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Trade Winds bimonthly update volume 47

NUMSA strike over, industry feeing effects, the national steel strike in South Africa, which started on the 5th of October came to an end last week Friday.

NUMSA and SEIFSA came to an agreement of 6% as opposed to the 8% NUMSA was fighting for.

Whilst the strike is over the industry is feeling the effects as backlogs are clearing up, lead times are being pushed out as manufacturers and merchants a like cannot keep up with current demand.

There are also steel price increases on the horizon with one major mill already announcing a R1,200.00/Ton price increase across the board and the possibility of ArcelorMittal increasing their prices is almost a given.

Loadshedding, another blow to the sector has shown its face this past week and it seems its here to stay. South Africa has fallen over a load shedding tipping point as and it’s noted that Eskom is the worst it’s ever been and is getting worse.

Stage 2 loadshedding was announced out of the blue last weekend for this week, however as of noon on Wednesday, stage 4 has kicked in. Businesses that have just managed to get over the pandemic’s destruction, followed by NUMSA’s interference now face the challenges of loadshedding once again.

The price of petrol is also skyrocketing next month with the country expected to pay R20/Litre by December. These are all devastating blows to the industry and downstream players.

ArcelorMittal, Africa’s biggest steel mill has just sent out notice of strike action starting next week 3 November 2021, with the knock-on effects from this strike possibly being catastrophic, we will update our clients as and when we receive any information.

Border updates, relief at Beitbridge as for the first time in more than two months, truckers stuck at the continent’s worst crossing can speed up in the queue as efforts to decongest the crossing take effect.

Serious interventions have taken place to address the cause of the bottleneck, transporters sending drivers to the border without paperwork that’s in order, to name just one of the reasons.

The following procedures have also been enforced:

Zimra will deploy officers at the south gate and on the N1 outside Gateway Truckpark to check if trucks are fully precleared on the Zimbabwean side.

If not fully cleared they will not be allowed to proceed to port, and will be directed to truck parks on a first in-first first-out principle, once they are clearing-compliant.

If a truck is fully precleared, it will be given identifying marks to proceed to port and be directed to a fast lane.

Penalties will also be handed out to truckers who stay longer than necessary when they arrive on the Zimbabwean side, drivers will need to finalise border processes immediately and not stay over and the same applies to those who arrive in Zimbabwe without the necessary preclearance compliance.

Furthermore, Zimra has continuously pleaded with clearing agents and runners to be available throughout the night, and appealed for improved communication between all concerned, transporters, drivers, and the aforementioned border staff.

This news is welcomed as the interventions appear to address all the issues previously mentioned as causes for congestion at Beitbridge.

As for the argument by some long-distance hauliers that the cost of using Zimborders’ facilities costing $201 for a conventional truck has resulted in resistance to the cross-border route via Beitbridge.

A trip via Groblersbrug through Botswana will cost as there is currently a 12-kilometre queue there which could cost up to R5000 a day that could end up costing around R25 000 extra for the entire trip, or one could pay R5000 at Beitbridge and cross the border in half an hour.

Since the implementation of the new procedures, drivers are claiming that the processing rate at Beitbridge is so quick that the turnaround time is no longer than half an hour to get through.

Truck drivers’ strike on the cards, the N3 highway had been blocked off earlier this week near Harrismith as part of a national protest by truck drivers.

Around 30 truck drivers had parked their trucks on the N3, closing the road totally. They are demanding to see transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, their main grievance is foreign truck drivers being allowed to drive trucks in the country.

According to All Truck Drivers Foundation (ADTF) secretary-general Sifiso Nyathi, the nationwide shutdown by local truck drivers is aimed at forcing freight companies to stop employing foreign nationals.

He said ATDF was not behind the protect action, which the truck drivers themselves allegedly organised, but added that the organisation did support the mass action.

In June 2020, ATDF threatened a national strike to protest claims that foreign nationals were being employed by the industry instead of local drivers. At the time, the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria granted an interdict against the planned strike.

There have been reports of violence in certain areas as trucks are being torched and drivers badly beaten with one report claiming a driver had lost his life.

Carriers schedule reliability remains bleak, it may not have plummeted further, but 34% schedule reliability is hardly a cause for celebration.

According to the latest Global Liner Performance report published by maritime consultancy Sea-Intelligence, there was a 0.6 percentage point improvement to 34.0% in September, maintaining the range of 34%-40% seen throughout the year.

On a year-on-year basis, reliability is down 22.0 percentage points, where the average delay for late vessel arrivals also improved marginally, dropping to 7.27 days.

Copper prices expected to decline into next year, copper prices are due to extend their decline next year from record levels this year as mine supply ramps up and economic growth tapers in China.

The precious metal soared to a record peak of $10,747.50/tonne in May, but has since then retreated around 10%, weighed down by weak Chinese factory output, debt problems in the property market and an energy crunch.

Analysts have revised their forecast for the copper market balance next year to a surplus of 82,000 tonnes from a deficit of 100,000 tonnes.

