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Trade Winds bimonthly update volume 33

Biggest one yet!  ArcelorMittal SA has just recently given out notice of yet again another steel increase for the month of May, the increase sitting at a staggering R2,250.00 per ton is the biggest one yet.

This will now be the fifth consecutive increase this year with a possible positive outlook in the third quarter where prices are expected to drop.

Along with increased fuel, electricity and labour hikes this won’t be the end of the dark road within the steel sector.

With material being so scarce in South Africa and constant price increases, will SA still be an important game player within the steel sector? Only time will tell.

Border updates, there has been an increase in hijackings at the Beitbridge border post and with the latest developments, Ekhuruleni police officers have been implicated as accomplices.

The National Traffic Anti-Corruption Unit (Ntacu) has slammed the brakes on a traffic and police officers’ syndicate, which has allegedly been hijacking trucks on major Gauteng transportation routes.

The investigation is ongoing and more arrests can be expected. The suspects are expected to appear in court soon.

This seems to be the only burning issue of this nature across Southern Africa borders.

We would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family of the driver who tragically and unnecessarily lost his life in a robbery at Beitbridge recently.

Ever Given consequences being realised, not only has Egypt filed a multi-million pound compensation claim against the owner of the container ship but Suez Canal Authority has also estimated a $300 million bill for “loss of reputation” and an equal amount charged as a “salvage bonus”.

The responsibility for this massive mishap, that took at least 800 people and more than a dozen tugboats to correct, is now a ping pong between the Japanese vessel owner and the line operator Evergreen.

General Average (GA) was declared by the owner of the vessel which means that there is a potential of spreading the cost of significant expenses amongst shippers.

PowerChina hydro project delayed, work on the 2,400-megawatt facility had been scheduled to start in 2020, but yet another victim of the COVID-19 pandemic, this $4 billion hydropower plant has been suspended until towards the end of 2022.

This project awarded to General Electric Co. and Power Construction Corp. of China aims to ease electricity shortages to both Zambia and Zimbabwe will potentially be funded by domestic pension funds in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Trade and Development Bank a Bujumbura which is a Burundi-based multilateral lender, has been appointed as the lead co-ordinator for financing the project.

A new coal player in Zim, Contango Holdings’ Lubu project in Zimbabwe, which comprises a substantial coking coal resource, ticks all the right boxes to deliver a financially lucrative business.

Lubu covers 19,236 hectares of the highly prospective Karroo Mid Zambezi coal basin which is located in the Hwange mining district in North Western Zimbabwe.

Historically, around US$20 million has been spent on advancing the project, including the completion of a pre-feasibility study, resourced modelling and mine planning with test work to confirm the presence of thermal and coking coal.

Contango started as a shell company looking to acquire a near-term production asset rather than an exploration asset, and this led to its interest in and purchase of Lubu.

Having reviewed multiple assets, it was determined that Lubu was a project that could bring into production quickly without the need for years of geological work to validate it. With extensive geological work completed, there was no exploration risk involved in the asset.

ZISCO seeking new investors, Zimbabwe’s state-controlled iron and steel company ZISCO has invited new investors to help revive operations at the company that has been the target of interest from Indian and Chinese investors in the past.

ZISCO acting chairman Martin Manuhwa said earlier this week that the firm was again looking for new investors interested in resuscitating the company.

The successful investor would be expected to contract out at least 35% of engineering, procurement and construction business to the local community.

ZISCO owns an iron ore mining unit with an installed capacity of 2.16 million tonnes of ore a year as well as a wire products company.

Interested investors should submit their expression of interest by April 30. Successful investors would then be invited to participate in the bidding process for the funding.

CATL to acquire stake in Kisanfu, Battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) will be acquiring a stake in the Kisanfu copper-cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo for $137.5m.

According to the agreement, CATL New Energy will acquire 25% in China Molybdenum (CMOC) unit KFM Holding, KFM Holding owns a 95% stake in Kisanfu mine while the remaining 5% stake is held by the DRC Government.

The deal is expected to provide CATL with access to what is claimed to be one of the world’s largest, highest-grade undeveloped cobalt and copper projects.

Hunger threat, Almost 1-million people face severe hunger in northern Mozambique, where hundreds of thousands have fled Islamist militant attacks, the UN food agency advised earlier this week.

Islamic State-linked insurgents in March attacked Palma, a town in Cabo Delgado province next to gas projects under development by companies including Total and Exxon. All work in the region has since come to halt as the threat levels are at its peak.

The World Food Programme has noted that 950,000 people are now hungry in Mozambique and has appealed to donors for $82m to confront the crisis.

It seems that that the world has finally opened its eyes as SADC leaders all met in Maputo to discuss a way forward and to determine the response required to fight off the insurgents.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the meeting also agreed to revive a so-called SADC brigade to intervene in the conflict.

It is not confirmed that Mozambique has agreed that SADC forces would help the government fight the Islamic State-linked insurgency.

Under SADC rules, a member state must make an official request for the group to deploy the brigade.

SADC leaders are scheduled to meet again on April 29 to discuss the issue.

 

 

“Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable”

Trade Winds bimonthly update volume 32

Another month another increase!  Last month the steel mills within South Africa sent out notice of price increase effective 1 April and unfortunately this is no April Fool’s joke.

With the prices going up in the region of 5% this time round and the expectancy of another increase for May, business is taking a hit in all areas as it’s becoming more and more difficult to secure consistent pricing with some prices only being valid for 1 day!

The oil base price has also increased which has affected the plastics sector and we are expecting further increases on a month to month basis if this continues.

Border updates, there has been an unfortunate event at Beitbridge border post where a driver was shot in the head.

The dangerous security situation that develops at South Africa’s land border with Zimbabwe whenever there’s congestion at Beitbridge has resulted in one fatality and a truck driver fighting for his life after he was shot in the head.

The shooting once again highlights the danger to which truck drivers are exposed when waiting in queues at Beitbridge, especially south of the border.

There is lack of solid information as to why the northbound queue through the notoriously blocked-up border is yet again an issue also contributes to the fear and uncertainty truckers have to put up with at Beitbridge.

Ever Given finally freed, news broke from Egypt this past Monday morning that Ever Given is a float. This came after dislodging efforts were ramped up over the weekend, with at least 15 tugboats working the stricken vessel while dredging was under way.

