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Alexander Nesis

Radiochemist knows how to make money from U3O8, K2CO3 and Au
$3bn | 50 | Divorced | 2 Children | Russia | ↑

Leningrad native and trained radiochemist kickstarted his shipbuilding and industrial investment business ICT with money from uranium mining in the Uzbek desert.

Founded Polymetal in the late 1990s, sold out to Suleiman Kerimov in 2005, only to buy most of it back on the cheap during the 2008 financial crisis. Still owns 19% of the well-run and relatively more transparent gold miner.

Like his billionaire Russian buddies Kerimov, Filaret Galchev, Alexander Nesis, Zelimkhan Mutsoev and Anatoly Skurov, Nesis hit the jackpot with the blockbuster merger of Uralkali and Silvinit in 2011. Today owns 10% of the combined group which has profit margins that would make Canada’s Potashcorp blush.

Prospects: Good – Uralkali’s long-term prospects are rock-solid, stands to make dough if and when the merger with Prokhorov’s Polyus goes ahead and this month inked a deal on a $1bn rare earth project

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Henry Sapiecha

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Patrice Motsepe

Lawyer who empowered himself and workers
$3bn | 51 | Married | 3 Children | South Africa | ↑ ↓

Born in Soweto, he got his business chops working in his father “spaza” shop or general dealer selling to the township’s many mineworkers.

Became a partner at top Johannesburg law firm before moving into mining services. Built up his African Rainbow Minerals with his sister, Bridgette starting in 1994 after the fall of Apartheid by buying up marginal assets under black empowerment program that mandates 26% black ownership of mines.

Pioneered concept of profit-sharing with ordinary miner workers at ARM which has interests in platinum, nickel, chrome, iron ore, manganese, coal, copper and gold and a partnership with Harmony Gold which he chairs.

Unlike many of South Africa’s black business elite, he steers clear of politics and this year joined the pledge to give away half his fortune to charity. Owns Mamelodi Sundowns, top South Africa soccer club

Prospects: Up and down – weathered the terrible year 2012 was for mining in South Africa well and expansion further north should start paying off

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Henry Sapiecha

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Gautam Adani

Powerless to stop the slide in his fortune
$3bn | 50 | Married | 2 Children | India | ↓

Born into a merchant family, he started his path to riches as a young man sorting and trading diamonds in Mumbai after dropping out of college. Had a narrow escape in 2008 when terrorists attacked the Taj hotel in Mumbai where he was staying.

Was implicated in the illegal mining scandals in the state of Karnataka that led to a ban and appears to have fallen out of favour with Indian authorities who cut the ports business run by son Karan from state tenders.

From headquarters in Ahmedabad in Gujarat, he oversees the $7bn Adani Enterprises’s coal mines in Australia and Indonesia that feed the power generation business in India. Adani Power is struggling with debt and rising costs so he’s putting his Australian ports up for sale. Adani Mining may still IPO in London

Losing two-thirds of his wealth in two years didn’t stop him from throwing Karan and his bride Paridhi Shroff and 8,000 guests one of India’s biggest ever wedding parties (and that takes some doing) in February.

Prospects: Downhill – India’s long-term electrification ambitions are undimmed but Coalgate will hurt future deals

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Henry Sapiecha

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Vasily Anisimov

The on again off again oligarch
$3bn | 61 | Married | 4 Children | Russia | ↑

Ran supplies for a nuclear plant outside Moscow, had dealings with Marc Rich, disgraced founder of what is today Glencore, before setting up Coalco to buy stakes in mines and aluminum refineries including the second largest in the world Krasnoyarsk with purported local godfather Anatoly ‘The Bull’ Bykov.

Entirely sold out of Russian businesses and disappeared from the scene around 2000 to find solace in the Russian Orthodox faith after his daughter from a previous marriage and her husband were murdered.

In 2004 made a comeback as co-owner of Metalloinvest with Alisher Usmanov and Andrei Skoch, but sold his stake after Boris Berezovsky (since deceased) sued – ultimately unsuccessfully – for $2bn.

Keeps a low profile and unlike his fellow Russian billionaires prefers New York over London when not in Moscow. Daughter Anna is a well-known Manhattan socialite and property owner. An ex-model, she’s sometimes referred to as Russia’s Paris Hilton.

Prospects: Probably good – appears to have a handle on the wheels within wheels at the top of the Russian oligarchy

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Henry Sapiecha

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Glencore International

The Baar billionaires boys club
$2-3bn | 45-51 | Greece, Spain, US and UK | ↑

Glencore’s $10bn IPO, the biggest of 2011, minted four employee billionaires and also made billions for early US investor William Macaulay and Kazakhstan’s Bulat Utemuratov whose sale of zinc and gold mining co’s to the Swiss firm wrapped up October last year.

Spaniard Daniel Mate ($2.7bn) joined the Swiss-based trading and commodities behemoth in 1988 when controversial founder and fugitive pardoned by US president Bill Clinton before leaving office, Marc Rich, was still at the helm. Mate and Greek citizen Aristotelis Mistakidis ($2.7 billion) worked their way up from the commodity giant’s zinc, copper and lead trading department.

Oxford-grad biochemist Alex Beard ($2.1bn) heads up oil and American Tor Peterson ($2.3bn), a political science and French graduate from Duke University and only single man on the list replaced CEO Ivan Glasenberg at the top of the coal division in 2002.

