Mine Restoration Investments lists on AltX, will treat acid mine drainage from old mines around Johannesburg and manufacture briquettes from discarded coal
BY ALLAN SECCOMBE
MINE Restoration Investments (MRI)‚ which debuted on the JSE AltX yesterday, is prepared to launch its bid to treat acid mine drainage (AMD) coming from gold mining operations in and around Johannesburg.
MRI is one of only a few companies listed in SA offering solutions for AMD and other mining-related environment issues. It is building a plant to process coal fines, a waste product from coal mining, and turning it into briquettes.
The coal fines, which are almost dust, are usually discarded on dumps and over time can lead to water pollution and AMD.
MRI started trading on AltX with a market capitalisation of R109m at an opening price of 24c a share. It closed at 19c.
The reason for the listing was to make MRI a wholly-owned South African company, which could then compete in a forthcoming tender from the Department of Water Affairs for companies to provide a long-term solution to the AMD problem that is becoming worse at defunct gold mines around Johannesburg, said MRI CEO Jaco Schoeman.
MRI reverse-listed into Capricorn Investment Holdings, a cash shell. It bought Western Utilities Corporation (WUC) from AIM-traded Watermark for shares and cash. WUC has spent years working on an AMD treatment process to make potable and industrial-grade water.
"One of the big criticisms was that WUC was foreign owned and there were concerns from the government that any profits it earned would be repatriated overseas. We are now a 100% South African company," Mr Schoeman said.
The tender will be launched in about a year once the department has completed a feasibility study. MRI, which incorporates the assets and intellectual property of WUC, has spent R75m over six years testing its AMD treatment processes and having its cost structure independently verified, he said.
The entire programme to treat AMD from the three basins making up the Wits gold fields is worth R1,88bn and includes setting up the processing plant, storage, pumping, collection and distribution. Competing bids generally just price the plant, making for unfair comparisons, he said.
MRI will need to look at a capital raising if it secures the tender. It has a head start on competing companies, having secured infrastructure from DRDGold , he said.
MRI raised R40m on the listing and will spend half of this on the coal project at Keaton Energy’s Vaalkraantz anthracite mine in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The project to produce 5000 tons of briquetted anthracite a month will be commissioned at the end of this year and be in full production by the end of March next year. The project may be small, but will give clients an example of what MRI can do, Mr Schoeman said. - Businessday