King Mswati III of Swaziland could make US$100 million from his share in the company that this week gave him a jet plane as a gift.
Salgaocar, an Indian-based global conglomerate, was granted a licence to mine iron ore at Ngwenya in Swaziland, within a protected area inside the Malolotja Game Reserve, despite fears that its work would pollute the water supply of many rural people and also the population of Mbabane, the kingdom's capital.
But, the licence was granted and a company called Salgaocar Swaziland was formed with 50 percent owned by Swaziland, according to MetalBulletin, an industry journal.
In Swaziland, King Mswati III is an absolute monarch and he keeps all mineral royalties in trust for the nation. In practice, he chooses how the money is used and in the past this has meant he spent it on himself and his 13 wives.
Salgaocar Mozambique Chief Executive Officer Ron Herman said last year that he expected 200 million tonnes of ore to be extracted. Salgaocar Swaziland Chief Executive Officer Sivarama Prasad Petla said Swaziland would get a royalty of 50 US cent per tonne.
On this basis the King stands to get US$100 million.
He could get even more, as figures from the Swaziland Investment Promotions Authority (SIPA) state that 700 million tonnes of iron ore are below the surface of the Pigg's Peak belt in the Hhohho region.
Herman said the iron ore extracted at Ngwenya Mine contained 60 percent sulphur, which was amongst the best in the world.
Work started at Ngwenya earlier this year amid fears from locals that effluent from the mining factory would contaminate the water quality of the nearby Hawane Dam.
The IPS news agency reported the Swaziland Water Services Corporation (SWSC) draws water from Hawane Dam to supply Mbabane and the tourism hub of Ezulwini.
Today (26 April 2012), news leaked that Salgaocar had given King Mswati a McDonnell Douglas DC-9 twin-engine jet as a gift. Barnabas Dlamini, the Swazi Prime Minister, said the donor wanted to remain anonymous. He claimed to the media that the jet had been donated by 'development partners' of Swaziland.