Zimbabwean miners losing out thanks to exchange rate, Zimbabwe’s miners are losing 20% of their export proceeds due to a widening gap between the official and black-market currency exchange rate.

The Zimbabwe dollar is trading at 93 to the dollar on the official market, but is quoted as low as 180 against the greenback on a thriving black market.

A survey commissioned by Zimbabwe’s mining chamber found that the mining companies were losing money due to the exchange rate mismatch. Exporters from Zimbabwe are required to surrender 40% of their foreign currency earnings to the central bank, in exchange for local currency at the official rate.

The mining companies said they were also battling electricity shortages, low levels of investment and the high cost of capital, but despite the challenges, the survey found that miners were more confident about their prospects for 2022 compared to this year.

Zimbabwe recorded earnings of $3.65-billion from mineral exports last year, with platinum group metals and gold accounting for 82% of the earnings.

Central bank governor John Mangudya has promised to let miners retain 80% of their export earnings if they increased production although he did not specify what increase he would like to see.

KCM liquidator denies all charges, state-appointed provisional liquidator of Zambia’s Konkola Copper Mines this past Tuesday appeared in court and denied charges of money laundering and the theft of 4.4-million Zambian kwacha.

Zambia’s Drug Enforcement Commission, which also handles money-laundering cases, last month arrested liquidator Milingo Lungu and charged him with money laundering and the theft of more than $2 million between May 2019 and September this year.

“I deny the charge,” Lungu told magistrate Felix Kaoma when the charges were read to him. The case was adjourned to November 29 for the trial to start. Lungu’s police bond was extended.

Local elections, the time has come again for South Africans to go to the polls, this time for local elections where new mayoral candidates have the opportunity to be elected, please note our offices will be closed on 1 November 2021.

 Table Mountain, Africa’s leading attraction!

Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain in South Africa has been voted as Africa’s leading tourist attraction by the 2021 World Travel Awards, a spot that it has held since 2019.

October is a special month for Table Mountain and the Mother City as the Table Mountain Cableway, which first opened on October 4, 1929, celebrates its 92nd birthday and has been nominated as the World’s leading Cable Car.

Table Mountain’s reign at the summit comes on the back of multiple awards for Cape Town in 2021. The city has also been named Africa’s leading city destination as well as its airport being voted as number one on the continent.

Table Mountain beat out some strong competitors to retain its pole position in 2021 including Mountain Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, and the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.

 

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts”

Trade Winds bimonthly update volume 46

NUMSA strike, devastating blow to the industry! The national steel strike in South Africa, which has been ongoing now since the 5th of October is showing its true ugly face as the steel sector and downstream industries are the feeling the blow.

Since last week Tuesday, majority of companies within the sector are unable to produce or deliver material which in turn is having a hard knock-on effect to downstream players and other industries involved.

Since the start of the strike up until earlier this week Tuesday, BMW has advised that they have lost production on 700 cars, in one week, that is a tremendous loss, loss in wages has accumulated over 100million rand at this stage and continues to climb as there is a no work no pay clause due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Companies are being forced to shut their doors due to intimidation and violence from striking workers, there have been reports on companies being burnt and innocent people being badly beaten.

The strike is likely to lead to job cuts, further hammering an industry that’s been in decline for several years which in turn threatens to derail the potential recovery of South Africa’s economy from the coronavirus pandemic, which triggered the biggest annual contraction since 1994, and worsen an employment crisis. The joblessness rate rose to a record 34.4% in the second quarter.

On Tuesday, NUMSA rejected another wage offer as it stands firm on the 8% demand, however there is speculation that they may give in sooner rather than later.

Border updates, chaos ensues at Beitbridge border post as the 10km queue remains in place. The backlog at the border has been present over the last two weeks with no real light at the end of the tunnel.

Border officials are suspected of allowing as many trucks as possible into the Zimbabwean border control zone at Beitbridge, upsetting the go-live chances of concession company Zimborders unblocking bottlenecking on its first day of operating new facilities at the congested crossing earlier this week.

Trucks had been allowed to park in each and every conceivable space north of the Limpopo, numbers of trucks entered the border post the night before go-live, officials had even pushed trucks into the old parking area which sent the border into absolute chaos the following morning before Zimborders started charging processing tariffs from 8am this past Monday morning.

Adding to the mess that Zimborders will have to untangle is the temporary expectation that drivers will have to pay border tariffs in cash until electronic payment facilities are switched on later this month.

The tariffs are as follows:
24-ton Triaxle – $175
34-ton Link – $175
Abnormal Loads – $300

The above charges all exclude VAT, VAT should be reclaimed, provided the transporter is registered in Zim.

For the time being, foreign-registered operators cannot reclaim their VAT, although this had been taken up with the relevant authorities.

As it stands as of today, there is currently a 20km queue south of the border.

Things aren’t much better east as the Groblersbrug/Kazangula passage is facing challenges itself, transporters are shaking their heads in disbelief and frustration over what’s happening on the cross-border road freight line from South Africa through Botswana into Zambia.

