There's hardly been a day recently when Kalahari Minerals, Extract Resources and the latter's exciting Rossing South uranium find has not been in the news. Major shareholders Rio Tinto, Kalahari Minerals and Polo Resources have all requested seats on the Extract board, with Kalahari, which holds 39.6% of Extract, calling for the resignation of the latter's Managing Director, Peter McIntyre.
The major shareholders in Extract are the cause of the jockeying for boardroom positions and control as what is proving out to be a huge uranium deposit gets close to a production decision, and there may well be buying in the markets taking place as interested parties try to improve their bargaining power - probably aimed in some cases at getting Rio Tinto to pay top whack for the ultimate control.
The current shareholdings are believed to break down as follows: Kalahari Minerals owns 39.6% of Extract. As of May 18th Rio Tinto owned 14.4% of Kalahari and has a 15.3% direct interest in Extract and Polo Resources owns 9.1% of Extract, while its co-chairman Stephen Dattels owns 0.9% in his own right. Now it emerges that Hong Kong based investment group, of which Dattels is also co-chairman owns 3.57% of Kalahari and that AIM-listed Emerging Metals, of which Dattels is also co-chairman, owns 8.94% of Kalahari.
Dattels has an impressive track record in the mining sector: On the Emerging Metals website his cv records that he founded and/or financed a number of mining ventures with his most recent being UraMin Inc. which was sold in July 2007 to Areva, [for $2.5 billion] the French government-owned fully integrated uranium company.
Dattels was an executive at Barrick Gold Corporation during its formative years when it grew from a capital base of $10 million to a market capitalisation of $2 billion when he left in early 1987. During his employment with Barrick, he was a Director and Executive Vice President of Corporate Finance.
In the past decade, he has completed several financings either directly or through his merchant bank, Regent Mercantile Bancorp Inc., including, for Apollo Gold Corporation, Royal Standard Minerals Inc., Guyana Goldfields Inc., European Minerals Corporation, Defiance Mining Corporation (merged with Rio Narcea Gold Mines Ltd., which in turn was merged with Lundin Mining Corporation), Weda Bay Minerals Inc. (sold to Eramet S.A.), Apac Minerals Inc. (now Golden China Resources Corporation which was merged with Sino Gold Mining Limited), African Gold PLC (now Mwana Africa PLC), Red Dragon Resources and Regent Pacific Group Limited (Hong Kong).
The other significant holder in Kalahari is AIM-listed Niger Uranium with 15.6% - and interestingly the acting CEO for Niger is another former UraMin executive and colleague of Dattels, in Ian Stalker.
It looks like the battle for control of Extract is hotting up with Dattels on the one side and Rio Tinto on the other. One assumes Rio Tinto, with its huge Rossing uranium mine, one of the world's largest, located just to the north of the Extract finds would feel that it is the logical home for Rossing South, but Dattels, whose appetite will have been whetted by the huge $2.5 billion sale in 2007 of his UraMin company to Areva for the Trekkopje uranium project - and Rossing South looks like working out as an even better prospect than that. It is certainly higher grade and quite possibly has tonnages to match. Whether anyone would be prepared to pay in the billions of dollars for Rossing South in the current environment though remains the main question. If one can put that kind of value on it then all the players (except perhaps Rio Tinto) in the Rossing South saga look cheap!