Mark Creasy, the British-born prospector who made his name cutting deals on gold mines in Australia, is to bring a South African venture to the London Stock Exchange.
White Rivers Exploration, in which Mr Creasy holds a 64pc stake, is to list on the LSE in early 2017, as it pushes ahead with a joint venture in South Africa’s Witwatersrand gold province.
Company directors are visiting London this week to sound investors out about the size of the float, which may consist of White Rivers itself or the joint venture. White Rivers currently has just seven shareholders, some of whom may sell down their entire stake.
“We’ve been hearing London is open for business for gold projects,” said Neil Warburton, executive chairman. “Gold is a very good commodity to be in, and London is the place to list. It’s in the same time zone as South Africa, and investors here understand the risk profile of these sorts of projects.”
Mark Creasy made his name with gold prospecting deals in Australia
White Rivers, which will also seek a listing in Johannesburg, claims to have the “largest privately owned unmined gold resource in the world”.
Its holds a 65pc stake in a joint venture in Witwatersrand with Harmony Gold, the third largest gold miner in South Africa. White Rivers plans to use Harmony’s existing shafts to tap a new zone holding a resource of 11m ounces of gold.
By using Harmony’s infrastructure, White Rivers “has not had to drill a single hole”, Mr Warburton said, and it will be able to enter production sooner than might be expected. The £150m project has a forecast start date of late 2018.
“We hope investors will be knocking our door down,” Mr Warburton said. “A lot of people are buying into funds that track gold, or buying physical gold. [With us] they’re not just buying the physical gold, they’ll have the capital appreciation of the shares as well.”
Mr Creasy jumped nearly 50 places to 363 on The Sunday Times Rich List this year after landing an estimated £200m windfall from the merger of his mining company Sirius Resources with Independence Group in 2015. The Suffolk-born prospector and mining engineer, who is worth at least £293m, made his name in the mid-1990s with a A$130m gold deal in Australia.
In 2012, Sirius struck paydirt with the discovery of a world-class nickel-copper deposit in the Fraser mountain range of Western Australia. Mr Creasy’s interest in the region dates back to 1979, when he hunted for – and found – parts of the Skylab space station that had fallen to earth.
Mr Creasy formed White Rivers in 2007 when he snapped up land in South Africa that became available following a change in the country’s Mining Act.
White Rivers’ joint venture will turn out 250-300,000 ounces of gold a year once it is up and running, and will have a 30-year mine life. The company plans to complete a final feasibility study in late 2017.
Mr Warburton said White Rivers wanted to apply Australian mining methods to its South African project, and has sought permission from the Department of Mineral Resources to run a continuous roster and longer shifts that would boost the mine’s productivity. “All of these are things we do in Australia,” he said.
Gold is up 27pc in the year to date, boosted by uncertainty in financial markets and traders revising down the likelihood of the US Federal Reserve hiking interest rates this year. The precious metal tends to do well when interest rates are low.