The 400 meter long juggernaut of a container ship had been grounded in the Suez Canal for six days prior to its release and in turn blocking over 300 hundred ships during this time.

This event is expected to have a major impact on the economy in the coming weeks and months.

Ivanhoe looking to advance expansions, Ivanhoe Mines are looking to advance the expansions at their Kamoa-Kakula plant in DRC which include accelerating the Phase 3 expansion at the Kamoa-Kakula copper mine beyond Phases 1 and 2.

The other is fast-tracking additional hydropower upgrades in the DRC to ensure abundant clean and renewable electricity for all subsequent expansions at Kamoa-Kakula. The management team is also evaluating a potential, state-of-the-art, direct-to-blister smelter that could bring numerous economic benefits and further reduce the project’s Scope 3 emissions.

Democratic Republic of Congo is blessed with some of the world’s greatest hydropower potential. Hydro-generated electricity which can also potentially be supplemented by solar power.

The company will now look to further increase production at the Kamoa-Kakula copper joint-venture and to accelerate the Phase 3 concentrator expansion from 7.6 million tonnes per annum to 11.4 million tonnes per annum.

Together with their partner Zijin Mining, Phase 2 has already been accelerated and they are hopeful to begin production in Q3 2022 which will bring copper production to approximately 400,000 tonnes per year and with phase 3 being brought in thereafter the annual copper production is expected to rise to 530,000 tonnes per year.

ZCDC on brink of collapse, Zimbabwe’s state-owned diamond miner is reportedly on the brink of collapse after president Mnangagwa allowed Chinese mining giant Anjin to resume operations whom the late former President Robert Mugabe forced the closure of seven mining companies, including Anjin in 2016, and went on to merge their assets into the ZCDC.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa reversed that move in a bid to restore productivity in the diamonds sector and develop the country’s ailing economy.

The Anjin Diamond Mining Company contributed about $200m to Zimbabwe’s economy before it was forced to halt operations.

ZCDC has reportedly stopped mining in four of its concessions and abandoned the exploration of three other sites as it currently faces challenges that are threatening its viability.

FQM spends big in 2020, Zambia’s largest mining company, First Quantum Mining is full steam ahead in its mission to incorporate more local people in its supply chain to strengthen Zambian-owned businesses and boost the local economy.

The mining giants procured US$1.65 billion of goods and services from companies registered in Zambia in 2020, which represents 85% of the total expenditure by its, Kansanshi Mine in Solwezi and Sentinel in Kalumbila.

More than 2,500 locally registered businesses benefited from mine contracts in 2020 alone.

It is noted that the goal of FQM’s pro-Zambian approach is to build and stimulate sustainable growth for local businesses in and around its Kansanshi Mine in Solwezi and Sentinel Mine in Kalumbila as well as the country at large.

ZCCM-IH now has complete ownership of Mopani, shareholders in Zambia’s ZCCM-IH have overwhelmingly supported its acquisition of a 90% stake in Mopani Copper Mines.

Glencore agreed the sale of its majority stake in Mopani to ZCCM-IH in a $1.5 billion deal earlier this year.

The general meeting vote on the resolution was the last steppingstone towards the completion of the transaction and ZCCM-IH now holds 100% ownership of Mopani, with the increased ownership, ZCCM-IH will now be an active participant in the global industry.

ZCCM-IH plans to boost the copper output from 34,000 tonnes to 150,000 tonnes and by accomplishing this they are looking to find a new investor for Mopani by the end of the year.

Catastrophic events as Islamic State attack near Total, dozens of people were attacked and killed in a raid by the Islamic State in Mozambique, the attack began on March 24 in the northern costal town of Palma close to Total’s Liquefield Natural Gas Project, a plant that the IS has been trying to get to.

Whilst hundreds of people were evacuated by boats to the provincial capital of Pemba, many people remain unaccounted for.

The attack came soon after Total announced the resumption of work at the plant, no work had been done this year due to lack of security in and around the area.

Total has now said that it would reduce the number of workers on site going forward but for now no work will be done.

The terror attacks have so far claimed over 2,000 lives and about 1.3 million people face security crisis. Nearly 670,000 people have been displaced.

The world is starting to take a closer look, but no real aid has taken place, Mozambique clearly needs help and it’s time that its surrounding allies intervene with help from abroad.

 

 

We would like to take this time to wish our customer’s a Happy and peaceful Easter, and to enjoy their time with their families and most importantly to stay safe.

 

 

“The laughter of a child lights up the house”

Trade Winds bimonthly update volume 31

Steel price increases return!  Earlier this week various mills sent out steel price increase notices in the region of 5% to the sector, again adding further pressure to downstream industries. Constant challenges are being faced as prices continue to rise and the supply of steel is almost non-existent. It seems that the hope of the industry normalizing mid-year has a grey cloud over its head now.

A shock fuel price hike is also in place for the new month adding higher costs to logistics which in turn has negative effects down the line.

Another industry that is facing constant challenges is the plastic sector, Force Majeures implemented by Sasol in South Africa and other producers in America and Europe has resulted in massive increases in the range of 15% month on month is having a damaging effect, affecting prices on mining hose, PVC & HDPE pipes as well as rubber products.

The fuel price hike will also affect the plastic base price.

Border updates, Officials in Zambia stay silent as the Kazangula bridge lays dormant, rumours and guesswork that’s what fills the void of government sector officials who are not forthcoming with trustworthy information about the new bridge at the Kazungula border post between Zambia and Botswana.

Cross border operators carrying freight across the region are forced to use the pontoons which can only handle around 50 – 60 trucks a day whilst the beautiful Kazangula bridge is expected to handle at least 150 trucks a day. However, in all its glory, the bridge remains closed in the backdrop.

Rumour has it amongst transporters that the only reason the bridge remains closed is because money is still owed to the contractors by the Zambian government.

China’s Tsingshan to build mine and steel plant, China’s Tsingshan Holding Group is set to start developing an iron ore mine and a carbon steel plant in Zimbabwe from May, three years after the firm first announced the investment deal.

Tsingshan signed a $1-billion outline agreement with Zimbabwe in June 2018 to build a two-million-tonne-a-year steel plant and has been carrying out exploration and seeking more mineral concessions.

The Chinese company, through its Zimbabwean subsidiary Afrochine, already produces ferrochrome, which will also be used in the production of steel.

China has over the past few years emerged as a major foreign investor in Zimbabwe, with its firms mostly involved in mining of gold, chrome and diamonds and building power stations.

