Mick Davis
Rainmakers & Potstirrers

Mick Davis

CEO: Vision Blue Resources


Get our rainmakers & potstirrers app now
‘If transport or energy are not available, you have to build your own, which adds to the collateral capital and reduces your returns’

MICK Davis’s Vision Blue Resources (VBR) raised $650m in April last year, outstripping the firm’s initial $500m target in an effort to further build out its portfolio of assets currently consisting of graphite, vanadium, silicon metal, tin, and rare earths. These minerals, the ‘bits and bobs’ of the energy transition in that they are niche but critical, have seen VBR plough money into in geographies as diverse as Canada and Cornwall. Most recently, Davis inked a $40m deal for lime in Papua New Guinea. But South Africa is absent from VBR’s investment hit list.

Speaking at an investment conference in Johannesburg, Davis didn’t mince his words, saying the country of his birth didn’t cut the mustard – to overextend the metaphor. South Africa’s difficulty attracting meaningful offshore investment has been discussed endlessly, especially in these pages. Suffice to say, Davis’s concerns focus on failing infrastructure (see quote above), uncertain security of tenure, and the shifting sands of government regulation. The only African country to attract VBR investment is Madagascar through NextSource which in October exported its first superflake grade of graphite from the island’s Molo mine.

In December, a feasibility study set down plans for a $162m expansion that will see Molo produce a steady-state 150,000 tons of graphite a year. Davis, once the leader of Xstrata and still an industry titan, takes his place in Miningmx’s Rainmakers & Potstirrers this year as South Africa’s golden opportunity gone a-begging.


One of South Africa’s finest exports, Sir Mick was Eskom’s financial director before joining Billiton and then on to Xstrata. After narrowly failing to take over Anglo American, he then fell out with shareholder Glencore, which resulted in him falling prey to a hostile takeover. Davis returned with the X2 Resources fund. Troubled by a restrictive shareholder mandate and the disruptive Covid pandemic, the fund was closed with no investments to its name. No worries, Mick returned with Vision Blue. Once the chairperson of the UK’s Conservative Party, he was knighted for services to Holocaust awareness.

More Rainmakers & Potstirrers