The newly built Kazangula bridge is finding itself troubled with a lesser bridge across the Limpopo River further south where truck traffic is building up much faster than expected at the Martins Drift-Groblersburg crossing, which has become frustrating of late for long-distance hauliers serving the Copperbelt region.

Transporters cannot expect any relief by opting for this route rather than the conventional north-south way through the already overburdened Beitbridge Border Post which is a 200 kilometre shorter trip, but unfortunately, the single-lane Limpopo bridge, coupled with stringent covid-testing requirements, is choking traffic flow towards Kazungula.

Sometimes drivers waiting in the queue to cross into Botswana are already Covid-cleared, but because PCR results are only valid for three days and often, drivers have to be retested by the time they finally cross the Limpopo.

At least the queue in South Africa had shrunk to three kilometres earlier this week.

Airfreight expecting growth in revenue, The International Air Transport Association has noted that they predict a healthy future for airfreight, expecting that demand will exceed pre-covid levels by 8% while revenues are expected to rise to a record $175 billion and in 2022 demand is expected to exceed pre-pandemic levels by 13%, with revenues expected to rise to $169bn.

The is all thanks to favourable indicators such as inventory levels and manufacturing output. World trade is anticipated to grow at 9.5% this year and 5.6% in 2022, e-commerce continues to climb at a double-digit rate, and demand for high-value specialised cargo such as healthcare goods and vaccines are on the rise.

Although this is good news, it does not come without complications as pandemic restrictions have led to severe global supply-chain congestion and created hardships for aircrew crossing international borders. Resourcing and capacity, handling and facility space and logistics will be an issue.

August port volumes the lowest in three years, Transnet’s ransomware attack in August had a greater impact on volumes than the July protests which closed the port of Durban for several days.

According to Transnet statistics, it was the slowest August in three years, with 2020 volumes surpassing it.

In August 2021 a total of 330 109 TEUs was handled, compared to 354 015 in 2020, and 447 072 the year before that and 652 vessels were worked in August 2021, compared to 801 in August 2020 and 835 in August 2019.

In addition to a stuttering economy, riots and now elections, shipping volumes in South Africa are also being affected by global supply chain disruptions. At the end of August, over 40 container ships were waiting to berth outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach alone, with 90% of those arriving at a port having to wait at anchorage before a berth became available.

Shipping lines are focusing on high-revenue routes at the expense of Africa, with capacity in Africa having fallen by 6.5% year-on-year.

Some traffic is also being lost to ports in neighbouring countries as news from Dar es Salaam is that volumes are up following investment in port infrastructure, systems and people and a number of lines have introduced new services.

Namport has reported a 15% growth in container volumes year-on-year.

Supply chain disruptions should be expected for the next two years at least. The global supply chain was in crisis at the beginning of the pandemic, and it is expected that there may be an easing in 2023.

Earlier this week, Moody Analytics warned that the disruptions will get worse before they get better, citing delays at key US ports, as well as the national labour shortage.

The agency went on to say that there are “dark clouds ahead” for the global supply chain as there is no clear solution to work out issues between subsections of the supply chain around the world, the alarming shortage of truck drivers in particular has been identified as the weakest link in the supply chain causing equipment shortages as shipping yards are left swamped with excess containers.

The supply-chain crisis has caused major shortages of everything from foods to electronics, cars, furniture, and general household goods. Automakers have slashed production goals on more than one occasion, whilst major clothing companies like Nike have warned that products will be harder to find over the holiday season due to the bottlenecks.

Analysts at RBC Capital Markets have agreed with Moody’s concerns. Earlier this month, the bank analysed the 22 most influential ports around the world and gauged how long it takes for cargo ships to enter and unload.

They found that 77% of ports have experienced above-average wait times this year. Of the 22 ports, ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach had the most inefficient wait times of any other top port in the world with turnaround times for a container nearly doubling in 2021 as compared to averages seen pre-pandemic.

Turnaround times increased from just over 3 days to around 6 days which is almost five days longer than several ports in Asia which operate 24/7. The white house has announced that the the Southern California ports would move toward 24/7 operations in a move to reduce waiting times.

Copper price climbs again, The global energy crisis that has led to power shortages and factory shutdowns did not stop copper prices from climbing to their highest levels since the beginning of August.

On Wednesday this week, copper futures for December delivery erased earlier losses to trade at $4.499/lb for a gain of 4.0%.

The rebound in copper prices comes amid short-term concerns surrounding China and its debt riddled property sector, plus the ongoing economic threat posed by the covid-19 delta variant.

However, Citigroup has warned that prices could fall another 10%, with demand shrinking over the next three months.

Possible mining tax changes coming to Zambia, President Hakainde Hichilema earlier this week mentioned changes to Zambia’s mining taxation policies must not be frowned upon.

Zambian mining companies have long complained about what they call “double taxation” because since 2019 mineral royalty payments are not treated as a deductible expense when calculating corporate income tax.

Although President Hichilema did not provide details on the potential tax changes, he did express his concern that policies and laws for mining should be “appropriate and attractive”.

Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane will present Zambia’s new budget on October 29 where further details will be released.

Zimbabwe temporarily lifts ban on coal exports, Zimbabwe has allowed the export of 200,000 tonnes of excess power coal because of limited intake at its biggest coal-fired power plant, which is affected by frequent breakdowns.

Zimbabwe’s six major coal miners have a standing arrangement to supply 300,000 tonnes of coal to Hwange Power Station on a monthly basis but constant breakdowns of ageing equipment has resulted in the plant taking in less coal.

The coal will be exported to other countries in Southern Africa but producers could look beyond the region if port facilities are available.

The Hwange plant has a design capacity of 920 megawatts but is currently producing 410 MW. The power station is being expanded by China’s Sino Hydro to add another 600 MW capacity.

Moz president urges terrorists to surrender, President Filipe Nyusi last week, urged the ISIS-linked terrorists operating in parts of the northern province of Cabo Delgado to turn themselves over to the authorities.

Speaking to reporters in Maputo, immediately after laying a wreath at the Monument to the Mozambican Heroes, to mark the 29th anniversary of the 1992 peace agreement between the government and the Renamo rebels, President Nyusi stressed that the terrorists “have nowhere to go”.

The terrorists are being relentlessly pursued by the Mozambican and Rwandan security forces and their allies and have been driven out of their main bases.

There is hope that Mozambique’s giant liquefied natural gas project run by Total Energies in the north of the country will be revived.

Reopening of the LNG project will be a major boost for the logistics sector in Mozambique, which has invested heavily in preparing for the much-delayed start of construction, work came to a standstill in April 2020 when Total Energies withdrew all its staff after Islamist insurgents attacked the northern town of Palma.

Production was due to start in 2024. At the time of its withdrawal, Total said it would be at least a year before it returned, and that it was looking at guarantees for the safety of its personnel and infrastructure.

The Jacaranda’s are now in full bloom transforming many of our streets and parks into places of magnificent beauty with brilliant blues and purples heralding the change of Season.

 

 

Upcoming Public Holidays:
18th October 2021 – Zambian National Day of Prayer (ZAM)
25th October 2021 – Zambian Independence Day (ZAM)

 

 

 

“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it”

Trade Winds bimonthly update volume 45

NUMSA strike to start next week! Confirmation is out that the anticipated, dreaded steel strike action will commence next week Tuesday, confirmation has come from NUMSA themselves that they will embark on industrial action at 5am on the day.

Over 430,000 workers across 9,000 steel and engineering companies will down tools.

NUMSA initially demanded a 15% increase across the board, however in August, it revised the wage demand down to 8% after declaring a dispute at the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council.

NUMSA says the strike can only be avoided if employers meet workers’ demands.

We will keep our customers up to date with the latest developments as and when received.

Please note that we will be working tirelessly around the clock to ensure that all orders can be dispatched prior to the strike and we will evaluate the situation on a day-by-day basis.

Border updates, over a month, 44 days to be precise, that’s how long the current phase of bottlenecking in the northbound lane south of Beitbridge has lasted.

On the bright side, the queue of trucks waiting to cross into Zimbabwe is around 6kms currently which could also be seen as a norm, drivers on average having to wait roughly four days to get through the border.

Word is out that there is a new charge system being implemented next month that will see transporters fork out additional costs that have been put in place by the Zimbabwean minister of transport, as it stands heavy vehicles will be paying an additional $100, goods vehicles $175 and abnormal load operators will have to pay out $300 a load.

With just a few days remaining before the revamped facilities at Beitbridge come online on the Zimbabwean side of the notoriously congested crossing, transporters are eager for relief from long delays in the northbound queue south of the border. Some of the upgrades to note is a new weighbridge, refurbished scanners a warehouse and newly built roads and a parking area.

The teething issues at the Kazungula Border Post, which a month ago still meant trucks took 30 hours on average to pass through a single-window system, have been sorted out that there is no processing queue at the moment.

It is noted that transporters who are currently using that route can do Johannesburg to Lusaka and offload in three days.

US ports battling record volumes, a behemoth of carrier queues, building up at anchorage off the United States west coast, has over 60 box ships waiting to berth at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

65 container vessels were waiting for slots as the US economy gathers momentum and importers rally to meet demand by building up their inventories., The two ports, which are said to handle about 40% of America’s inbound goods, used to record maybe one ship waiting to offload in pre-Covid times.

With containers at sea, US retailers and suppliers are running short of everything, from toys to timber, clothes and construction materials, most of which are coming in from China.

Container rates and availability having negative impact, the worldwide container crunch is continuing to weigh heavily on the bottom line of shippers as the unavailability of boxes and related costs mount up while freight forwarders increasingly find themselves unable to cope with rising costs and crippling delays.

The backlog for booked containers continues to grow with current container availability reaching a two-week backlog and on top of that, almost no carrier space to be had until the middle of October all whilst carriers are still charging for detention and demurrage.

US shippers and truckers are still awaiting feedback from a Federal Maritime Commission undertaking to take action against the liner industry for D&D charges, agricultural and industrial exporters in the US have approached President Joe Biden to intervene in week-long delays for containers, related costs and loss of income.

China completes Maersk deal, a transaction said to be netting Maersk $987.3 million reportedly the most lucrative in the line’s history of some 94 odd years, will see the Danish line part with its container manufacturing subsidiary after China International Marine Containers succeeded in the purchase of Maersk Container Industry.

With the deal now finally in the bag, after months of negotiations, Chinese factories will be responsible for manufacturing 96% of the world’s dry bulk containers, and 100% of all reefer boxes effectively handing China a monopoly in the global container business.

China power constraints cause havoc, Copper prices fell on Wednesday as investors reduced risk exposure amid uncertainty caused by a power restriction in China.

Power restrictions in China have hurt supplies of some metals in recent months, but electricity curbs recently spread to more downstream sectors such as tech giants Apple and Tesla which poses a threat to supply chains and could break at the peak season for the sale of electronic goods and items in China.

A trade squabble with Australia has led to the shortage of coal where almost 60% of the Chinese economy is powered by coal, it is estimated that up to 44% of China’s industrial activity has been affected by power shortages which has enraged the public and has also caused shutdowns to traffic lights and 3G mobile phone coverage in some areas.

President Xi Jinping’s decision for Beijing to stop building new power plants overseas is bad news for Zimbabwe too as the African country is heavily dependent on China after it had sanctions imposed on it by the United States and some European countries because of former President Robert Mugabe’s human rights abuses and a policy of seizing land from white farmers.

Zimbabwe was planning to build several coal-fired power plants costing a total of US$15 billion, with Chinese lenders initially committing to fund them.

However, earlier this week, in a pre-recorded speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Xi sounded a death knell for several coal projects, including in Zimbabwe, for which Chinese lenders were expected to provide financing.

China is going on a week-long holiday starting October 1, with investors squaring positions ahead of the break to reduce exposure in a volatile market environment.

Zimasco completes feasibility Study, the Zimbabwean ferrochrome producer has completed a feasibility study for the construction of the Mberengwa furnaces, where it also hopes to open new mines in the same district.

The company announced a US$35 million investment in new furnaces at its Kwekwe smelting facility, as part of a goal to expand output by 40% by the end of next year.

Zimasco had plans previously to create a joint venture with Afrochine, a Chinese mining firm for the Neta project however, after Afrochine, a subsidiary of Tsingshan Holding Group, backed out of plans to build an iron ore mine and a carbon steel plant in Zimbabwe, the company will now pursue this alone.

The Mberengwa furnaces will have the capacity to produce 160,000 tonnes of ferrochrome per annum

The new Kwekwe furnaces will have a capacity of 72,000 tonnes per year, increasing Zimasco’s ferrochrome production from 180,000 to 252,000 tonnes.

A 300,000-tonne-per-year sinter plant is part of the project, where the company will be able to exploit its crumbly ore resource, something it has previously been unable to accomplish due to obsolete technology at existing chrome smelters.

Liquidator at KCM arrested, State-appointed provisional liquidator of Konkola Copper Mines has been arrested and charged with laundering more than $2million.

The commission alleged that Milingo Lungu, acting with others, engaged in theft involving 110.4-million Zambian kwachas and $250,000 between May 22, 2019 and August 15, 2021, he also obtained money by false pretences amounting to $2.2-million.

Lungu’s appointment at KCM in May 2019 triggered a legal battle with Vedanta Resources, KCM’s parent company.

Zambia’s president to meet IMF, Zambia’s president Hakainde Hichilema is due to meet officials at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington, as the southern African nation tries to secure a lending programme to help it emerge from a debt crisis.

Zambia became the first African country to default on its sovereign debt during the COVID-19 pandemic after failing to keep up with payments on nearly $13 billion of international debt where a quarter of this debt is held by China and Chinese entities via deals shrouded in secrecy clauses, complicating negotiations for IMF relief.

Finance minister Situmbeko Musokotwane said last month securing an IMF programme was critical to restoring creditor confidence and giving the government access to cheaper and longer financing.

Moz government needs $300 Million to rebuild, Mozambique needs $300 million to rebuild insurgency-hit Cabo Delgado Province, the country’s Prime Minister said earlier this week.

The funds will go towards footing the bill for an emergency plan for post-conflict recovery and restoring normalcy in recovered districts in the north of Cabo Delgado.

In July, SADC countries started deploying forces to assist the Mozambican Defence Forces to fight insurgency and terrorism in the northern region.

The joint force in Mozambique is made up of the country’s Security and Defence Forces, the SADC mission to Mozambique as well as a deployment of the contingent comprised of members of the Rwanda Defence Force and the Rwanda National Police.

Rwanda was the first to send 1,000 troops to Mozambique, followed by Botswana with 296 troops whilst South Africa deployed 1,500 soldiers. Zimbabwe also sent 304 military instructors to train Mozambican soldiers to fight insurgents.