Zimbabwe has previously announced that it has a drive to increase mining revenue to $12Billion by 2023, last year, minerals earned the country $2.4-billion in exports.

Chimona mining invests in Bubi, Midlands based Chimona Mining Company has spread its wings to Bubi District in Matabeleland North where it has acquired new gold mining rights and will be setting up a processing centre under a US$500 000 investment.

The venture is expected to create more job opportunities in Matabeleland North and promote the formalisation of artisanal mining activities in Bubi, which is one of the richest gold districts in the country.

ZCCM on lookout for investors, Zambia’s state mining company is on the lookout for further deals as it prepares to complete its acquisition of a majority stake in Glencore’s struggling copper business in the country.

ZCCM Investment Holdings is considering any opportunities to increase the minority shareholdings that it owns in Zambia based companies.

ZCCM became an investment company in 2000 when Lusaka privatised the country’s mining industry, selling off controlling stakes in its prized copper mines to large mining groups. That process created Mopani Copper Mines, the business ZCCM is buying from Glencore, and Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), which is owned by Vedanta Resources.

Last year, ZCCM announced a change in strategy and said it would focus on mining and energy with the ambition of operating assets rather than just being a minority shareholder.

Ivanhoe completes phase one at Kakula, Ivanhoe Mines has completed 80% of phase one work at the Kakula copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo with first production targeted for July.

Ivanhoe is commissioning the concentrator plant at the Kamoa-Kakula operation, and has stockpiles already totalling over 2.16 million tonnes which contains an estimated 95,000 tonnes of copper.

The second phase expansion is set to begin during the third quarter of 2022. This phase is expected to double the mill throughput to 7.6 million tonnes a year. Phases 1 and 2 combined are forecast to produce up to 400,000 tonnes of copper a year.

Other engineering and construction activities underway at Kamoa-Kakula include the completion of upgrades at the Mwadingusha hydro-electric power plant and associated 220-kilovolt infrastructure to supply the mine with clean, renewable hydropower. The Mwadingusha hydropower plant is expected to deliver approximately 78 megawatts of power to the national electrical grid ahead of the start-up of the Kakula concentrator.

US to train Moz fighters, American military personnel will be spending two months in Mozambique, training the local soldiers in an aid to fight the jihadist insurgents.

The ISS has been in the gas rich Cabo Delgado province since 2017 and over the years have been growing in numbers and becoming more brazen with their attacks.

Earlier this week, the insurgents attacked children as young as 11 years old, beheading them with their violent attack. The violent attacks to date have claimed more than 2600 lives and has displaced over 670,000 people.

Few countries such as the UK, US, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa have voiced their concern and support for Mozambique but unfortunately it seems that its all just talk as the country continues to be battered by the Islamist group.

 

“A single stick may smoke, but it will not burn”

Trade Winds bimonthly update volume 30

South African steel industry on its knees, with the latest closure from ArcelorMittal, the South African steel industry has taken another knock, this puts further pressure on an already struggling sector where material availability is so scarce, raw material prices are constantly climbing and labour costs are rising, thankfully there was no steel increase at the beginning of the month however production costs have risen adding higher costs to finished products.

The sector is still very optimistic that by mid-year, steel levels will be rising and not just in South Africa but across the world.

Border updates, reports that a broken scanner was responsible for the backlog at the Chirundu Border Post between Zimbabwe and Zambia have been disproved, however the actual reason is that the backlog was because of truck congestion at the Port of Beira in Mozambique due to the new in-transit cargo sealing system creating major teething issues at the port, with transporters claiming earlier this week that up to 2000 trucks were stuck at the port.

Enhanced efforts at the port to clear congestion had resulted in spurts of trucks coming through on the Beira Corridor into Zimbabwe and queueing at Chirundu.

Collaborative efforts to clear Chirundu, however, are already paying off, with waiting time at the crossing being reduced from 48 to 24 hours.

The queue was estimated to be around six kilometres at one stage, it was down to about one kilometre yesterday.

Cross-border carriers within the SADC region received good news over last weekend when notice came from Zambia announcing that its recent decision to ban the transportation of heavy-load cargo at its Livingstone border with Zimbabwe had been temporarily withdrawn.

Had the announcement not been made, heavy-haul trucks travelling north or south would have been prevented from crossing the Vic Falls bridge as of the 1st of March.

Concerns were that it would force shipments heading towards the Copperbelt and the DRC to either make use of the Chirundu border which is further east or that north-south cargo would have to go via Botswana which truckers would then have to make use of the notorious Kazungula ferry crossing which has made the news over the past few months due to broken-down pontoons, subsequent back-ups at the border where in theory roughly 150 trucks should be ferried daily but only about 50 make it across.

With all this being said it is still questioned as to why the newly built Kazangula bridge is not operational.

Potential investors for Zisco, two Chinese steel companies as well as state-owned Tisco are in premilitary talks about the revival of Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company.

Zisco (Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company) was once Africa’s largest steel works, Zisco stopped all operations in 2008 due to lack of funding and mismanagement.

Zisco is currently owned by the Chinese government.

It is also noted that there are another four companies looking at investing in Zisco.

Blanket mine a true survivor, more than a century later, Blanket is still going strong with +1 Moz having been produced over its life from both fresh ore and tailings.

Over the past several years Blanket mine has steadily upped production from around 42 000 oz in 2015 to approximately 54 000 oz in 2019 and have now set their sights on producing around 80 000 ozpa from 2022 onwards.

In order to secure Blanket’s long-term future and to allow the mine to reach the 80 000 ozpa target, Caledonia is currently busy with its Central Shaft project, which is effectively creating a new mine below the current workings. Work on the four-compartment shaft, which extends from surface to 1 200 m underground, started in 2015 and the shaft sinking phase was completed in July 2019.

Work on equipping the shaft started in early January 2020 with the installation of pipes from surface to shaft bottom. The equipping has continued to progress steadily since then but due to travel restrictions caused by COVID-19, the project’s completion originally scheduled for late 2020 could be delayed further.

Remarkably, given that shaft sinking is a highly specialised discipline, Caledonia has carried out much of the work on the Central Shaft project in house moreover, it has funded the shaft itself which has so far cost over US$60 million by relying entirely from internal cash flows.

Caledonia has also raised the required funds to invest in the construction of a solar power plant to supply electricity to the Blanket Mine.

