Commonly used expressions such as “fortune favours the brave” and “make hay before the sunset”- may sound like mere sayings, but in essence illustrate the miraculous formation of our humble, yet buoyant home-grown mining giant, Mbuyelo.
It all began not too long ago when discussion papers were published and debates held between the general public and parliament around the mining charter, which eventually led to the enactment of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act 28 of2002(-“MPRDA”).
The founder of Mbuyelo group, Mr Rirhandzu Owner Siweya, closely followed these intriguing developments and when the material opportunities were presented by the eventual implementation of the Act, he grabbed it with both hands! The first opportunistic process was when the Department of Minerals Regulation allowed the “Old Order Rights holders” to apply for the conversion of their Old Order Rights into new order rights by the 30th of April 2004.
These rights holders were individuals or entities who previously owned Mineral Rights in terms of the old Mining and Mineral Regulation Act. This process required the Old Order Rights holders to meet certain minimum requirements, such as technical and financial ability, as well as to demonstrate BEE participation. Mr Siweya along with his highly committed and intensely attentive mentor and consultant- Mr Donald Sinclair Muller went full force in search of farmers with the need to apply for the conversion of their rights. The duo proceeded across all of Mpumalanga in their expedition. Mr Donald Muller was a valuable man to Mr Siweya not just for his sincerity, but he happened to be an exceptionally successful miner in his days.
It was a major challenge convincing the farmers to understand the MPRDA and not consider it as a mere threat. Many were arrogant and insisted that they shall defend their Old Order Rights, and that any attempt by the Department of Minerals and Resources to grant their rights to a third party, will be met by the might of their physical warfare! The industry’s respect for Mr Muller as a senior citizen and leader played an amazing role, and finally the first group of farmers in the Wakkerstroom area reconciled understanding that compliance was better than trying to resist the law or going into combat.
Mr Siweya through the first subsidiary of Mbuyelo, Akisa Mining Resources (Pty) Ltd, was then given an opportunity to partner the individual farmers on the first fifteen (15) prospecting right applications. The condition here was that he provides financial and technical ability, as well as his full BEE credentials (- which he subsequently executed with distinction). Mr Siweya also decided to make non-refundable contributions towards retainers to
Post the 30 April 2004 window, all unconverted Old Order Rights reversed back to the state as per the provisions of Act 28 of the MPRDA of 2002. Given the foregoing, and encouraged by the success of the Akisa/Wakkerstroom account, Mr Siweya and his mentor proceeded to collect and analyze every one of Mpumalanga’s coal fields’ geological data from the Council for Geosciences and any other available source. Through this process, plenty coal-bearing areas were identified, and applications were submitted to the DMR on every area of interest identified. This was an obvious gamble in several instances as certain applications overlapped into the areas of interest of various established mining houses and multi-nationals. In total, between 300 and 400 prospecting rights applications were lodged with the DMR through this admittedly aggressive campaign. This was done with the full knowledge that we will in some instances overlap into the established groups’ converted areas of interest, but the game plan was to widen the net so that as we lose some, we would gain others!
The natural consequence of this process was that whilst we were able to apply into some interesting areas, we also got to apply in some unfortunate grey areas as well. We continued to be granted more rights as a result of this exercise, and the group was able to do strategic partnerships on some of our assets, with companies such as: TSX-listed Homeland Energy Group (Ltd); Australian-listed Continental Coal Ltd; Sunflag Steel of India; and on the local front, IMEC; Liketh Investments amongst others. Through our above partnerships, we were able to develop some operations, and build the necessary technical and financial muscle to enable us to apply to our remaining and unencumbered prospecting rights. This then allowed us to merge our interest of our partnerships with the assets we took up the value curve (- as well as green fields), into an exciting and attractive portfolio of operations-which would represent short, medium and long-term opportunities; proven assets with mining rights applications representing medium to long term; and green fields, which hold long term potential. We remain steadfastly confident about our prospects!