Rusoro looks at London

Andre Agapov, boss of Canada-quoted Rusoro Mining, is thinking of dangling its Venezuelan gold prospects before London investors.

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Andre Agapov, boss of Canada-quoted Rusoro Mining, is thinking of dangling its Venezuelan gold prospects before London investors.

Andre Agapov, boss of Canada-quoted Rusoro Mining, is thinking of dangling its Venezuelan gold prospects before London investors.

Rusoro, now listed at the equivalent of 22.5p on the junior Toronto Venture Exchange, claims potential resources of 17 million ounces of gold in the oil-rich South American republic’s El Callao, El Dorado and Cuyuni districts, with two million oz at 3.5 grammes of gold per tonne of ore in the proven and probable category. The company’s Choco project, sold to it by major South African mining group Goldfields in exchange for a 26.4 per cent stake, is set to show it has exceeded target production of 170,000 oz for this year at a cash cost, before capital and financing expenses, now down to $322 an ounce, against today’s market price of nearly $965.

Agapov, whose father Vladimir is chairman and major shareholder in Rusoro and on friendly terms with Venezuela’s controversial president Hugo Chavez, says the company aims to produce 500,000 oz of gold a year from Choco alone by 2012, but will need £125 million to progress its projects. He and Rusoro’s president George Salamis point out it has £34 million cash and £50 million convertible debt in place, some of it from Russian gold miner Peter Hambro Mining, and hint the company could seek access to the new Russo-Venezuelan development bank – but indicate they are also thinking of a London listing to test the UK equity market.

The entrepreneurial Andre Agapov, who says his own earlier dispute with the Thai government over the Bangkok Bank of Commerce was satisfactorily resolved, argues the Chavez regime is not as hostile to foreign mining companies as many, especially in the USA, believe. He acknowledges a long-running dispute over the future ownership of Venezuela’s Las Cristinas gold mine has done little to reassure overseas investors, but insists Rusoro has always been able to secure acceptable terms.

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