With the Kumtor issue still in limbo, other miners are keen on positioning themselves in Kyrgyzstan in order to provide a counterweight to Centerra’s dominant place within the country’s economy. An encouraging sign that there is life after Kumtor came last week with the discovery of a new gold field by an Australian miner, formerly known as Robust but now operating under the name Tengri Resources. At the background, however, the enterprise is subject to embittered boardroom infighting as a raid on assets by a “black knight” named Stanhill, based in Hing Kong, has made increasing takeover offers. It appears, in the process, that assets located in Kyrgyzstan are unprotected against such raids, with their ownership thereby risking to become volatile and investments insecure.

photograph © 2014 Charles van der Leeuw

photograph © 2014 Charles van der Leeuw

“Tengri Resources, the mining exploration and development company focused on low-cost gold-copper projects in the Kyrgyz Republic, confirms the completion of the first three drill holes at the Bekbulaktor prospect located within the Company’s Bashkol Project. Assay results have been received for two holes, with the second hole at Bekbulaktor North (hole BKDH002) intercepting high-grade gold mineralisation of: 2.7 metre at 6.4 g/t Au from 257.3 metre including 0.85 metre at 15.3 g/t Au from 258.3 metre,” a press release from the company  dated Jully 28 reads. “The Board of Tengri is particularly encouraged by these assay results as its original strategy was to firstly drill the more prospective Bekbulaktor South prospect. However, this was not possible due to the onset of winter. The fact that high-grade gold mineralisation has been intersected at Bekbulaktor North is significant and demonstrates that Bashkol is a highly prospective project. Assay results from the first drill hole at Bekbulaktor South are pending. Tengri is exploring the Bashkol licence under a farm-in agreement in which the Company can earn up to a 70% interest in the project by spending a total of A$7 million before December 31, 2021 in two stages. The 17,986ha Bashkol Project is located 60km along strike from the 18Moz Kumtor Gold Mine in the Tien Shan Gold Belt, which hosts some of world’s largest gold deposits. The Bekbulaktor prospect is at the northern end of a 15km-long mineralised trend within the project area.”

 

But the good news is being thwarted by the question who owns the gold field under exploration. On one hand Australia’s miner Robust claims control, but given attempts by a Hong Kong firm to buy the Kyrgyz assets out through a stock raid, the future looks dim. “Sydney-based Robust Resources said a sweetened bid from Hong Kong investment firm Stanhill Capital Partners was ‘opportunistic’ and advised shareholders to take no action until further recommendation from the company,” the leading daily The Australian wrote in a news report  published on July 24.“The bid is opportunistic and made in the face of very encouraging drilling results which have been reported to the market over recent months,” the newspaper quoted Robust as telling in a statement.

 

“Stanhill Capital increased its bid for Robust Resources by 12 per cent last Friday, which now values the company at $61.5 million,” the report continued. “Stanhill has increased its bid price from 28c per share, made on July 1, to 31.5c per share and has accumulated a total 19.9 per cent stake in the miner. Robust said it would provide shareholders with a recommendation and that until then, shareholders should take no action regarding the Stanhill bid. It has hired Highbury Partnership as financial adviser and Piper Alderman as legal adviser to assess Stanhill’s proposal.Robust, with gold, silver and copper assets in Indonesia, Kyrgyz Republic and the Philippines, is in the process of a reverse takeover of Mentum Inc, a listed company in London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM). The deal was approved by Mentum shareholders last week. Under the agreement with Mentum, Robust will sell its gold and copper assets in Kyrgyz Republic to Mentum and then hold an 87.3 stake in Mentum, which will subsequently change its name to Tengri Resources and focus on Central Asia. It is believed miners with a Central Asia exposure will have better valuations on the AIM. Robust counts one of Asia’s richest men, Anthony Salim, as its biggest shareholder, who owns about 20 per cent in the company through his investment vehicle.” As for Kyrgyzstan, legal measures should be taken to put an end to its assets’ exposure to changes in ownership through business cowboy methods…

Press release by Mentum dated June 18, 2014

Mentum is pleased to announce the proposed acquisition of the Kyrgyz Republic Mining Assets of Robust Resources Limited (“Robust”)(the “Acquisition”) and the publication of an Admission Document (the “Admission Document”) convening an Annual General Meeting (“AGM”).

In July last year, Mentum outlined its strategic objectives to build a portfolio of assets in the natural resources sector. Mentum is now pleased to announce that it has conditionally agreed to acquire the mineral exploration and development operations of Robust Resources Limited in the Kyrgyz Republic (the “Target Assets”) for an aggregate consideration of £27 million (based on a deemed share price of 0.575p per Ordinary Share and 28.75p per Consolidated Ordinary Share) to be satisfied by the issue to Robust of 93,831,153 new Consolidated Ordinary Shares (which would represent, prior to the Consolidation becoming effective, 4,691,557,650 Ordinary Shares). Simultaneously with the Acquisition, the Company is proposing to undertake a 1 for 50 share consolidation to consolidate the Company’s existing ordinary shares of 0.1 penny each into new ordinary shares of 5 pence each.

The Acquisition, subject to shareholder approval, will mark Mentum’s first major asset acquisitions and the Enlarged Group will have following completion:

  •  exposure to large-scale gold and copper mining development and exploration operations in a region widely recognised for its mineral prospectivity;
  •  a portfolio of projects in different stages of development that the Company expects, subject to a revised definitive feasibility study and governmental and community approval of the project, will allow for phased development to production. The Acquisition comprises three license areas; namely: o Andash Licences – JORC compliant Measured and Indicated Resources of 682,000 ounces gold, and 170 million pounds copper; – Talas Licences – SAMREC compliant Resources of 6.7 million ounces gold and 1.6 billion pounds copper and the geological exploration potential of gold and copper licenses Korgontash, Kentash and Barkol; and – The right to farm-in to a 70% interest in the Bashkol Licence; Additionally, the Acquisition includes a fleet of mining and construction equipment;
  •  the involvement of an experienced management team led by Chief Operating Officer, Mr Bruce Lumley in Bishkek, with local operations including office premises and approximately 20 employees providing technical, financial and administrative functions in support of the mining exploration and development activities;
  •  £3.5 million cash (subject to adjustment) which, together with the Company’s existing cash resources to facilitate further development of the assets, including technical studies and working with central and local government and local communities to lift the force majeure status existing over the Andash deposit.