Zambia achieves record copper production, Zambia produced 882,061 tonnes of copper in 2020, up 10.8% from 796,430 tonnes produced in 2019.

Africa’s second largest copper producer aims to produce more than 900,000 tonnes of copper in 2021, and has a long-term goal of exceeding one-million tonnes in annual production.

A worldwide shift to electric cars, which use much more copper than cars using traditional combustion engines, is expected to boost production of the metal.

However, Zambia’s cobalt production fell 21.8% in 2020, to 287 tonnes from the 367 tonnes produced in the previous year. The drop has been blamed on the reduced cobalt mineralisation and operational challenges at Konkola Copper Mine.

Gold production also fell to 3,579 kg in 2020 from 3,913 kg in 2019 as ore grades at the Kansanshi mine declined.

Nickel production more than doubled to 5,712 tonnes in 2020 from 2,500 tonnes in 2019, thanks to the restructuring and streamlining of nickel operations which helped drive production up.

Kamoa-Kakula sets production record, Ivanhoe mines achieved a production record in February at the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project in the DRC.

The 339,000 tonnes mined and stockpiled in February had an average ore grading of 5.5%, this included 47,300 tonnes grading 4.62% copper from the Kansoko Mine, establishing a new monthly production record at Kansoko.

The overall tonnage also included 107,000 tonnes grading 9.01% copper from the high-grade centre of the Kakula Mine.

Kamoa-Kakula is on track to have more than three million tonnes of high-grade and medium-grade ore stockpiled on surface, holding more than 125,000 tonnes of contained copper, prior to the planned start of processing in July 2021.

Ivanhoe believe the potential for sustained higher copper prices further improves the outstanding economics of the project.

ISS Terrorists strike again, Islamist terrorists have murdered four people in the Quionga administrative post, in Palma district, in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado.

The attack occurred on Friday night 19 February. In addition to the murders, the raiders looted foodstuffs and burnt down houses, including the residence of the head of the administrative post.

Sources say the same group tried to return the following night but they were driven back because by that time the Mozambican defence and security forces had sent units to Quionga.

 

“Those who accomplish great things pay attention to the little ones”

Trade Winds bimonthly update volume 29

No steel increase for now…  A breather at last for the steel sector in South Africa as so far there are no confirmed increases for the 1st of March, however there is another issue as Eskom, South Africa’s sole electricity producer has just announced a tariff hike in excess of 15%. This is going to shoot labour costs through the roof and in turn have a ripple effect of increases down the line.

The country continues to battle with a steel shortage with no silver lining yet, there has been positive reports over the past few weeks that levels are expected to increase mid-year however currently the country is battling to cope with the local and export demand.

Mid this week there was an explosion at Arcelormittal’s Vanderbijlpark mill where unfortunately three workers lost their lives as part of a stack of coke batteries reaching 90 meters collapsed and fell on the workers.

Notice has come out this morning that due to this incident, production will be affected on thinner gauge material, namely coil from 1.60mm – 4.0mm which in turn effects the production of tube, pipe, sheets, roof sheets and lipped channels. It is also noted that the current steel shortage is most likely to continue until mid-2021 with consecutive steel increases on the books.

Word from our suppliers in China who have returned from their New Year festivities this week, is that Hot Rolled prices continue to increase which will impact on prices around the world.  Some mills have delayed re-opening whilst new prices are prepared, whilst others are insisting on confirming orders first and then agreeing on a price!  There are indeed very uncertain times ahead.

SA opens Beitbridge but Zim lockdown still in place, South Africa may have reopened its biggest land borders on Monday 15 January, but Zimbabwe’s decision to extend its lockdown for another two weeks prohibits travel between the neighbouring countries through the Beitbridge border post.

Beitbridge is a major border post which connects South Africa and Zimbabwe and processes thousands of commuters every single day. It’s normally the busiest land port in Southern Africa, but for more than a month, it’s only serviced cargo and nationals with government-endorsed travel exemptions.

Amid growing concerns of a second wave of Covid-19 infections, Zimbabwe returned to hard lockdown at the start of 2021. This included the closure of all non-essential businesses, a strict curfew and the closure of all land borders with exemptions for returning residents and commercial freight. South Africa, suffering from its own second wave closed off all land borders on 11 January where only returning residents, departing foreign nationals, and commercial cargo could pass through Beitbridge during this period.

On Monday 15 January 2021, South Africa reopened 20 border points of entry for travel, after implementing new regulations to curb congestion.

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has hiked its bank policy rate, from 35 to 40 percent, as part of new policy measures announced yesterday to buttress the prevailing economic stability.

This comes as the bank said the economy was poised for strong growth in the short to medium term, amid stable exchange rate and low inflation.

Apart from raising the bank policy rate to 40 percent per annum, the central bank also hiked the medium-term lending rate for productive sectors from 25 to 30 percent per annum.

The Central bank also increased cash withdrawal limits to 2 000 Zimbabwe dollars for individuals and maintained the current limits on mobile banking transactions at 5 000 Zimbabwe dollars per transaction, which has been aggregated to 35 000 Zimbabwe dollars per week.

The apex bank also increased statutory reserves from 2,5 percent to 5 percent for demand and/or call deposits and maintained the rate at 2,5 percent for time deposits. The variation of statutory reserves by maturity is expected to incentivise banks to hold long-term liabilities or time deposits for long-term lending in the medium-term.

“The reserve money target of 22,5 percent is consistent with the targeted end of year inflation of below 10 percent and projected 7,4 percent economic growth rate of the economy,” the governor said.

The African continent on Tuesday carved its own piece of history when Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was elected to lead the World Trade Organisation, as its director-general.

She becomes the first woman and the first African to lead this 164-member organisation in the 73 years of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which later transformed to the World Trade Organisation.

A former Nigerian finance minister and World Bank veteran, Okonjo-Iweala shrugged off stiff competition from seven other candidates to lead the global trade body, which had gone for seven months without a leader.

Sibanye-Stillwater’s profits soar, the free cash flow of precious metals company Sibanye-Stillwater rocketed to within a hair’s breadth of R20-billion in the second half of last year.

The Johannesburg and New York listed company reported a sky-high profit rise to R29.3-billion for the six months, up from R62-million in the previous year of 2019. Despite Covid-19, the group delivered a record financial performance and made notable progress towards delivery on many strategic targets.

