John Teeling, chairman and a significant shareholder of African Diamonds Plc, gave Batswana a new leave to be rich as he urged them to inject more cash into the budding mining company in a bid to strengthen their shareholding position.
The maverick Irishman told investors to open their purse to help the company to increase shareholding under the new shareholding arrangement from 28 ÔÇôto- 40 percent in its mining venture with Lucara at AK 6.
“We are extremely lucky to have found diamonds in the Orapa area,” he said, adding that he is “happy to be in Botswana because there is some good news” (regarding the developments at AK 6).
“I hated coming here in the last two years because there was a lot of bad news,” he said referring to the troubled relationship African Diamonds and De Beers over their Boteti joint venture.
The troubled relationship that steamed from lack of trust between the partners ended up towards the end of 2009 when De Beers decided to sell its stake to the Canadian-based company Lucara for US $ 49 million.
Teeling told an investor briefing on Thursday at Gaborone Sun Conference Centre that he is scouting for about US $ 20 million from investors in a bid to push the long held dream of the company to come to fruition.
The first US $ 10 million is aimed at pushing African Diamonds shareholding under the Boteti joint venture ÔÇô the group that holds the AK 6 mining licence– to up its shareholding from 28 ÔÇôto- 40 percent while the remaining US $ 10 million is expected to aid it to navigate towards production.
“What we are looking for is situation where the current shareholders do not get diluted,” he said adding “while at the same time we are trying to avoid bank loans because they do not result in long term relationship”.
“With the loan ones it is paid off the relationship is over,” he stressed.
Teeling praised the company of being “lucky” for having a concession within Orapa region ÔÇô a region he terms the best diamond address in the world — said the proposed mine has the potential to produce 1 million carats at revenue levels of US $ 200 million.
AK6 is 15 kilometres south-west of Letlhakane village and it is closer to Orapa mine, the world’s biggest diamond mine, Letlhakane and Damtsha mines. The three mines which are within a radius of 20 kilometres are operated by Debswana Diamond Mining Company.
The man whose family holds 25 percent of African Diamonds ÔÇô London and Botswana Stock Exchange quoted company — said if current investors buy into his capital injection proposal “they stand a chance to be rich”.
His sentiments are being bolstered by the fact that most of the world’s known diamond mines are getting depleted while there are no major discoveries.
He said De Beers pulled out because they got into financing trouble and they did not want to develop AK 6 after spending US $ 45 million in the exploration exercise.
“They designed a beautiful Ferrari or Bogati but problem is that Bogati does not move in a desert,” he said referring to the mining designs that were favoured by De Beers.
“What we wanted was a reliable Toyota that could bring the desired results,” he said.