The Sunday Mail
AFRICAN Consolidated Resources (ACR), which is on the verge of beginning what it terms the country’s largest open cast gold operation, recently fired its chief executive officer, Mr Craig Hutton, under unclear circumstances.
The development, which was announced to the market on March 7, has naturally put the prospecting company under the spotlight as it comes hardly a year after the resignation of the chief financial officer and chief executive officer of the local unit, Ms Eve Mkondo.
Similarly, lawyer Mr Lloyd Manokore, who was the vice- chairman and a director of the local subsidiary, also parted ways with the firm on February 21. His duties were assumed by Mr Neville Nicolau, while Ms Mkondo has since been replaced by Mr Charles Maiwasha. It is believed that Mr Manokore will soon be replaced by “another Zimbabwean in view of the company’s substantial interests in that country”.
However, sources within the company say workers of the local subsidiary are growing restive as salaries were recently halved. But this is not the case with other subsidiaries outside the country’s borders.
What has become worrying, however, are the continued delays on the Pickstone Peerless gold mining project in Chegutu.
Although an initial US$10 million was sought for the initial phases for the project, ACR is now currently pursuing a funding arrangement with an African financier believed to be First Bank of Nigeria.
ACR executive chairman Mr Roy Tucker said last week circumstances for each departure are entirely different.
“The departures are not in any way connected and the circumstances of each are entirely different.
“We are very pleased, however, to have appointed, in January, Charles Maiwasha as new CFO of the whole group and who doubles as local unit CEO.
“We also anticipate we will shortly be announcing the appointment of a new acting CEO of the whole group and who will be resident in Zimbabwe. We believe these two appointments will be positive for the group’s progress going forward.
“The present management has inherited a large staff complement from the time when the company was carrying out extensive exploration work.
“Due to changes in economic conditions, which have lead in turn to major changes in investor appetite, the company has had to restrict its expenditure on exploration, and the company has now as a first priority the raising of money to mine the Pickstone Peerless gold project.
“This has necessitated putting staff on part time with the aspiration that as many as possible can be redeployed as soon as the Pickstone Peerless gold project or other projects become operational,” said Mr Tucker.
He further noted that there will not be “significant delay” to the project, while obligations tied to the country’s indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act will be complied with.
Market rumours seem to suggest that the company was reluctant to transition from prospecting to mining as this would entail roping in indigenous partners.
Mr Tucker added: “The company has spent considerable sums on detailed feasibility studies on the Pickstone Peerless gold project in order to determine its optimum modus operandi and in turn to secure funding.”