Positioned and poised to become one of Sub-Sahara’s foremost forestry groups with unparalleled trading, distribution and processing capacity
Argento has secured sustainable forestry leases of 50 years on 312,465 hectares in Northern Mozambique, which makes Argento one of the largest forestry operators in Mozambique and Sub-Saharan Africa.
The company is now moving from asset building to the monetization of these high density, hardwood species of natural forests at a time when supply in waning, with a welcome stamp-out of illegal logging. The forestry concessions assets have been independently valued at $308m (Honour Capital Report 2014).
Argento started Mozambique operations in 2011, producing timber for local markets, predominantly sleepers for major railway projects, with no outlet to international markets. Since then and looking ahead, the operation has been transformed and is set to make a major impact in the local and global markets.
An export partnership was signed in March 2016 with Basic Material Limited, Hong Kong, to open up international markets. International demand already significantly outstrips our capacity, but investment in infrastructure, including the now advanced construction of a leading-edge sawmill close in Nampula, close to Nacala port, will dramatically increase this capacity going forward.
Nampula Sawmill Team
Sawmill foundations July 2017
Non-dilutive finance was raised against a small percentage of forestry income stream, enabling the group to kick-start production and remain debt free.
The first exports started August 2016 destined for Germany, Thailand, Vietnam, South Africa, Denmark and Mauritius. With significant upgrades at Nacala port, we can ship over 100 containers of timber per week and further port infrastructure expansion through to 2020 is planned.
Capex raised since Feb 2016 has created a timber platform with a production capacity of around 400 cubic meters per month and when fully operational annual production of sawn timber is expected to be 2,000m3 per month (60 percent of the annual permitted cut)
The latest development for Argento is the acquisition of WoodBois International ApS, a fully-operational timber trading, production and forestry company with a global reach. Together they offer an unrivalled forestry platform, aligned in their ethos of sustainable methods, and provide Obtala with an immediate income stream through WoodBois as Argento’s own production becomes operational.
Timber Processing and Distribution
From plantation to worldwide delivery of tailored, high-specification timber products, Obtala – through Argento and WoodBois – is set to operate across the value-chain in this increasingly high-margin and buoyant market.
A new operating team and COO have been installed, with processing capacity increased through new re-saws and bell loggers and access to an extended distribution network.
Purchase of land and construction started on new 100m3 capacity per day sawmill in Nampula to be completed in 2018.
The acquisition of global timber trader WoodBois with 96,851 hectares of forestry concessions in Gabon, will ensure that Obtala is immediately operational with capacity of scale and scope.
WBI, Gabon, will see increases in production following the installation of three new horizontal saws in June and purchase of two new bulldozers and the completion of its veneer factory.
Going forward we will see cost-savings and logistics improved by the installation of drying-kilns, while significant veneer production is expected at the new facility.
Forest Management Team.
CFO. Based in South Africa, Carnel is a chartered accountant and certified fraud examiner, dually qualified in the UK and South Africa. She is an elected board member and director of the largest South African pomegranate farm company, Pomona, since 2008.
Carnel honed her expertise in all key areas of accountancy and audit during a 15-year career at BDO, the global audit, tax and advisory group, culminating as director, forensic services, of BDO London and partner of BDO Cape Town. She brings invaluable knowledge of the international as well as the African markets, with the highest financial qualifications combined with experience of day-to-day management of an African agricultural company.
Co-head, Timber Trading Division. Zahid, a Danish citizen, has more than 20 years’ experience in the timber business, formerly working for DLH Group in roles spanning procurement in Africa, sourcing Brazilian hardwood for French manufacturers and implementing and reinforcing the Group’s environmental policy, based in Copenhagen.
Head of Production. Prior to the acquisition by Obtala, Hadi managed WoodBois’ forestry production division in Gabon since its establishment in 2016. Hadi has 25 years’ experience managing forestry operations in Gabon, including as an owner of his own forestry business. Prior to his work in forestry, Hadi has served as a diplomat, travelling extensively across Africa, as well as owning various trading and real estate companies. Hadi is fluent in French and Portuguese and holds Gabonese citizenship.
Co-head, Timber Trading Division. Jacob, a Danish citizen, has been in the timber business for more than 30 years. Before joining WBI in 2005, he worked for DLH Group, where he held various international sales and procurement roles based in France, the Middle East and Africa (Gabon, Cameroon) selling lumber produced in West Africa. Earlier in his career Jacob operated a sawmill in Sweden, Canada, and the UK and has also worked in hardwood procurement in the Philippines.
Advisor. Patrick has extensive forestry experience, across Africa and the Baltic states, from grassroots to the conclusion of projects. Patrick has valuable marketing experience, from working for Scandinavian Design APS, one of the world’s biggest wooden garden furniture producers. Patrick is British and has a military background.
Production Manager. Miguel is one of the most knowledgeable foresters in Mozambique, specialising in the harvesting and processing of tropical hardwoods. He has been part of Argento since its inception in Mozambique 5 years ago. Miguel has excellent working relationships with local officials and communities.
Muir was appointed COO of Argento in March 2017. A South African national and highly-qualified FSC auditor he brings 25 years’ experience in forestry production and management to Argento. Based in Mozambique, he will oversee the planning and execution of production, while managing the supply chain from the concessions to the port via the sawmill.
Logging Manager. Jorge has over 30 years’ experience in Mozambique working with tropical hardwoods. He previously worked for Madell Timber for 18 years as Production Manager and has experience leading a forestry project in Angola. Jorge joined Argento three years ago and has built an experienced logging team and training program. He is very popular with the local communities.
Head of Health, Safety Security and Environment. Based in Mozambique, Ben is an ex-Royal Marines Commando and previously filled similar roles for major oil conglomerates in Asia. He is tasked with securing supply lines, introducing processes and procedures, defining roles and responsibilities, and ensuring compliance with local regulations.
Logistics Manager. Claus has 41 years’ experience in shipping and logistics, 38 of which were Africa based, in positions from Operations Manager to Country Manager. Claus has worked several times in Mozambique since 1987. Claus has an exceptional knowledge of all Mozambique ports and landside operations (rail and road), including deep relationships with Nacala port officials.
A Malaysian national, Brian was educated in the USA and is a qualified mechanical engineer. He has extensive experience in forestry, agriculture and transport logistics from his long-term careers as General Manager of Hap Seng Consolidated Berhad in Kuala Lumpur and earlier for the Tekala Corporation.
Preference investor director. Tom Holroyd has over 27 years’ experience in real estate investment and development. He set up the Cherwell Group of companies and they now have combined assets of over 130 million pounds. His experience ranges from dealing with legal issues, real estate banking, difficult development site assembly through to complex planning and physical building.