2017 was another good year for Bristow at Randgold. Although he did run into major strife at his second job as chairman of Rockwell Diamonds, into which he has pumped his own money to keep the troubled junior going. Randgold has built on the solid financial and production bases established in 2016 when the group effectively achieved financial independence in terms of its ability to fund construction of a new mine without resorting to debt, calling on its shareholders, or having to trim dividend payments. That’s what the $500m cash war chest the group has built up is earmarked for. Not that 2017 was an easy year. The Democratic Republic of Congo government continues to hold back more than $200m in VAT and duty refunds payable to Randgold’s Kibali mine, and is also debating introducing a new Mining Code – which could have serious consequences. Bristow is concerned, but optimistic about the situation because he points out that in the DRC, unlike South Africa “... you can engage in an open forum with government and 90% of the time the commercial logic will prevail”. On the Rockwell front, its three South African subsidiaries were put into provisional liquidation in September after a protracted legal battle. At the time of writing, the liquidation applications had been postponed to March while a proposal to acquire the subsidiaries as a going concern is worked on.
LIFE OF MARK
He’s a self-confessed workaholic whose life revolves around Randgold, the company he founded in the mid 90s – and then developed into the world’s ‘go-to’ gold stock investment. That’s despite starting out in the depths of a gold industry and gold price bust following the Bre-X scandal and then having to survive a lengthy confrontation with the Kebble family, which at one time effectively controlled the company. Bristow played a key role in Brett Kebble’s eventual demise. He’s a geologist holding a PhD from the University of Natal.
- Web Address: www.randgoldresources.com