Sunday, December 16, 2018
Rob Wagner

Rob Wagner


THERE are hot seats and then there are HOT seats. Wagner is undertaking one of the most challenging junior mining developments ever tried in South Africa. Not only will he have to contend with the country’s toxic political image, but he’s also trying to break into a sector of the mining industry dominated by a “600-pound gorilla” in the form of Spanish industrial minerals group Minersa. As Miningmx wrote back in September after Wagner announced SepFluor was going ahead with the R1.7bn Nokeng Fluorspar mine, the default reaction from observers could be summed up as “... what have these guys been smoking?” Wagner, along with his backers who include South African serial mining entrepreneurs Rudolph de Bruin and David Twist, is unfazed despite the fact that he has, so far, dodged one bullet. The consortium of banks backing SepFlour’s project signed up on 9 June, just five days before mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane released the new draft Mining Charter after which all hell broke loose between the South African government and the Chamber of Mines. Regarding breaking into the market as a newcomer against Minersa, Wagner reckons he has that sorted through an innovative marketing deal. SepFluor has agreed to sell forward 40% of its expected production during the first three years fixed at current prices in a marketing environment where prices are expected to rise sharply over this period.


Wagner’s nearly 30 years’ experience in the mining sector began with JCI in 1988 as a junior engineer at Randfontein Estates. He subsequently worked across a range of commodities including gold, chrome, nickel, copper and manganese. He was previously GM at AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng mine and joined BHP Billiton in 2002 as GM for Western Chrome. He subsequently held positions as operations director for Norilsk Nickel; CEO for Metgold responsible for Metallon Gold in Zimbabwe, and CEO of African Nickel. He joined SepFluor as CEO in 2015.