The company is set to gain a R6.8 billion investment which is expected to create around 7,000 much needed jobs for South Africa.

Tanzania’s gold sector ready for giant leap, construction of gold refining machinery worth 8.9 billion in Mwanza with a capacity to process over 480 kilogrammes per day and can be extended to 960 Kgs per day is complete.

Mwanza Precious Metals Refinery Ltd., which is a joint venture of State Mining Corporation (STAMICO), Dubai-based Rozella Genera Trading LLC and ACME Consultant Engineers PTE Ltd. of Singapore, will be one of the best state-of-the-art gold refineries.

STAMICO Acting Managing Director Dr Venance Mwasse told Minister for Minerals Mr Dotto Biteko on Monday that the refinery plant, the first among three gold refineries currently under construction in the country, was set to be in operation the following month.

The plant ranks number 3 in Africa in terms of processing capacity.

The mineral will be processed there, meaning that no exportation of raw minerals. It will increase the country’s revenue and create over 120 direct employments to Tanzanians.

The project cost of US$58 million, which covered investment, running cost and purchase of gold for the initial ten-days when the refinery starts. Construction started in March 2020.

Vedanta warns off asset pickers, Vedanta Resources has warned potential buyers of assets held in its 85%-owned KCM that any corporate activity would be deemed inappropriate and that it would seek to protect its interests in Zambia and internationally. The Indian owned firm’s comments come as the provisional liquidator appointed by the Zambian government, progresses a plan to split the assets which consists of mining and processing facilities ahead of selling them to third parties.

The Zambian government has through its ZCCM-Investments Holdings company which holds a 15% stake in KCM, has forbidden Vedanta access to KCM’s assets arguing that the group failed to meet investment promises.

Vedanta has contested the matter in the Zambian and South African courts.

As gold prices soared, Barrick counted profits, Mining giants Barrick Gold reported a quarterly profit on Thursday that beat the analysts’ estimates, aided by the jump in gold prices due to coronavirus-induced economic uncertainty. The company’s US-listed shares were up 2.4%.

Gold prices touched record highs in 2020, as investors flocked to what is known as the safe-haven asset while the Covid-19 pandemic mauled the global economy.

In the fourth quarter, market prices averaged $1 875/oz, a staggering 26.4% higher than a year earlier. Barrick said its all-in sustaining costs for the reported quarter rose to $929/oz from $923/oz last year.

For 2021, the company expects the sustaining costs to be between $970/oz and $1 020/oz, compared with $967 in the previous year and they are anticipating full-year production to be between 4.4-million and 4.7-million ounces, compared with 4.8-million ounces produced in the previous year.

The miner also expects a jump copper production this year to be in the region of 410 to 460-million pounds this year as compared with production of 457-million pounds last year.

 

 

“A person with too much ambition cannot sleep in peace”

Trade Winds bimonthly update volume 28

Steel shortages continue!  The steel shortage in South Africa continues with rumours spreading that by mid year the sector should start to see an increase in steel levels as Mittal’s furnaces start to reach full capacity.

There is yet another steel price increase looming for the month of March totalling 8 consecutive steel increases over the past year into 2021 excluding December 2020.

ArcelorMittal SA announced last week that it will ramp up the production at its Vereeniging operation from half to full capacity, which is a direct response to a sudden increase in demand within South Africa and African overland markets.

The billet produced at the Vereeniging mill will be used for specialty input material to its Gauteng operations and various other mills across the country. It is expected to reduce the production demand from the Newcastle operation, which in turn will ensure more steel can be supplied to its long steel customers.

There is a base tariff protection on flat and long steel imports into South Africa of 10% and certain flat products are also subject to safeguard duty of 8%, which results in overall protection of 18% on certain grades.

Now with the hospitals requiring oxygen for COVID patients, this has thrown a spanner into the works for the steel sector, oxygen is in such short supply in South Africa that some companies are paying 30 times the usual going rate to keep critical equipment going and projects on track.

Companies with critical equipment that require oxygen were stretching what they have and rationing where necessary, in one case paying R4,000 for a bottle, compared to a usual price of R140.

Both Afrox and Air Liquide issued for majeure notices to customers in the face of what they said was a clear ethical and moral duty to prioritise supplies.

Industrial users have accepted that need, but say they hope to talk to suppliers about future supply crunches.

Livingstone closure sparks outcry, there’s been an uproar from opposition ranks of cross-border transporters ever since Zambia’s Road Development Agency decided to prevent road hauliers from using the Livingstone-Vic Falls border with Zimbabwe from March 1, as decision that has been on the cards for some time.

The reason for this decision is that the Zambian government feels that due to the bridge being a single lane carriage-way it’s affecting tourism in a negative way as most of the vehicles crossing are for road freight, which has been on the increase.

Essentially it means logistic operators into the Copperbelt in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo will have to cross the Zambezi at Kazungula, a treacherous ferry transit which is sparking concern from transporters as there has been cases in the past where trucks have slipped off the ferry due to safety measures not being followed. The decision is also particularly bad for hauliers based in Zimbabwe sending shipments to the Copperbelt.

The secret of Kazangula, months after the much-hyped Kazungula Bridge across Zambia’s touch-point with Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia’s Caprivi Strip was finalised, transporters are nowhere near knowing when the bridge will be handed over to the respective road authorities for use.

Word on the ground has been that the opening could be any day now, since the bridge’s lights were turned on in September last year, as if to signal that southern African logistics could be in for an early Christmas surprise but still to now, there is no concrete evidence as to when the bridge will be open for use.

There has been speculation that the necessary bilateral agreements between Botswana and Zambia haven’t been signed yet.

Its time the bridge is opened now especially since the announcement of the closure of Livingstone-Vic falls, this will aid in goods moving smoothly both north and south as well as faster turnaround times as transporters won’t have to deal with the ferry system.

Vedanta denied halt of KCM split, A Zambian court on Monday dismissed a motion by miner Vedanta Resources’ seeking to stop a state-appointed provisional liquidator from splitting up its Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) unit and selling the assets.

Vedanta has been in an ongoing dispute with the Zambian government since May 2019, when the Zambian government, which owns 20% of KCM through state mining investment firm ZCCM-IH, handed control of the mine to a liquidator.

Vedanta said the plan to split KCM is illegal, and would result in a substantial loss in revenue for Zambia.

In an announcement in December, President Edgar Lungu said KCM would be split into two subsidiary companies, KCM SmelterCo Ltd and Konkola Mineral Resources Ltd, which would be effective 1 February 2021.