Prospects: Good – the tie-up with Xstrata cleared the final hurdle in April and deal-hungry Glasenberg probably won’t stop raking in new assets

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Henry Sapiecha

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Chen Fashu

Fashu’s is a foundation after a fashion
$2-3bn | 52 | 4 Children | China | ↑ ↓

Chairman of the New Huadu Group, Chen runs some of China’s largest retail centres, the Tsingtao brewery and is locked in a court and boardroom battle to acquire a stake in state-owned Yunnan Baiyao Group, one of the country’s biggest pharmaceutical companies.

If the potentially highly lucrative pharma deal goes through, Chen may make good on his pledge to sell out of Zijin Mining Group, China’s number one gold and second largest copper miner, and donate the proceeds to his charitable foundation which was found to be little more than a shell.

Fujian-based Zijin picked up 90% of Australia’s Norton Gold Fields last year and is forging ahead with more buys outside China despite the gold price decline. Zijin shares in Hong Kong are down 26% in a year, but the company’s aggressive growth strategy remains on track and its domestic mines have some of the best margins in the world.

Prospects: Fair – his sale of a chunk of Tsingtao may indicate bigger problems in the group, but Zijin’s longer-term prospects remain bright

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Henry Sapiecha

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37…Base Metals

Vladimir Kim

Pledging shares after pledging to step aside
$2-3bn | 52 | Married | 3 Children | Kazakhstan | ↓

Of Korean descent he graduated from Almaty’s Architectural Institute in 1982 and became involved with Kazakhmys (then called ZhezkazganTsvetMet) during the 1990s when the Soviet era coal miner and power company was in complete disarray.

Made headlines in October 2010 when in one go, he sold $1.3 billion worth of stock to Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund.

Will be stepping down as chairman of Kazakhmys which he listed in London in 2005, later this year, but is holding onto his 28% stake.

Kazakhmys shares have been decimated over the last year after a writedown of $2bn in the value of its 26% stake in fellow Kazahk miner ENRC.

Prospects: Not good – speculation is rife about reasons Kim is pledging more and more of his shares as loan collateral and the ENRC contagion is spreading

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Henry Sapiecha

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38…Base Metals

Eurasian Natural Resources

Unlikely threesome brought together by mining moollah
$2-3bn | 59-60 | Kazakhstan, Israel, Belgium | ↑

Responsible for bringing Kazakhstan’s vast copper resources out from under the Soviets to the world, more specifically the FTSE.

Patok Chodiev built Eurasian Natural Resources with longtime pals Alexander Machkevich (pictured) and Alijan Ibragimov into a diversified miner which at its peak was worth more than $20 billion, but is now being abandoned by shareholders and its board.

Tends to get Involved in mining’s frontier markets including buying First Quantum Minerals’ assets in the DRC for a fraction of its value after what has been described as a strip and flip transaction facilitated by Israeli middleman Dan Gertler. After a court battle ENRC had to compensate the Canadian firm $1.25bn (still a bargain for ENRC) and in December 2012 bought the remainder of Gertler’s Camrose Resources for $550m.

While Chodiev runs his empire from Almaty, Kazakhstan, he was born in Uzbekistan, spent a lot of time in Japan and is a Belgian citizen. Ibragimov is a native of Kyrgyzstan and a devout Muslim with 6 sons. Machkevich is an Israeli citizen and a tireless promoter of the Jewish state and causes.

Prospects: Fair – corporate governance issues should see ENRC taken private again by the three founders, where deals can be done with less scrutiny

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Henry Sapiecha

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39…Base Metals

Dan Gertler

Frontier financier with unorthodox business style
$2bn | 39 | Israel | Married | 9 Children | ↑

Learnt the trade from grandfather Moshe Schnitzer, Israeli diamond exchange founder. Arrived in the Congo in 1997 shortly after the coup through links with Chabad orthodox community.

Became close to DRC president Joseph Kabila and the late Augustin Katumba to bag mining projects using what his detractors call strip and flip tactics which once prompted the IMF to stop DRC’s aid over lack of transparency.

Biggest clients are Glencore and London-listed ENRC, which picked up Kolwezi, a flagship copper complex Gertler wrestled from Canada’s First Quantum. ENRC is now buying out one of Gertler’s many tax-haven based front companies Camrose for $550m.

Owns 63% stake in Africo Resources listed in Toronto, partners with state-owned Gecamines in various copper-cobalt, gold and iron projects and has a monopoly on the DRC diamond trade. Has also teamed up with South African presidential hopeful Tokyo Sexwale and New York hedge fund Och-Ziff.

Kabila has on occasion dispatched him as special peace envoy and Gertler answers his critics by saying he’s attracted $7bn worth of much-needed investment to the war-torn country and deserves the Nobel Prize.

Prospects: Fair – able to shrug off greater scrutiny of his businesses despite new conflict minerals rules and African copper has many good years ahead of it

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Henry Sapiecha

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Viktor Nusenkis

Found religion and coking coal billions
$2bn | 59 | Married | 2 Children | Ukraine | ↑ ↓

Flouting Moscow’s rules, he quickly became Ukraine’s number one private coal trader before the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Worked under the protection of Ukraine’s attorney general Gennady Vasilyev before founding Energo Concern (Donetskstal) in 1993. Vasilyev is suing Nusenkis for half of Energo in a Cyprus court after local tribunals brought him no luck.

Empire includes thermal and coking coal mines and metallurgical plants in Ukraine, Russia, Czech Republic and Germany and he has moved into agriculture through a Latvian firm.

Nowadays sporting a bushy beard, he is a generous patron of the Russian orthodox church in Russia and Ukraine. All group offices sport temples or prayer rooms. Shares a Zosima elder as spiritual adviser with Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovych.

Prospects: May need a miracle – Energo’s ageing plants suffer from years of underinvestment and favourable state loans to the group may be drying up

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Henry Sapiecha

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