By Andy Clay: senior manager at Venmyn Deloitte.
The passing of Roger Kebble could not happen without a comment from me as I knew him as part of the history and development of my career and Venmyn.
I first met Roger the mid to late 1990s when he had left Anglo to set up his own business. The mining industry of South Africa was restructuring with the break-up of the mighty mining houses. I had worked for the one mining house that was destined to spawn the “mid-tier” entrepreneurial businesses which started in early 1990 and escalated through to late 2010.
The process was led by gold because of the huge arbitrage between the global juniors reporting “million ounce” projects whilst South Africa had “10 million ounce” projects and bigger but mostly at depth! That is a story all on its own.
Whenever I met Roger, which was not often, he was respectful and very interested in geology and mineral resource management and grade control. I think the first independent public reports we did where he was involved were on Rand Leases and West Rand Cons and then on numerous others over the years.
Ultimately, we were instrumental in the listing of the successful Randgold on the London market and the transactions around Letšeng diamond mine but side-lined for Project Eagle (read Barry Sergeant’s book for details). This was fortunate because unbeknownst to me what was going on behind the scenes was something we were not and must not have been involved with.
Roger was the third person I met on Monday 1st September 1997 when Venmyn opened its doors as a new “independent” company having departed from Rand Merchant Bank. That was the day after Princess Diana had died and, oh, it was a black week.
Roger gave us our third piece of work that day and by lunch time our order book was full. I always felt Roger had a soft spot for me and I for him. He was an imposing figure and, in my opinion, represented one of that era’s breed of true “mining men”.
I saw him in Cape Town two years ago as Peter Major and I were finishing lunch at the V&A Waterfront. When we went over to him he gave us a warm handshake and for a moment I saw the old mining sparkle in his eye as we briefly remembered some old times.
Whatever you may hear over the course of the next few weeks, remember that he was one of many key people that helped to create the past history of South Africa’s mining industry.
Whether for good or bad an era has passed. I am sure I will not be the only commentator but, for the positive influence on our business, I am very grateful and I salute a man who, in my experience, always had others’ interests at heart.
Top Industry Insight Stories: