“I’m not building a mining company; I’m essentially investing in opportunities where I think value can be created..”
‘MICK the miner’, as he was known in City of London circles, assumed a new role in the mining sector in 2021 as chairman of Vision Blue Resources (VBR), a company initially backed by $60m in private funds. Blue may figure prominently in the company title but its vision is actually green. VBR’s initial investment was a $29.5m stake in NextSource Materials, which has a graphite project in Madagascar. Graphite is one of the commodities in demand for the electric vehicles (EVs) that will drive the green energy transition on the road. “Here we’re seeing the key driver being the transition to green energy and the almost globally mandated reduction of CO 2, and that is leading to a new secular shift in demand,” Davis has said. He sees this as “a mandated political structural change in the way that economies function” - which means you don’t want to be left in the lurch.
VBR has also done a $300m capital raising with New York-listed SPAC ESM Acquisition Company, which has an explicit mandate to invest in green energy initiatives. This space is likely to give Davis more opportunities than the dearth he found during his brief involvement with X2 Resources, which found no suitable projects for investment. Davis, a former CFO of Billiton, the South African company that merged with BHP to create the world’s largest mining company, can be expected to aim big. ‘Founding CEO of Xstrata’ also features on his resumé, as well as a three-year stint as treasurer and CEO of the UK Conservative Party.
LIFE OF MICK
One of South Africa’s best-known mining executives, he was CFO of Billiton when it listed in London, leaving after its merger with BHP, in order to run Xstrata. After a period building Xstrata into a globally diverse mining house, he famously fell out with Glencore CEO, Ivan Glasenberg when the two clashed over the merger of their respective companies. Mick stood back from business a while becoming treasurer and CEO of the Conservative Party. He returned briefly with a private equity company, X2 Resources, but couldn’t find projects in which to invest. Davis was knighted in 2015 for services to Holocaust commemoration and education.