 

 

“It doesn’t matter how slow you go as long as you don’t stop”

 

 

Trade Winds bimonthly update volume 44

NUMSA strike to go ahead, At a CCMA facilitated Dispute between NUMSA and other unions earlier this week, NUMSA exercised its right to call for the issuing of a certificate of non-resolution.

With NUMSA having declared it’s dispute against all the employer organisations on the 29 July, and SEIFSA and the Associations having countered with its dispute against NUMSA on 2 August, NUMSA is within its right to call for the certificate.

We will monitor the situation and circulate any information received but the feeling is that we must prepare for the worst-case scenario.

Some striking has been noted at various steel merchants around Johannesburg which in turn will lead to some disruptions in steel supply.

Border updates, Beitbridge is once again the centre of attention as delays continue, this time with various contributing factors. SARS’s systems have gone down.

Trade flows through the routinely congested transit have been a nightmare of late, with processing delays on the Zimbabwean side of the crossing slowing traffic to a trickle.

Now, with SARS also experiencing issues, the queue south of the border is expected to worsen and transporters are advised to make the necessary preparations for a long wait.

The question also remains as to why trucks working the north-south line through the Southern African Development Community should be checked and charged by Zimbabwean authorities as often as they are at the two primary transits on this route – Beitbridge down south and Chirundu in the north.

At the Limpopo River crossing, alleged over-inspection is resulting in a queue stretching for kilometres south of the border, although processing is affected because of physical constraints caused by construction work, it still doesn’t explain why the Vehicle Inspection Department is inspecting cargo already weighed immediately south of the border.

Transport carrying SA’s GDP, South Africa’s transport sector grew 6.9% in the year’s second quarter, becoming the biggest sector to add to the 1.2% economic expansion announced earlier this month by Statistics South Africa.

The mining sector, sustained by a growing demand for raw minerals by global manufacturers, grew 4%.

The South African economy recorded its fourth consecutive quarter of growth, expanding by 1.2% in the second quarter of 2021.

The economic impact of the wave of severe economic disruption, protest action and violence in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, which took place in July, will only reflect in the third quarter GDP results, due for release in December.

Solar Power to reduce reliance on Eskom, The generation of solar power by top-performing gold mining company Pan African Resources is expected to lower reliance on power utility Eskom by up to 30%.

Pan African’s focus is to function off the national electricity grid during daytime hours at the moment as power storage options appeared to be very expensive at the moment.

The group’s focus now is solar and making sure it works. Ten megawatts will be the first plant and by early next year it would have proven itself.

Pan African produced 12.4% more gold over the last 12 months and reported a 36% increase in operating profit to $128 million.

Container rates continue to soar, container rates have more than quadrupled since the beginning of this year as shippers across the globe drive prices to levels well beyond the previous peak recorded 16 years ago.

The peak from 2005 is a whopping 128% lower than the level to which the current rates have increased.

To make matters worse for freight forwarders battling to keep up, the 128% increase is expected to curve upwards into 2022.

There is some hope as some freight liners such as CMA CGM have announced that freight rates will be paused till early next year as well as German shipping major Hapag-Lloyd confirmed that it had put a hold on freight rate increases on certain routes and would continue to do so for the time being.

Port congestion and severe capacity shortfalls have put shipping lines in the driver’s seat as rates skyrocketed. However, with lines under increasing pressure from shippers and regulators, perhaps this is the start of a cooling of rate rises.

Copper and Iron Ore prices drop, Iron ore price fell on Thursday after China reported a drop in the country’s steel production in August. The price of the commodity dropped by 7%.

China’s production was in excess of 83 million tonnes of crude steel in August, a 13% drop from the same period a year ago which is the lowest recorded level since March 2020. China’s efforts to cut emissions is the leading cause in the drop.

The price of copper is another commodity that felt a price drop as China has decided to release copper, aluminium and zinc from its state reserves, in an effort to overcome the gap between supply and demand.

China, being the world’s number one metal’s consumer had released 420,000 tonnes of the metals so far this year through batches where the public could bid on prices that sat slightly lower than the market value.

Copper was trading around $9,438 per tonne on Thursday.

The market now awaits the expected tapering of stimulus in next week’s US Federal Reserve meeting.

Zambian government to restore sanity, Zambia’s newly appointed mines minister, Paul Kabuswe, said on Tuesday that government will ensure that there is stability and predictability in the mining sector as well as calming any fears of mining royalties being increased.

Zambia, being Africa’s second-largest copper producer, which defaulted on its sovereign debt last year, has benefited from an increase in copper prices to record highs.

Zambia’s policy on Mopani Copper Mines KCM, two critical operations will be overseen by new President Mr. Hichilema. Zambia took on $1.5 billion in debt to buy Mopani from Glencore in January this year and they are still seeking a new investor for it. The previous administration was looking for an investor to fund the mine’s expansion, which they are hoping would boost output from 34,000 tonnes of copper a year to 150,000 tonnes.

