Brian Menell is a British/South African businessman with more than 25 years’ experience investing and developing natural resources projects in mining, diamonds trading, precious metals, energy infrastructure, agriculture, wine production and motor racing.
Brian is the Principal of the Kemet Group. He currently serves as the Chairman and CEO of TechMet Ltd, and sits on the boards of a number of TechMet’s investee companies, including Trinity Metals, US Vanadium, Brazilian Nickel and TechMet-Mercuria.
Family and Education
Born in 1965 in South Africa, Brian is part of the Menell family, which founded one of South Africa’s most successful mining and industrial conglomerates, the Anglovaal Group.
Brian was educated in the UK and later graduated in Political Science & Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, USA.
Brian currently resides in the UK with his wife and two sons.
He started his career in 1988, when he joined De Beers. During his eight years at De Beers, Brian was based in London, Antwerp, Namibia and South Africa and held executive positions in the rough diamond market management, diamond trading and mining divisions. He was part of the team that negotiated with the Namibian government for the creation of the national diamond mining company NAMDEB.
Brian later worked for Diamdel in Antwerp (De Beers’ rough diamond trading subsidiary), where he co-ordinated the company’s financial and administrative operations in Mumbai, Tel Aviv, Hong Kong and Johannesburg. He also traded rough diamonds on the markets and managed the buying of rough diamonds in Brazil, Venezuela and Angola.
Brian was later posted to South Africa as the Managing Director of Diamdel (SA), De Beers’ rough diamond trading subsidiary.
After leaving De Beers, Brian joined his family’s company, the Anglovaal Group, a diversified mining company, which was established in 1932 by his grandfather, Slip Menell.
The company was one of South Africa’s most significant conglomerates, with operations in a wide range of mining and industrial sectors across Southern Africa.
Interests were held through Anglovaal Industries Pty Ltd. (cement, construction, steel, food processing, car tyres, consumer electronics and financial services), and through Anglovaal Mining Pty Ltd. (gold, platinum, copper, cobalt, manganese, iron ore, coal, nickel and diamonds). The Group was listed in Johannesburg and London but controlled by the founding families. At its peak the Group employed some 80,000 people and had a market capital of +/- $2.5bn.
In 1999 the industrial interests were unbundled (as AVI and AVENG) with Brian and his brother Rick Menell retaining control of the mining interests (AVMIN).
As a partner in control and Executive Director of Anglovaal Mining, Brian oversaw exploration, new business development, corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions.
He managed a number of acquisitions and mergers, including the sale, purchase and development of assets in South Africa, Zambia, DRC and Namibia. Most notable was the sale to De Beers of Anglovaal’s 50% interest in the Venetia mine (South Africa’s largest diamond mine) for $600m. This remains De Beer’s biggest ever corporate acquisition.
Brian also lead the hostile bid for ISCOR (the former South African State Steel, Iron Ore and Coal company) in partnership with the parastatal investment company, IDC. This lead in 2006 to the break-up of ISCOR and to the creation of Kumba, Exxaro and Mital Iscor Steel.
In 2001 Brian and Rick sold their family’s controlling interest in Anglovaal Mining (AVMIN) through Anglo American Plc, one of the biggest mining conglomerates in the world, to create most of what is now African Rainbow Minerals Limited, South Africa’s largest listed black empowerment company.
Since the sale of Anglovaal, Brian Menell has managed or been a key participant in projects and businesses across sub-Saharan Africa. These range from building the Koidu Kimberlite Diamond Mine in Sierra Leone, development of the largest private petroleum products Tank Farm and deep water jetty in Apapa Port in Lagos (sold to Glencore in 2008), the Kisumu Ethanol Plant in Kenya, Jatropha plantations in Mozambique, development of the EOV off-shore oil field in Gabon (as First Africa Oil Plc. merged with Bowleven Plc in 2007). He is a former Chairman of Energem Resources Inc. and former Chairman of First Africa Oil Plc.
Brian built and oversaw two commercial diamond mining operations in Angola and Sierra Leone and has been a principal of various diamond trading joint ventures across Africa. Brian also served as Chairman of Star Diamond Corp., one of Canada’s biggest diamond exploration companies.
Through the Kemet Group, which Brian founded in 2010, Brian has managed a wide portfolio of private natural resource interests. These include Tin and Tungsten in the Great Lakes Region, bauxite in West Africa, oil field developments and exploration in West and Central Africa and diamond exploration in Canada, gold in East Africa and the CIS, as well as a diamond procurement advisory business. The Group has also been involved in forestry, a range of Agricultural and Agri-industry projects, and fertilizer feedstocks, as well as early stage tech, London real estate and private banking.
In 2017 Brian founded and serves as Chairman and CEO of TechMet Ltd, an investment vehicle for a portfolio of technology metal projects.
TechMet acquires and manages projects that produce, process and recycle the key strategic technology metals that go into batteries, electric vehicles and robotics – cobalt, lithium, nickel, tin, tungsten, rare earth metals, and vanadium.
TechMet is now Brian’s primary focus and he holds his interest in the company through Kemet.