Former JPMorgan Rainmaker Back on Front Foot with Afghan Gold Venture
Former JP Morgan rainmaker Ian Hannam is pushing ahead with his gold mining project in Afghanistan, The Sunday Times reported on 14 October 2012. Following his exit from the investment bank and a charge from the Financial Services Authority, Hannam has been recruited to run Centar, the firm he established to exploit the Qara Zaghan gold mine in the war-torn country.
**Hannam Switches His Focus to Mining**
After formally leaving JP Morgan at the end of September, Hannam said he will focus on his mining interests. One of the most prominent and controversial bankers in the City, stepped down in April from his day-to-day role at the bank after he was fined by the U.K. Financial Services Authority (FSA). The regulator charged him £450,000 for allegedly disseminating insider information. Hannam has vowed to fight the charge but it will be at least a year before his case can be heard. In the meantime, he will be pushing ahead with his Afghan gold venture.
**Afghanistan – A Gigantic, Untapped Opportunity**
!m[Ian Hannam Teams up with Prominent Businessmen to Tap into Afghanistan’s Vast Mineral Resources](/uploads/story/573/thumbs/pic1_inline.png)Miners have long known that there is treasure in Afghanistan, as it lies on the Tethyan Eurasian mineral belt, which starts in Turkey and runs through Iran to Asia as far as Indonesia. To Hannam, Afghanistan represents a gigantic, untapped opportunity — one of the last great natural-resource frontiers. And although the country is also an epicentre of armed conflicts, Hannam is not worried about the dangers. A former territorial Special Air Service (SAS) officer, he has done business in many strife-torn countries. With his mining venture in Afghanistan, Hannam even hopes to mark a new direction not just for his company, but for the troubled country too.
“I’m not saying that Afghanistan is an easy place to operate, but statistically it is no more dangerous than Nigeria,” Hannam said. “What we hope to prove is that it is a place where miners can operate and others will follow. I have seen what oil and minerals can do for developing countries.”
**Top Businessmen to Back Hannam’s Mining Project**
Hannam’s mining company Centar has been set up with a cast of characters he has carefully marshalled. The former banker has brought together billionaires and prominent businessmen to back the gold venture, including Poland’s richest man Jan Kulczyk, and former chief executive of BHP Billiton Chip Goodyear. So far, they have invested $40 million (£25 million) in Centar.
Hannam has also teamed up with former SAS commander Richard Williams, who has been appointed chief executive of Centar’s mining division, Afghan Gold & Minerals. Chairman of the company is Kulczyk, while Hannam is an investor. Centar has also set up a contract driller and analytical lab, and has more than 170 staff. And while its mine at Qara Zaghan is about to go into production, Center has also teamed up with a Turkish miner to bid for a big copper concession in Afghanistan.
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