BY CHIEDZA KOWO
ZIMBABWE’s sole graphite producer Lynx Mine has sought bankruptcy protection, five years after the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC)-controlled operation hit turbulence as international graphite prices plummeted.
The 56-year-old firm, formerly a joint venture between the ZMDC and Graphite Kropfmühl GmbH of Germany, at one point scoured the markets courting lenders to inject about US$5 million to fund plant upgrades and mining equipment acquisitions.
Lynx Mine’s reserves were expected to last for two decades when it was still operating.
As the crisis deepened, the Germans hived off their 50% shareholding in September 2017 to mark the end of their 50 years of graphite mining in Zimbabwe.
“Fruitful cooperation is no longer possible,” Graphite Kropfmühl’s MD at the time was quoted saying in the German media after giving up.
About 260 workers were stranded.
Last week, top corporate rescuer practitioner Cecil Madondo said he had been given the role to save Lynx from February 17.
“Notice is hereby given that with effect from 17th February 2021, Zimbabwe Graphite Mines Private Limited t/a Lynx Mine …was place under corporate rescue in terms of the Insolvency Act,” Madondo said on Friday.
“During the corporate rescue proceedings, no legal proceedings, including enforcement action against the company or in relation to any property belonging to the company, or lawfully in its possession, may be commenced or proceeded with, without the leave of the corporate rescuer practitioner or the court and in accordance with any terms the court considers suitable. If you are owed money by the company for any reason whatsoever… you are required to complete the proof of claim form and lodge them with the High Court.”
Officials at the mine, about 40 kilometres north-west of Karoi, said in 2017 that Lynx’s crisis had been triggered by falling graphite prices.
“We used to get US$600 a tonne, but right now it’s only US$340,” one official said in 2017.
Lynx Mine CEO at the time, Cris Chitambira, said the
US$5 million was meant to help the operation produce 500 tonnes of graphite per month.
“Debt is the preferred option, but equity could be considered,” Chitambira told the South Africa-based Mining Weekly in 2017.