While the split was delayed by Vedanta’s injunction order, it is noted that the two entities are expected to begin to operate soon.

Tanzanian assets revived, Barrick Gold reported last week that it had successfully revived its North Mara and Bulyanhulu gold mines in Tanzania with North Mara having significant improvements and underground production being restarted at Bulyanhulu.

Both mines produced close to the top of their production guidance in 2020 under Barrick’s first full year. The Tanzanian operations delivered a combined output of 462,472 ounces for the year.

During the fourth quarter, North Mara posted a record throughput while Bulyanhulu recommenced processing of underground ore, Bulyanhulu is scheduled to be in full production during the first half of 2021.

Barrick assumed control of these assets after re-acquiring Acacia Mining in September 2019. The company is now managing the mines.

Barrick is currently optimizing a 10-year plan to make the combined North Mara and Bulyanhulu mines its seventh tier-one asset by bringing them into the lower half of the industry’s cost curve. At the same time, the company continues to work on improving relations with its host communities.

Zimbabwe scraps indigenisation law, last week miners in Zimbabwe were worrying over an amendment to ownership laws that seemingly reintroduce the country’s controversial laws which were previously scrapped in 2018. The change in laws back then paved the way for foreign owned entities to rightfully hold up to 100% ownership of a mine.

However, the wording of this amendment was unequivocally flawed, leaving it very much open to interpretation. In a joint statement issued by the ministries of finance and mines it was claimed that “last weeks’ notice may have caused some misconception to some inventors and other stakeholders in the mining sector”

Coincidentally, whilst this has captivated the attention of many, it has come to light that the Zimbabwean government has granted mining entity Great Dyke Investments a five-year tax exemption. In a notice, deemed to have come into effect from 1 January 2020, it is stated that “the receipts and accruals of Great Dyke Investments (Private) Limited, as per the Special Mining Lease Agreement signed between the Government of Zimbabwe and Great Dyke Investments (Private) Limited are approved”.

Nigeria to aid Mozambique in terrorism fight, Nigeria has offered to support Mozambique in its fight against Islamist insurgents in the gas-rich northern province of Cabo Delgado. Nigeria joins a list of numerous African and international countries offering aid to the terrorism rife region.

More than 2,000 people have been killed and more than 500,000 others displaced in the violence, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

It is said that Nigeria is ready to share its experience of fighting Islamist militants and provide support to Mozambique. But observers will question whether it’s best placed to offer advice, given the continued insecurity in Nigeria.

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi urged the defence and security forces to fight hard against terrorists in the province of Cabo Delgado and against the Renamo Military Junta in central Mozambique.

Nyusi also urged those who have joined terrorist organizations and armed rebel groups to surrender, disarm, demobilize and reintegrate into the society.

Happy New Year! Abeyla Exports would like to wish our Chinese customers a happy new year with many blessings for the year ahead!

 

“Knowledge without wisdom is like water in the sand”

Trade Winds bimonthly update volume 27

Steel increase! as of last week Friday ArcelorMittal and other major mills in South Africa announced a further price hike in the region of 5% for February with further impending increases as the year goes on. This is putting an unbelievable amount of pressure on the steel sector in South Africa, coupled with the latest indefinite load shedding schedule, manufacturing, distribution and logistics have become a nightmare for all involved.

South Africa’s economy faces challenges, the decline in manufacturing production growth in November last year is a clear indication that South Africa’s economy is in for a rough ride to recovery, especially under the current adjusted level 3 Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

It is noted that production declined by -3.5% year on year in November 2020, and at the same time also declined -1.3% month on month from October 2020, down from a growth of 3.2% from September 2020 to October 2020.

“The manufacturing sector remains key to the growth and development of South Africa due to its spill-over effect into other sectors of the economy such as the construction sector, especially through the Metals and Engineering (M&E) sector, which remains the major supplier of crucial inputs such as steel,” said Seifsa chief economist Chifipa Mhango. “The data released suggest a worsening trend following a slower decline in the previous months,” he added.

Record gold production achieved! Gold producers Caledonia Mining Corporation produced a record 57 899 oz of gold from the Blanket Mine in Zimbabwe during 2020 with an approximate of 15 012 oz of gold produced during the fourth quarter of 2020.

2020 is a record year for Caledonia who are also on track for the commissioning of Central Shaft to be completed in the first quarter of 2021.

In December Caledonia also announced that they had entered into option agreements on two properties in Zimbabwe, delivering on their strategy of organic growth whilst increasing the dividend for a fourth time at the start of January to 11 cents a share

It seems that the sky is the limit for Caledonia at the moment and their plans are paying of whilst also creating genuine value and returns for their shareholders

Zambian government claims Glencore stake, Zambia’s state mining investment arm ZCCM-IH has agreed to buy Glencore’s majority stake in Mopani Copper Mines in a $1.5 billion deal funded by debt and will seek a new investor, the government said earlier this week.

The sale follows Glencore’s attempt to suspend operations at the mine last year due to the low copper prices and COVID-19 disruptions which then prompted a government threat to revoke the company’s mining licences.

The takeover coincides with Zambia’s preparations for elections in August, with President Edgar Lungu courting voters in the copper belt. More than 15,000 workers would have lost their jobs if the mine was closed.

Glencore will continue to control buying rights for Mopani’s copper output until the transaction debt has been repaid which will be paid by giving Glencore creditors 3% of Mopani’s gross revenue from 2021-2023 and 10-17.5% of Mopani’s gross revenue from then on.

The country will have to attract new investors, it is said that companies from Britain, Canada, China, South Africa, Turkey and Qatar have expressed interest.

Political violence stops cargo movement, Cross-border movement in both directions through the Copperbelt crossing of Kasumbalesa between Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo has ground to a halt because of political unrest.

Protest flared up in the town of Kasumbalesa north of the border which unfortunately effected the flow of freight through the border.

A crucial transit on the North-South Line into the DRC’s copper mining areas in Haut-Katanga province, Kasumbalesa has been quiet and free-flowing over the last few months.

Challenges in the past have regularly caused congestion at the border however the events earlier this week represent the first time in months that Kasumbalesa, rather than other NSL crossings like Chirundu and Beitbridge, has led to cargo on the NSL coming to a halt.

