‘There’s a negative connotation to being called a junior miner. Bigger doesn’t mean better or smarter’
MIKE Miller didn’t have mining in his life plan, but a desire to improve the lot of rural communities after writing a Master’s degree on why black economic empowerment deals failed saw him land Mantengu Mining. That’s the short version of the story. Miller said in an interview that the mining company was a means of proving his new financing model could work. Ideals aside, Miller is now focused on the grittier issue of making sure two chrome processing plants at the firm’s R200m Langpan acquisition deliver on time.
He previously targeted the first quarter for full production of some 25,000 to 35,000 tons of concentrate a month. Going forward, Mantengu intends to buy other assets in the mining, mining services, and energy sectors that may have come a cropper owing to failed financing. In November it signed R500m in equity financing with New York-based GEM (Global Yield Fund). While equity is expensive finance, Miller says the ability of Mantengu to immediately draw down on cash (for shares) will give him the edge in competing for assets. It’s ballsy stuff for a new miner like Miller with no track record and volatile market conditions, especially as South Africa is notoriously closed to small mining.
So far, the markets are sceptical. Shares in Mantengu were more than 90% weaker since the company relisted in Johannesburg in August 2022 via the reverse takeover of Mine Restoration Investments, a company Miller chaired from 2017 to 2020 where he assisted in its compliance obligations.
LIFE OF MIKE
Miller, who has a BCom and a Master’s degree in finance from the University of Cape Town, served his accounting articles at Deloitte before leaving the office behind for the life of a ranger at Londolozi, the esteemed game reserve. It was there that he developed an interest in unlocking contested rural land which somehow morphed into mining. Miller was also commercial manager at Dimension Data, and founder of Disruption Capital. He has been CEO of Mantengu Mining since March 2023 having served as chair of its forerunner Mine Restoration Investments from 2017 to 2020.