Mining Weekly Online can today report that Khumo Bathong is in discussion to buy the 70% held by German billionaire Claas Daun Daun et Cie, which has invested R140-million in the ERPM operation since helping to buy it out of liquidation two years ago.
This follows the intention of Daun to sell his stake in the wake of a forensic audit that resulted in the suspension of senior executives.
The audit was being undertaken on behalf of the main shareholder by Deloitte & Touche Forensic Services of Cape Town, which has been uncovering a series of irregularities.
Mining Weekly Online can today report that central to enquiries are: - companies contracted to sweep, vamp and vacuum underground.
- irregular procurement practices.
- monthly payment to a senior manager by a supplier.
As a result of the audit, Khumo Bathong chairperson Dr Paseka Ncholo resigned as both chairperson and director of ERPM.
MiningWeekly Online requested an interview with Ncholo in writing, but his office said he was involved in a series of meetings relating to ERPM.
Ncholo is believed to be marshalling support to acquire the remaining 70% from Daun et Cie, possibly in a linkage with the Industrial Development Corporation and Durban Roodepoort Deep (DRD).
Khomo Bathong is a 3% shareholder of DRD and a 60% shareholder of Crown, the DRD dump-recycling company.
An association with ERPM would dovetail with DRD’s plans to remine the Central Rand in terms of its Argonaut project, which it intends pursuing once again.
Meanwhile, a procurement official at ERPM is under strong scrutiny for irregular behaviour, steps have been taken to ensure that there are no “ghost” workers being charged for and an investigation into the possibility of sweeping samples being “salted” in order to optimize kilogram payment.
The conflict of being both senior employees and suppliers is the focus of much of the audit.
Continued irregular procurement is believed to have been captured on camera.
A new acting MD has been appointed. He is Kevin Wright of Cape Town, a chartered accountant with mining experience in Canada, Central Asia and Botswana.
A new mining manager and a new engineering manager have also been appointed.
Wright is group financial director of Courtheil Holdings of Cape Town, which is owned by Daun et Cie, headed by German billionaire Claas Daun.
Daun is a 70% shareholder in ERPM.
Wright tells MiningWeeekly Online: “Three senior managers have been suspended pending further investigation”.
Wright confirms Daun’s intention to sell his 70% holding in ERPM.
Khumo Bathong is also a 3% shareholder of the publicly-listed Durban Roodepoort Deep (DRD) and a 60% shareholder in Crown, the dump-recylcing company in the DRD stable.
Daun told Mining Weekly earlier this year that he had invested some R140-million in ERPM since acquiring it out of liquidation two years ago.
ERPM’s geologist Peter Camden-Smith tells Mining Weekly Online that he stands by his belief in ERPM: ”There is still gold in the ground that can be turned to excellent account. There is nothing that can change that”.
Wright, too, is adamant that ERPM’s 5 000 employees should remain unscathed by the disciplinary hearings and investigations and is intent on bringing things back to normal at the mine as quickly as possible.