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54 www. bus- ex. com July 09 ncAasetof w players

Sekoko Resources I n 2002 the South African government changed the rules relating to mineral rights. Until then, whoever owned the surface also owned the rights to the minerals below the surface. The government reversed that decision and in effect nationalized mineral rights. No doubt it was a move that didn't go down well with entrenched interests, but it did open the door for a new generation of mining entrepreneurs; in particular, it encouraged members of the black community to get involved with the mining industry as part of its Black Economic Empowerment program. Once such person was Timothy Tebeila from the northernmost Limpopo Province, who in 2004 co- founded Sekoko Resources. Although Tebeila studied mining at university, his career took him first to teaching and then insurance. Nevertheless, Tebeila recognised that there were localities within an established mining area which hadn't been developed but which almost certainly had some potential. With the rights to prospect for coal, iron and platinum, Tebeila put together a broad- based shareholding for Sekoko, getting investments from community and disadvantaged groups to supplement his own investment. An experienced team of professionals was put together, and work began on assessing the potential of the rights they held. " The reality is that small investors will never have enough capital to develop a mine," says vice president of exploration Andy Johnson. " Our role is to prospect for minerals and then enter a joint venture agreement to extract and sell what we find." So far it looks as though the best option is going to come from coal in the Waterberg and Soutpansberg districts. In fact, most of the company's platinum prospecting rights have already been sold as a means of financing the coal exploration at Waterberg. Johnson explains: " We know about coal, whereas platinum is outside our scope of experience. What's more, there is an insatiable appetite for electricity, and the only way this July 09 www. bus- ex. com 55 After years of being on the outside of economic activity, the South African government is trying to encourage black South Africans to play a more entrepreneurial role in the development of the mining industry, as Alan Swaby learns