Stuart Bradley (Brad) Sampson, once employed by Gold Fields in South Africa and Australia, has been appointed CEO of potash development company Kore Potash, taking over from outgoing CEO Sean Bennett, effective from June 4.
Sampson was most recently CEO of ASX-listed Tiger Resources and held senior positions at gold mining company Newcrest Mining.
“I am pleased to announce the appointment of Sampson as CEO. His appointment reflects the next chapter for Kore Potash as we approach the financing and project construction stages [at the large Kola potash project, in the Republic of Congo ],” Kore Potash chairperson David Hathorn, former CEO of Mondi, said in a statement on Wednesday.
With more than 20 years experience as a mining engineer Sampson has worked in both opencast and underground mine operations and developments in Australia, Southern Africa, and the Pacific.
He performed a GM role for Gold Fields Limited at St Ives gold mine in Western Australia and Mining Weekly Online recalls encountering him underground many years ago at Gold Fields' Kloof mine on South Africa's Far West Rand.
AS reported by Mining Weekly Online last month, South Africa is likely to play a significant role in the development and construction of the large new potash mine and processing plant that is being planned in the Republic of Congo at an expected capital cost of $2-billion.
Potentially one of the lowest operational cost potash projects in the world, Kola has advantages of being close to the coast, high in grade, shallow and directly opposite the export destination of Brazil.
Its 35% potassium chloride (KCL) grade compares with the below 30% KCL grades elsewhere, with its purity allowing for brine to be discharged into the sea.
Kore, which plans to produce potash at the relatively low cost of $100/t, has big cornerstone investors in the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Oman and Chilean potash company Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM), which exports to 130 countries.
Now properly capitalised, and listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, in addition to the Australian Securities Exchange and London’s Alternate Investment Market, the business of Kore Potash is reportedly looking up.
Steps are being taken to bring the project to construction as quickly as possible.
During 2017, Gavin Chamberlain, who has huge experience in mining construction across Africa, came on board to join Bennett, coinciding with a strengthening of prices on a shortage of supply and good demand dynamics.
The Export Credit Insurance Corporation (ECIC) of South Africa funding is viewed as being quite important to Kore and the project may yet see a South African company being subcontracted to the French or working directly for Kore.
As reportedly by Mining Weekly Online, here has been considerable interest from South Africa for materials handing supply. Typically, the French companies involved have done a lot of oil and gas work, but not conveyor-type work. Local South African companies are interested in the overland conveyor and also in the conveyor packages within the plant.
Potentially, steel supply out of South Africa could still be competitive and, if it is, it will be encouraged.
The Kore team is South Africa-based and the JSE listing has strengthened the South African involvement, as has the discussion with the ECIC and with local developmental finance institutions and procurement companies.
Currently, the life-of-mine is more than 20 years, but once more drilling is done, that could increase significantly. The amount of resource in Kola, the main project, compared with the total resource, is only a small fraction.
The project will be employing something approaching 4 000 people for the build and 1 000 going forward, and many spin-off community benefits are envisaged.
The foundation of the debt will be export credit agency debt, that is, government-backed debt to fund procurement, which is why Kore has been speaking to the French government in relation to French procurement, the South African government about South African and African procurement and also to the UK government and other governments. French procurement is expected to be $500-million to $700-million and major equity of $600-million to $700-million will be needed early next year.
“There’s a big cheque that’s coming but this is a massive project and it’s a very profitable project,” Bennett told Mining Weekly Online in an earlier interview.
Cornerstone investor SQM can also offer the company helpful processing expertise. July 1, 2019 is the DFS date for the day of the first spade in the ground and July 2023 the month when commercial potash will be processed through the plant. As part of the mine footprint development, a stockpile will be created and used for commissioning purposes. Overall, the build-up of the mine is probably going to be around 18 months in total, from the start of production to steady state.
Board membership is expected to be expanded in the next few months.