Friday 8 August 2014 4:53 am

Relief for Shaft Sinkers after £37m Kazazh drilling contract

SOUTH African mine-shaft excavators Shaft Sinkers yesterday signed a £37m contract with Kazchrome to work on their Skipovaya project in Kazakhstan. The news marks a welcome change in Shaft Sinkers’ affairs following a 60 per cent share price collapse a year after being caught up in an oligarchs’ dispute between Russian fertiliser giant EuroChem and International Mineral Resources (IMR). The company was hit hard by the five-month strike in the South African platinum sector in the first half of the year, with important contracts suspended as mining firms curtailed expenditure. Shaft Sinkers, which also has hefty legal bills stemming from a dispute with EuroChem, has said it is selling non-core assets and property and deferring nonessential expenditure. Winning the TNK Kazchrome contract to sink and line a 1.4km-deep shaft over the next four years from next month has thrown the company a lifeline. “It improves our order book value as well as our diversification strategy in terms of commodity and region, and makes us more attractive for funding,” said chief executive Alon Davidov said. Shaft Sinkers’ shares closed down 1.64 per cent at 7.50p.