‘If the South African [junior mining] sector was in Australia, half of the 6,000 closed mines would have been reworked. That’s a fact’
JASON Brewer could be the breath of fresh air South Africa’s junior mining industry desperately needs. Although a lot of his claims are exactly that – claims – his Australian can-do approach will be interesting to witness this year. In essence, Marula plans to build three mines, starting with a lithium operation called Blesberg Lithium in the Northern Cape. Previously a tantalum mine, Marula is mining spodumene, a concentrate financed with a $5m offtake agreement with Traxys, a commodities trader. A copper mine called Kinusi and the Nyorinyori graphite prospect, both in Tanzania, are also in the pipeline.
South African investors will get a closer look at Marula when Brewer completes the switch of the firm’s AQSE exchange listing to a primary LSE presence as this will include secondary listings in Johannesburg as well as Nairobi, where Marula is headquartered. Brewer is enormously optimistic, even by a junior miner’s standards. Half of South Africa’s 6,000 closed mines would have been reworked several times had they been in Australia, he declared at a conference in June last year. In addition to the plethora of prospects, South Africa is flush with skills and services ideal to junior mining, he said.
Brewer’s optimism was best demonstrated in December when the Marula board approved a dividend policy promising to pay out 30% to 35% of free cash flow semi-annually provided there was a £10m cash back-up in the company treasury. Marula is also involved in Neo Energy Metals, which has colourful entrepreneur Quinton van der Burgh’s Q Global Commodities Group as an investor. Q Global Commodities Group provided Marula with a £3.75m multi-tranche equity investment as the entrepreneur sought to diversify from his empire in coal.
LIFE OF JASON
Brewer graduated from Imperial College in London with a mining engineering degree and spent 11 years working for heavyweight investment banks including NM Rothschild. He then dived into junior mining, participating in a long list of AIM and Sydney listed firms, many of which had African exposure. His affinity with Kenya developed in a near two-year stint as the commercial director of Caracal Gold followed by a number of others including property and mining firm Gathoni Muchai Investments. He had been CEO of Marula for about two years at the time of writing.