Zim approves Meikles' foreign mining partner

HARARE - The Indigenisation ministry and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) have approved Guernsey-based resources firm, Centar Plc, to partner Meikles in its mining venture.

This comes as the joint venture, Meikles Centar Mining, plans to invest $100 million in chrome mining after acquiring a 75 percent stake in an undisclosed company that owns chrome claims on the mineral-rich Great Dyke.

John Moxon, Meikles chairman, said they expect to finalise agreements in the “foreseeable future” with Centar so that it “progresses as outlined to shareholders.”

Already exploration on the chrome claims had been carried out while proposals have been submitted to the Ministry of Mines related to significant chrome related project.

In July this year Moxon said a smelter would also be constructed to beneficiate both lumpy and alluvial ore, adding that the group is also set to acquire stakes in Matabeleland-based gold producers.

“MCM is currently in the process of acquiring a 51 percent shareholding in a group of gold mines in Matebeleland for a consideration of $3 million,” Moxon said.

“We await regulatory approval for the transaction to be concluded,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Meikles group recorded a $2,8 million loss in the six months to September 2014.

Revenue increased to $196 million from $190 million recorded in prior comparable period while depreciation went up by 53 percent to $4,4 million.

Occupancy and employee costs increased by 11 percent to $10 million and seven percent to $23,2 million respectively.

“These increases are due to the substantial Group expansion and renovation projects that have been undertaken in all divisions. The Group has not yet had an opportunity to benefit fully from these projects,” said Moxon.

The turnover for the quarter to September however exceeded that of the quarter to June by six percent with main drivers being TM Supermarkets that grew by eight percent, hotels by 36 percent and Mega Mart by 21 percent.

Stores declined by 38 percent, but this decline was largely expected due to rationalization undertaken by the division.

“TM Supermarkets have traded in two new supermarkets for part of this period, but have also ceased operating in one supermarket following a dispute with the owner of the premises,” he said.

Moxon noted that year on year turnover for the six months, although not strictly comparable with the previous period, did increase by 3,1 percent, with positive contributions to growth from all divisions other than Stores.

He noted that total borrowings reduced by $6,8 million while cash balances were reduced.

“The reduction in cash balances was mostly due to TM Supermarkets expenditure relating to renovations and expansion,” he said.

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