Port of Beira shuts shop as storm Eloise approaches, The Port of Beira is taking no chances as storm Eloise spins in a south-easterly direction towards the coastline of Mozambique, although the eye of the storm was expected to pass south of the port and make landfall today in the vicinity of Vilankulos which is roughly 500 kilometres south of Beira, the latest update is showing that the storm is going to hit the port directly.

The last time the city of Beira had to contend with a severe weather event was in March 2019 when Idai cut a path across the old city, these days the focal point of intensified reinvestment as Mozambique positions its ports for ramped-up logistics.

The SA Weather Service has warned that the cyclone, much like Idai, will increase in intensity as it makes its way across the channel’s warmer water with an anticipated speed of 166-213 kilometres an hour by the time it hits the coast.

From there it’s expected to make its way across Mozambique’s provinces of Inhambane, Gaza and Maputo further inland.

Authorities in South Africa’s provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga have been on high alert, with rain and extreme wind predicted despite Eloise expectedly losing force the further it moves into the interior. 

Calls for the US and France to assist, African Energy Chamber chief executive NJ Ayuk is appealing to the United States and France to intervene in the insurrectionist violence currently threatening resource exploration in Mozambique.

Such a move is crucial not only to protect the liquid natural gas interests of ExxonMobil, the US multinational petroleum company involved in Cabo Delgado province, but also to secure the continent’s energy prospects.

There has also been appeals to France to do the same on behalf of Total, the other major multinational that has invested billions in Mozambique’s LNG fields south of its Rovuma Basin border with Tanzania.

Government leaders will need to reach out to militant groups and begin a confidence- and trust-building process that will hopefully lead up to a mutual ceasefire agreement.

In this respect, US and French diplomatic involvement could prove fundamentally important in defusing the powder keg situation in Cabo Delgado.

2021 will be “the decisive year” for defeating terrorism in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado, according to the newly elected Maj-Gen Eugenio Mussa.

He called on Mozambican troops to act rigorously, to wipe out definitively the armed groups that have been terrorising several Cabo Delgado districts since October 2017.

French owned Tota has ordered a temporary evacuation of some of its workers from the Afungi Peninsula, an area which has experienced one of the most recent attacks by the insurgents.

 

 

“Don’t set sail on someone else’s star”

Trade Winds bimonthly update volume 26

Border updates, chaos had once again returned to the Beitbridge border post over the festive period, from what seemed to be been a victory leading up to the December month turned south very fast as queues of up to 35kms were experienced at a stage, the lifting of COVID testing for drivers going north and the failure of system implementations all added to this, on the flipside, drivers coming south into South Africa also faced problems when the South African Department of Health demanded that all inbound travellers were to be tested for COVID which lead to around 2000 trucks being detained at Beitbridge, this also created fears of health risks to travellers and residents within the Beitbridge area.

This past week there has been concern for possible super spreader events as thousands of people have been stuck on the Zim side waiting to enter South Africa, most not wearing masks and not adhering to social distancing measures, this issue arose when authorities in Harare announced that only Zimbabweans with South African permits would be allowed to cross the Limpopo heading south.

Delays continue further to the east at the Ressano Garcia border between Mozambique and South Africa which has resulted in trucks and other vehicles queueing three lanes abreast for at least 10 kilometres. The delays are starting to become so bad that Mozambique yesterday requested clearing agents and customs authorities at Lebombo Border Post not to let anyone through.

It seems that South African truck drivers have been denied access into Angola, however the Angolan government is denying this.

This emerged after a high-ranking official from Namibia’s hinterland logistics sector confirmed that at least three senior officials from the Trans-Cunene Corridor had told him that trucks entering Angola must be driven by Namibian drivers. According to an Angolan official, this is untrue and the only request that they have is that drivers must present the RT-PCR test of the country of origin, however the TCC emphasised that if this coronavirus testing measure was negative, all truck drivers were allowed to proceed to their destinations as per international transit protocol.

Level 4, Zimbabwe entered level 4 lockdown on Tuesday for a period of 30 days which restricts the country’s movement to almost a standstill, inter city travel is prohibited unless you are an essential worker and only the mining, agriculture and manufacturing sectors are currently allowed to operate. It is also noted that only Zimbabwean citizens are allowed to enter the country.

The South African government is also currently in council where rumours are rising that South Africa itself will be entering a harder lockdown, this comes after the country entered level 3 on the 30th of December last year which was expected to only last two weeks, however there has been an emergency meeting called and the citizens now await the verdict, roadblocks have been setup on provincial borders this week adding to the rumours that a harder lockdown will be put in place.

Caledonia to enter further exploration, Caledonia can gain exclusive rights to explore and subsequently, if exploration is successful and at its sole discretion, acquire the mining claims over an area known as Connemara North, a property which, like Glen Hume, is situated in the Gweru mining district in the Zimbabwe Midlands that has historically produced significant quantities of gold.

Connemara North is approximately 30 km from Glen Hume with good road access between them offering the potential of operating in synergy should Caledonia decide to develop both areas.

It has not been commercially mined since 2001 before being placed on care and maintenance. Connemara mine produced approximately 20 000 ounces of gold per annum from an open pit heap leach operation. Originally in 2001 First Quantum indicated that they had plans to expand the existing open pit operations at Connemara mine but this never materialised.

The option gives Caledonia the right to explore the area for a period of up to 18 months.

Kuvimba seeks $1 billion for acquisitions, Kuvimba Mining House Ltd., in which the Zimbabwean government is the majority stake holder at 65%, will invest an incredible amount of the cash raised on the Darwendale platinum project, which belongs to its Great Dyke Investments unit. Kuvimba is held by government pension funds and Zimbabwe’s sovereign wealth fund.

It is believed that around $100 million will be set aside for acquisitions and capital expenditure over the next 12 months.

The group, whose portfolio includes gold, nickel and platinum, will raise part of the money internally through its operations, it will also issue debt. Kuvimba has three working gold mines producing about 300 kg of the metal each month and owns a nickel mine with monthly output of 550 tonnes.

The company is finalizing negotiations to acquire Metallon Gold Zimbabwe Ltd.’s Mazwoe mine. It is looking at other assets such as lithium, nickel and copper and further exploration into Africa.

Zambian court orders liquidator to stay, A Zambian court has ruled the state-appointed liquidator of Vedanta’s Konkola Copper Mines will not be discharged despite a November ruling ordering a halt to proceedings to allow Vedanta and minority KCM shareholder ZCCM-IH to pursue arbitration.

