MetCon’s having elected to simulate the symbols of prototypical currency is especially interesting, if one considers the nature of gold itself. “There is nothing else that doesn’t erode,” Van Niekerk reminds me solemnly. “Only gold and honey – that’s about it. Moths or rust will take everything else, except gold.” And as Crosse, who has an investment and finance background, reminds us: Gold is a resilient and safe-haven investment, especially in times of social, political or economic volatility.
MetCon’s journey into cultural icons has taken them into the world of fine art. A local virtuoso, Lungisa Kala, designed the cattle exemplars for the Nguni Gold collection; and Van Niekerk herself is responsible for the cowries and for Metcon’s “spiral collection,” which comprises delicately engraved minted gold bars, their etched veneers reminiscent of the ammonites or fossil shells found along the coast of Africa.
The spiral insignia also denotes the company’s expansionary aspirations: MetCon is hoping to become a global player in its field over the next few years. Crosse and Van Niekerk recently attended The World Money Fair in Berlin, the most important bourse on the calendar for minted-gold specialists internationally. MetCon, we are told, was engaged in fruitful “discussions” throughout. Moreover, Crosse says, the company has recently allied with the International Bullion Vault (IBV), which will empower MetCon’s clientele to cash in on the company’s buy-back policy on an international basis.
MetCon is the only precious metal refinery in South Africa that will purchase their products back from you (at three percent below the prevailing gold price), provided that their packaging, which enables them to trace the chain-of-custody, is intact, so that the gold will not have to be assayed (measured and tested) again.
The gold extraction process comes at an enormous price, both fiscally and in terms of the human-cost factor, which is a reality to which both Van Niekerk and Crosse are sensitive. It disturbs them that most of the gold that is extracted in South Africa leaves it in London Good delivery bars. “It’s the worst thing that can happen to products that people are sweating, dying for, underground. And (South Africans) get the least value of all! It goes to Turkey, it goes to India, it gets beneficiated there! We want to do that here. And add the most value we can, to the hardships it takes to get gold out of the ground.”
“People underestimate what individual companies can do for a country,” Van Niekerk says. “If you look at the Scandinavian countries, and brands like Ikea and SAAB, or of Germany and its famous engineering – those companies helped to put those countries on the map.” Her dream is for MetCon to at least ensure South Africa is on the refinery map.