funds.
LIFE OF DAVID
Hathorn is a former CEO of Mondi, the paper producer formerly owned by Anglo American. He joined Anglo in 1989 as a divisional finance manager and was appointed to head Mondi in 2000, becoming a member of Anglo’s group executive committee. Anglo divested from Mondi seven years later. He continued to run the group very successfully, spearheading its international diversification, until his ‘retirement’ in 2017, at only 56. He was educated at Hilton College and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, where he studied for a BCom. He is a CA and CFA.