‘After years of standing idle, Blyvoor is now a profitable mine with healthy growth and a positive outlook’
RICHARD Floyd teamed up with the late mining entrepreneur Peter Skeat in 2015 to bring historic West Rand gold mine Blyvooruitzicht out of liquidation. Prior to that the mine had been left to rot after a deal to transfer the property fell through. Skeat was a master at spotting value, especially in unloved assets. Prior to his death in April last year the mine – held in a new entity called Blyvoor Gold – was targeting 100,000 ounces a year in gold production.
No mean ambition for a company that reopened in the teeth of the Covid pandemic, producing 30,000 oz. Floyd says the plan is to get to 200,000 oz/year and double the mine’s 1,800 staff complement in the process. Before that he needs to marshal more funds from offshore backers.
Since 2015, R2bn has been ploughed into the mine, some of which was from Orion Resource Partners, a New York-headquartered bank through which Blyvoor Gold was able to land R900m in return for a 20% stake in the mine. Happily, the rand gold price has played ball, increasing more than 100% in the past five years and improving Blyvoor’s prospects. Against this background, a listing is a possibility, says Floyd. But it's not been plain sailing.
In November, employees staged a brief underground sit-in on the basis they wanted to overturn the closed-shop agreement with Blyvoor Workers’ Union, with some other benefits thrown in such as work incentives and a 13th cheque. The protest ended after it was declared illegal by the Labour Court. But the incident goes to show producing gold in a relatively abandoned region of Johannesburg is filled with risk.
LIFE OF RICHARD
Floyd graduated from the University of Cape Town with law and business science degrees. After working as an attorney in mining, he joined father-in-law Peter Skeat in Galaxy Gold, which traded briefly on the JSE. Floyd took full control of Blyvoor Gold following the passing last year of Skeat, with whom he had co-founded the firm. Floyd is a full-on action man: a triathlete with interests in flying (including helicopters), he also finds time for diving (underwater, not flying) and sailing. He is deputy chair of the Brakpan Aero Club and owns several endurance horses (as pets, apparently).