President Hichilema’s market-friendly stance will hopefully attract new investment into Zambia’s mining sector which in turn will help boost the country’s copper production at a favourable time whilst copper nears record-highs.

Zimbabwe seeking investors, Zimbabwe will seek to raise $200 million in a debut domestic U.S. dollar bond sale on its stock exchange in Victoria Falls that trades exclusively in foreign currency, according to Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube.

Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that the bond sale would be for $100 million. In August, Ncube said a debt offering could help meet the cost of a $3.5 billion compensation bill the country is facing after it reached an agreement with White farmers evicted from their land two decades ago.

The so-called “Zimbabwe Global Investor Roadshow” has seen Ncube travel to South Africa and Dubai to court foreign investment. In New York, Ncube will also meet with officials from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, ahead of an IMF visit to Zimbabwe that’s expected next month.

Zim looking for additional power to ease 12-hour cuts, Zimbabwe is looking to Mozambique and Zambia to supply it with more electricity as it tries to fill a power shortfall that’s led to 12 hour power cuts.

Government is currently in discussion with Mozambique trying to secure an additional 180 megawatts from their newly commissioned power plants as well as attaining an extra 100 megawatts from Zambia.

The current electricity cuts are due to rehabilitation work at the Kariba South hydropower plant, constraints at its coal-fired Hwange plant as well as limited power imports, according to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority.

On a lighter note; a Zimbabwean artist has brought new life to obsolete Mugabe-era banknotes and turned them into striking paintings.  A 100 trillion Zimbabwe dollar has finally found value thanks to the artistic talent of Prudence Chimutuwah.  Prudence explained that she wants people to heal from the damage caused during the days of hyper-inflation and see the bank notes in a new joyful light!  Her figures are mainly painted in blue, which she described as “a symbol of strength and dominance”.

Happy weekend ahead!

 

Upcoming Public Holidays:
24th September 2021 – Heritage Day (RSA)

 

 

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

 

Trade Winds bimonthly update volume 41

Fuel hikes continue to hammer the consumer, back-to-back fuel increases have begun to show its ugly face as manufacturing costs are starting to climb as well as the base price of PVC and HDPE has increased as they raw material is directly affected by fuel price changes.

Border updates, no current delays or issues have been reported at the various borders within Southern and Central Africa.

Potential steel strike on the cards! A dispute over salary increases for workers in SA’s engineering and steel industry has been declared by the National Union of Metalworkers of SA. The union is now threatening strike action in the industry, which could be disastrous for an economy that took a R50-billion hit due to the recent social unrest.

A general strike in the public sector, which could have shut down state hospitals, schools, and police stations, has been averted but possible industrial action might be in the offing in SA’s engineering and steel industry.

A strike in the engineering and steel industry, which contributes about 10% to SA’s overall economic activity, could further harm an economy that is still reeling from Covid-19 related lockdowns and the recent week of anarchy.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (NUMSA), which claims to have more than 339,000 members, has trashed the government’s offer for public servants, calling it an “insult” because public sector unions were pushing for an increase of at least 8%.

NUMSA is also seeing red in the engineering and steel industry as the union has threatened to go on a “mother of all strikes” for higher pay. NUMSA has demanded a salary increase of 8% for workers in the engineering and steel industry for one year with an adjustment of consumer inflation plus 2% for the following two years. This works out to salary increases of just over 6% because the SA Reserve Bank expects inflation to average 4.2% and 4.5% in 2022 and 2023 respectively.

Employers in the engineering and steel industry are not entertaining NUMSA’s salary adjustment demands as they have tabled a 4.4% increase for 2021, an inflation plus 0.5% increase in 2022, and inflation plus 1% increase in 2023. Using the Reserve Bank’s inflation forecast, the offer of employers works out to salary increases of about 4.7% in 2022 and 5.5% in 2023.

The employers are represented by industry bodies including the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA, the South African Engineers’ and Founders’ Association, and others.

NUMSA has rejected the offer by the employers and declared a dispute on Thursday 29 July at the Metals and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council. NUMSA wants the employers to reconsider their salary adjustment offer, failing that, the union will “serve employers with a 48-hour notice for an indefinite national strike.”

The union has implored other workers in the automotive industry, component supplies, tyre sector, mining, aviation, and all ports to join the possible strike in solidarity. This would be a disaster for the economy, which suffered a R50-billion hit in its output due to the recent street violence and looting that also blocked key supply chains in the broader manufacturing industry from operating.

This past Monday, SEIFSA, who employ about 190,000 workers in the engineering and steel industry, declared a counter dispute against NUMSA at the bargaining council over the union’s refusal to accept the offer by employers. The counter dispute will ensure that employers have the right to implement a lockout of workers if they were to go on a strike. In other words, workers represented by NUMSA could be excluded from their workplaces until the dispute is resolved.

It is noted that SEIFSA has approached the bargaining council and has scheduled a special meeting on Tuesday 10 August between all parties in order to decide on how best to progress the deadlock.

