Management woes unfold at Karibib Lithium project
The management of the Karibib Lithium project, Lepidico and !Huni-/Urib are at crossroads over the appointment of directors on the Board of Lepidico Chemicals Namibia (LCN).
The Karibib Lithium project is held under Australian-based exploration company, Lepidico (80% public listing) and !Huni (20% privately owned by five shareholders). The original 80% partner was Desert Lion Energy Namibia and after a successful takeover, Lepidico acquired the 80% in the Karibib Lithium Project. Desert Lion was renamed to LCN.
In statement dated 8 June, !Huni Executive Director, Mark Welthagen said Lepidico, through LCN, is denying !Huni Urib, a second duly appointed shareholder representative on the board of LCN in terms of their share price agreement which saw the establishment of the Karibib Lithium project.
Speaking to Namibia Economist, Thomas Mushimba, Director of !Huni and Board Member, said LCN and Lepidico are purposefully stalling on answering numerous requests for information regarding the project as requested by !Huni.
According to Mushimba, a second !Huni director has been nominated but, LCN hasn’t made the appointment since middle last year when it was bought to their attention.
“This was done via official letters addressed to Joe Walsh (managing director, Lepidico),” Mushimba said.
Meanwhile, Shontel Norgate, Chief Financial Officer at Lepidico said there are currently two !Huni representatives on the LCN Board as per the share price agreement. The two directors are being Uwe Heinz Bachmann and Mushimba.
“We have not received a letter of resignation from Mr Bachmann and therefore there is no vacancy on the Board. Mr Welthagen and Mr Nell have been advised of the legal protocol to be followed if Huni wishes to change a director,” Norgate said.
The protocol includes a letter of resignation and the call for a shareholder meeting.
Norgate added that Lepidico is well aware of the “significant internal fighting” amongst the !Huni shareholders with Welthagen and Gert Nell (the South African-based shareholders) in direct conflict with the three Namibian based shareholders.
“Lepidico has a good dialogue and working relationship with the three Namibian based shareholders, including the two !Huni shareholder representative directors. Despite the attempted distractions from Mr Welthagen and Mr Nell, Lepidico, through its 80% owned subsidiary, LCN remains focused on delivering a mutually beneficial project for both Lepidico shareholders and all of the !Huni shareholders,” Norgate said.
In the statement by Welthagen, claimed Lipidico published a prospectus containing material misstatements and material non-disclosures on 20 May 2021.
Norgate, however said Lepidico has complied with all of the disclosure requirements imposed by the Australian Corporations Act and the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) Listing Rules in relation to its prospectus.
“Further, to the extent required, relevant disclosures regarding Huni and the SPA have been made in both the Lepidico Chemicals Namibia financial statements and the Lepidico Ltd financial statements – these have been audited both in Namibia and in Australia and our respective auditors remain satisfied that all material disclosures have been made,” she said.
According to Norgate, Welthagen and Nell previously raised this issue with ASX in January 2021, after which the ASX investigated and provided them with a written response advising that ASX was satisfied with the company’s disclosures and no further action would be required.
“It is disappointing that Mr Welthagen and Mr Nell continue to make these unfounded claims,” Norgate said.
Meanwhile, Lepidico is looking at the redevelopment of two mines within its 80%-owned Karibib project (Rubicon and Helikon 1) and the design of a new flotation plant to produce a lepidolite concentrate for export to a chemical conversion facility it wants to build in Abu Dhabi.