ASA loses $4.3m, fires top man­agers

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Feature/national News - Ti­nashe Ma­kichi

ASA Re­sources Plc, a prod­uct of a hos­tile take-over by Chi­nese in­vestor, China In­ter­na­tional Min­ing Group Cor­po­ra­tion from for­mer Mwana Africa share­hold­ers, is im­mersed in fresh con­tro­versy af­ter its top man­agers are al­leged to have de­signed an ob­scure web to ship out raw ore to China and also il­le­gally move $4,3 mil­lion out of Zim­babwe.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Yat Hoi Ning and fi­nan­cial di­rec­tor Yim Kwan, who have been iden­ti­fied as the chief cul­prits in the scam, have since been re­lieved of their du­ties as in­ves­ti­ga­tions con­tinue.

The group, which owns Freda Re­becca gold mine and Bin­dura Nickel Cor­po­ra­tion, says that the money is still not ac­counted for.

“The board is sat­is­fied that it has es­tab­lished that the to­tal amount of Asa Re­source funds that are un­ac­counted for is $4,3 mil­lion. Of this amount $2,7 mil­lion re­lates to the year ended March 31 2016 and $1,6 mil­lion re­lates to the year ended March 31 2017.

“The sum of $1,6 mil­lion in 2017 has been traced to two group com­pa­nies ad­min­is­tered from Hong Kong but the board has yet to con­firm whether any part of this sum re­mains within the two com­pa­nies. The board has not re­lied on these amounts and any re­cov­er­ies will im­prove the ex­pected cash po­si­tion,” the com­pany said in a state­ment.

ASA, how­ever, said that the funds that are un­ac­counted for have had no ma­te­rial im­pact on their lo­cal op­er­a­tions.

“So far as its two prin­ci­pal min­ing op­er­a­tions are con­cerned, Freda Re­becca Gold Mine and Bin­dura Nickel Cor­po­ra­tion, con­tin­u­ing cash flows from op­er­a­tions at each mine are ex­pected to be ad­e­quate for the nor­mal work­ing capital re­quire­ments of these mines. Both FRGM and BNC have their own bank­ing fa­cil­i­ties that are be­ing utilised in the nor­mal way.

“At group level there are a num­ber of out­stand­ing cred­i­tors, mainly re­lat­ing to legacy lit­i­ga­tion and un­paid direc­tors fees and salaries. These amounts are ex­pected to be paid in due course from man­age­ment fees payable by BNC and FRGM to the com­pany” the group said.

The lat­est de­vel­op­ment is part of a string of con­tro­ver­sies that have been as­so­ci­ated with the group. The com­pany was re­cently in­volved in a wran­gle with em­ploy­ees at its gold pro­duc­ing unit Freda Re­becca over man­age­ment is­sues af­ter the group ra­tio­nalised and re­struc­tured staff salaries across the group.

There are also al­le­ga­tions of as­set strip­ping, dis­con­tin­u­a­tion of de­vel­op­ment projects and al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion that have been raised against the group.

It is al­leged that when the group change hands in 2015 de­vel­op­ment projects that were op­er­a­tional such as con­cen­tra­tor op­er­a­tions at Bin­dura Nickel Cor­po­ra­tion, gold pro­cess­ing at Freda Re­becca gold mine were ei­ther put on hold or dis­con­tin­ued al­to­gether. New projects that were at plan­ning stage such as the smelter and min­ing op­er­a­tions at Tro­jan Mine also suf­fered the same fate.

In­for­ma­tion gath­ered by the Harare Bureau shows that the Chi­nese ex­ec­u­tives were plan­ning to stop con­cen­tra­tor op­er­a­tions at Bin­dura Nickel Cor­po­ra­tion to cre­ate a plat­form for ex­port­ing raw nickel ore to China.

The smelter restart at BNC was also re­ported to be un­der threat as man­age­ment was said to be less in­ter­ested in re­source de­vel­op­ment choos­ing to fo­cus on min­ing the com­pany’s rich de­posits to re­coup their $20 mil­lion in­vest­ment.

Fur­ther­more, in­ves­ti­ga­tions re­vealed gross mis­man­age­ment at Freda Re­becca gold mine which has re­sulted in the col­lapse of its main gold pro­cess­ing plant Mill I.

This has af­fected Mashona­land Cen­tral Con­trac­tors Board, a group of con­trac­tors sup­ply­ing ser­vices to ASA, which has been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing de­lays in pay­ments, among other is­sues.

“Lo­cally Freda Re­becca Gold Mine and Bin­dura Nickel Cor­po­ra­tion are un­der siege. They are now ship­ping raw ore to China af­ter stop­ping the con­cen­tra­tor at BNC. The work on the smelter has been stopped,” the MCCB said.

There are fears that the Gov­ern­ment could also have been prej­u­diced of mil­lions as the com­pany stopped value ad­di­tion in favour of ex­port­ing raw ore.

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