Transnet NAVIS system fully operational, Government has announced a breakthrough following Transnet’s IT security breach last week.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Public Enterprises, Transnet has managed to restore operations at the ports fully, which now enables the country’s supply chain and logistics system to resume normal operations.

The main system responsible for the container operations, the Navis N4 terminal operating system has been fully restored and customers are now able to access the customer links to facilitate imports and exports.

The shipping lines, accounting for 70% of the cargo moving across the ports, have given the assurance that South African ports will not be bypassed, and they will continue to work with Transnet during this recovery period.

Giant leaps with Manhize steel works in Zim, the recent US$1 billion investment into Zimbabwe’s new steel industry and surrounding sectors remain on course for production to start next year.

The ferrochrome smelters in Selous are ready to go, Hwange’s first coke battery is open with the second under construction and now the planning and layout work being done at Manhize where the iron ore will be mined and steel smelted and processed.

Manhize is situated in the south-west district of Chikomba, close to Chirumhanzu and Kadoma where all three areas are seeing the mines, steelworks as a hub for local development and job creation.

Although the giant Chinese investor is opening the mine, building the steel plant, and building the houses where its workers will live, it will not be running the shops, the service stations, the banks and all the other economic activity that the large workforces will require, so there is a lot of scope for Zimbabwean investors and businesses.

The huge investment has so many advantages, Zimbabwean industrialists get a primary raw material, a full range of steels and steel products on tap, while mature industrial nations might be talking about the post-industrial societies they are building, it is a fact that no country can move its industry forward without that heavy industrial base.

Manhize mills is planned to be the largest steel producer in Southern Africa, producing a wide range of steels and stainless steels. While the Zimbabwean mining sector, construction industry and others will be buying a share, much of the production will be exported.

Chrome export banned in Zim, the exports of chrome ore have been banned with immediate effect and exports of chrome concentrates from July next year, as there are now enough smelters in the country to ensure that all exports are of ferrochrome ingots.

At the same time Cabinet has agreed to work with private investors to set up gold centres to assist small-scale miners produce more efficiently and will be welcoming a new investor in diamonds, Ashelroi Trading and Services, whose plans are to set up a cutting and polishing centre in Zimbabwe.

Gold centres are expected to be established in Makaha, Odzi, Mount Darwin, Shamva, Mazowe and Silobela

The three measures are all designed to boost production and the value of the products that are eventually exported.

The move on chrome, reversing a temporary policy of allowing ore exports, merges with the strategies outlined in the National Development Strategy 1 which wants mineral exports to be partially processed in Zimbabwe before export to add value.

Zimbabwe boasts the world’s second-largest chromium reserves after South Africa and the mineral is expected to boost the vision of attaining a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023.

Production at KCM plummets, Global copper prices have reached record highs in recent months trading at $10,460 per tonne at the end of May.

For a copper-based mining economy like Zambia this should be generating increased tax revenues, and subsequent social benefits, as companies maximise their production to take advantage of these high prices. Across the private sector this is happening, however at government-run mines this is unfortunately not the case.

Production at Konkola Copper Mines has collapsed since the government effectively took over control of the mine from Vedanta Resources in May 2019, with copper production falling by almost 70%. KCM was averaging 8,000 tonnes copper production per month, that figure has now plummeted to roughly 2,000 tonnes per month. Mine development has dropped significantly which is going to put thousands of jobs at risk and as well as the potential shutting down of the mining business.

In response the government has tried a number of desperate moves aimed at improving production rates and bolstering profit margins by slashing the 5% import duty on foreign concentrates as well as ordering ZESCO to supply electricity free of charge to allow KCM’s smelter to run.

Zambians are missing out on high copper prices, following a difficult period in 2020 when the commodity price crashed. Given that copper production is worth 10% of the country’s GDP, this is money that Zambians cannot afford to go without.

Vedanta, whom were previously in control of the mine, had been Zambia’s largest public employer and responsible for 1/5th of the country’s overall copper output.

Vedanta have promised an additional $1.5 billion in investment if the government hands them back control of the mine.

Botswana joins in sending troops to Mozambique, Botswana’s security cannot be attained without that of her neighbours, President Mokgweetsi Masisi last week Monday.

Speaking at a ceremony to send off members of the Botswana Defence Force to Mozambique as part of the Southern African Development Community’s standby force to help fight terrorism in Cabo Delgado, he said a deceptive enemy awaits them.

“As your commander in chief, I am alive to the fact that you will be facing a deceptive enemy which is likely to use asymmetric warfare, unconventional and underhand warfare tactics against yourselves and the population you will be protecting. As professionals, you stand for much more than they do and must avoid emulating them and sinking to their level,” he said.

The Botswana soldiers will join soldiers from South Africa as well as soldiers from Rwanda who were deployed early in July.

 

 

Upcoming Public Holidays:
9th August 2021 – National Women’s Day (RSA)
9th August 2021 – Heroes’ Day (Zimbabwe)
10th August 2021 – Defence Forces Day (Zimbabwe)

 

 

“When everything seems to be against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it”