FOR a year that promised so much, it would be dark humour to suggest that 2017 was a disappointment for John Clarke’s Banro. In early 2017, Clarke spoke of production increases from the firm’s Namoya and Twangiza mines in eastern DRC, and even the possibility of consolidating other regional resources. Hopes were bolstered further when shareholders approved a $207.5m recapitalisation whereby preference shares were converted to raise some $45m. This saw the share price leap from a low of eight Canadian cents per share to 78 cents. The share has since retreated heavily. Why? Local militia that battles among itself and the DRC National Army, and profound community dissatisfaction with Banro’s perceived failure to deliver on jobs and benefits, sees mining frequently disturbed and employees harmed. In May, four employees taken hostage two months earlier in an effort to extort $1m from the company were safely returned; others have been injured or killed, with mining being suspended during these times. In September, production was halted at Namoya after fighting resulted in damage to its only service road – since fixed. Then in November, Clarke issued a statement citing the findings of a company committee that said restructuring non-DRC debt would result in “significant impairment” of shareholder’s equity. As it stands, he’ll be lucky to have a company to manage in 2018.
LIFE OF JOHN
Previously CEO of Nevsun Resources, Clarke stepped into the breach at Banro at its darkest hour following the surprise resignation of its CEO in 2013. Before Nevsun, his other major mining executive role was at Ashanti Goldfields Corporation where he established its exploration programme in Ghana. He has a PhD from Cambridge University and an MBA from the University of Middlesex.
- Web Address: www.banro.com