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Noventa boosted by US$895,000 VAT rebate in Mozambique

Noventa (LON:NVTA) is set to receive an VAT rebate of US$895,000, following an extensive search to find missing invoices and export certificates, which were lost by the company’s previous management. The company also had to undertake “lengthy negotiations” with the tax authorities in Mozambique.

The VAT refunds were previously considered to be uncollectible due to lack of documentation

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In reference to the successful claim, Noventa highlighted the benefit of its newly relocated operational headquarters.

"This significant breakthrough justifies many aspects of the new board's strategy, including: moving our operational headquarters from South Africa to Maputo, our emphasis on employing predominantly Portuguese-speaking management and Mozambique citizens, a focus on improved relations with the government of Mozambique and its tax authorities," Noventa chairman Eric Kohn commented.

To successfully claim the tax rebate, the company had to negotiate the reissue of 450 missing or incorrect invoices from a number of suppliers, and it had to locate 15 export certificates in three different districts. This work was performed solely by Noventa's employees.

Noventa received an initial US$131,579 payment on the 13 August, and the next payments are expected later this month and in September. The balance of the rebate is expected before the end of 2010.

Last year, under the watchful eye of Eric Kohn - who joined the company in June 2009, and subsequently became chairman in July 2009 - and his newly assembled management team, Noventa made a number of important changes.

After Kohn halted operations at the flagship Marropino tantalum mine, the company reorganised and addressed the key issues which had previously plagued Marropino’s intermittent production profile.

The new Mozambique-based management team carried out a series of fundraisings, and pushed through a number of operational improvements through the second half of 2009, and the start of 2010.

Patrick Lawless, the recently appointed chief executive, was a key addition to the new management team. Maputo-based Lawless speaks Portuguese, Mozambique’s national language, and he joined the company from a high-end engineering consultancy in February.

Under Noventa’s previous management, the Marropino mine was managed remotely from offices in South Africa. Now all the company’s senior staff are based in Maputo, and they all speak Portuguese.

Last month, Eric Kohn told Proactive Investors: “I was very lucky to find the right Mozambican management at an early stage ... you could not run the mine in Mozambique from South Africa."

Production resumed at Marropino in April 2010, through a staged ramp-up programme.

In April, Noventa said that the first two stages of production would be at “modest levels” to ensure operational effectiveness before production from the Run-Of-Mine stage with higher grade levels of tantalum material commences in Q4.

Recently, in July, the company reported that since mining recommenced at Marropino, tantalum recovery has improved significantly to just over 50%, after the management team adopted a new liberation technique. Previously, before May 2009, Noventa's Marropino mine achieved tantulum recovery rates between 30% and 35%.

Noventa plans to raise plant production at Marropino to above 500,000 pounds of tantalum pentoxide a year from 300,000 pounds and upgrade the facilities so they can handle material from the company’s Mutala and Morrua projects
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The plan is to bring Mutala into production by the end of 2012.