The government accused Vedanta of failing to honour licence conditions, including promised investment. The liquidator has since said he intends to split the company, with possible asset sales to follow.

In a statement after the ruling, KCM provisional liquidator Milingo Lungu said his powers were valid. He said he would split KCM into two companies effective Jan. 31, and that asset disposal was likely KCM’s only remaining option.

Given the impasse between stake holders and government  it is unclear whether any keen consumers might be discovered.

International Legal opinion maintains that there would be no way a provisional liquidator could commence with disposing of KCM assets because anybody buying them would effectively be acquiring tainted property and would therefore be party to an unlawful act.

Copper growth in Africa expected to grow!  Demand in China is remaining especially strong as it moves out of the crises towards full normalization of all economic activities.  Prices have rallied and surged in part attributed to the various disruptions from top producer Chile.

Long term outlook remains positive and demand set to increase with investments in electric vehicles and renewal energy as well as infrastructure projects particularly being driven in China.  Prices are also being pushed up by grade decline, rising input costs, water constraints and high-quality development opportunities becoming scarce.  These factors will continue to push prices up as well as motivate miners to improve their margins by introducing better efficiencies.

New SA trade agreements!  Friday marked the start of trade for South African firms under two new trade agreements, the Trade and Industry and Competition Department said. These agreements are with countries ready to trade under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and with the United Kingdom following Brexit.

South Africa had put in place the legal and administrative processes for the start of trade under the AfCFTA on January 1, 2021 following a decision to start trading under the AfCFTA by the 13th extraordinary session of the assembly on the AfCFTA on December 5, 2020.

The AfCFTA agreement which was signed by 54 of the 55 African Union member states consisting of 34 countries had already given their approval to the AU Commission and became state parties, the parties include Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

In addition, trade for local firms with the UK commenced on Friday under the new economic partnership agreement between six southern African countries which include South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique replacing the European Union partnership terms for the UK market that was in place until December 31, 2020.

The UK agreement effectively retained the terms of trade in the existing EU agreement and would govern the bilateral trading relationship between each of the Southern African countries

SADC must tackle Mozambique’s terrorism!! Up to now, Mozambique has only requested SADC to provide military supplies, as Maputo resists any kind of external support that may lead to multilateral foreign intervention.

This is not a crisis that one country can solve alone; the Institute of Security Studies noted.

President Nyusi announced his intention to eradicate the violent extremists but his government has been unable to do so for the past three years and each passing day strengthens the extremist resilience and complicates the liberation of Cabo Delgado and the millions of Mozambicans at risk.

Although Mozambique had enlisted Russian and South African mercenaries to help fight the insurgency, no single SADC state has the military strength or financial capacity to intervene in Mozambique said the ISS.

United Nations has pledged to raise $254 million to assist terrorism-affected people in Mozambique. The plan will be deployed in 2021 and is expected to benefit 1.1 million people in the Cabo Delgado province and surrounding areas.

According to humanitarian bodies, the resources will be used to establish new camps for refugees and internally displaced persons.

In the meantime, Total SE has asked some staff to vacate its $20bn Mozambique liquefied natural gas (LNG) project with fighting reported to be less than 5km away from the plant.

The situation is grave and set to worsen with the terrorists taking control of transport links, terrorizing villagers and depopulating towns.  Urgent intervention is needed.

 

 

“The Earth is a beehive, we all enter by the same door”

Trade Winds bimonthly update volume 25

Steel price increase!  With the current steel woes South Africa is facing, there is a steel increase on the cards for January 2021, so far two major mills have announced an increase across the board of around 3-6% on all products whilst the industry anxiously awaits an announcement from ArcelorMittal.

So far the steel shortage situation remains the same as we eagerly await Mittal’s furnaces to fire back up early next year.

There are also concerns coming from the Manufacturing and Engineering sector that the possible 10% electricity hike for next year could be detrimental to the revival of the sector.

Border updates, there has been a complete U-turn at Beitbridge, following for the previous positive update, Beitbridge is once again bottlenecked.

The southbound queue of loaded and backhaul trucks heading out of Zimbabwe to South Africa is again being snagged by bottlenecking at the Beitbridge Border Post. Zimra has said that they are doing everything in their power to relieve the congestion. So far the northbound queue is clear.

South Africa’s Skilpadshek Border Post which is on the Trans-Kalahari Corridor (TKC) through Botswana continued to be affected by slow coronavirus testing procedures this morning. According to the Transit Assistance Bureau, the building backlog at the border stems from Botswana’s inability to cope with the testing of truck drivers for Covid-19.

A decision taken last month to not test drivers coming from South Africa who are in possession of a polymerise chain reaction (PCR) negative test result which is not older than 72 hours has not had the impact they thought it would have on easing congestion.

The notion that Botswana seems incapable of coping with capacity requirements for testing drivers not in possession of PCR results only serves to support criticism that the country’s inflexible Covid-19 testing regimes are impeding its strategic logistics position in the sub-Saharan region.

In the meantime, transporters using the TKC to get to Namibia are increasingly avoiding the corridor, preferring instead to bypass Botswana altogether which in turn has bottlenecked the Nakop Border post in Namibia.

Container rates soar, exports from South-East Asia have recovered fast from the COVID-19 pandemic however the shipping costs have climbed drastically.

This is due to a high demand and no supply as trade routes have been interrupted by the pandemic. Shipping lines are also taking advantage of this by using the peak season surcharge as a reason.

The cost of putting one container on a ship can cost in the region of $5,000.00 up from an average of $1,300.00 earlier this year.

It is expected that the current rates will continue into early to mid-next year.

Rio Completes Copper Project, Rio Tinto has completed the initial work on the Midnight Sun Mining’s Solwezi Licenses in Zambia.

After incurring project expenditures in excess of $3 million during the initial work phase, Rio will now proceed to the next stage of the agreement.Top of Form

This would allow the company to earn a 51% interest in the Solwezi licenses by spending a further $16 million on the project within four years, as well as by making cash payments to Midnight Sun.

The project is situated on the Zambia-Congo copper belt and is immediately adjacent to Africa’s largest copper mining complex, First Quantum’s Kansanshi mine.

Zambia in negotiations with IMF, Zambia has just begun negotiations for financial support from the International Monetary Fund. The IMF announced this in an official statement

This announcement comes at a time when the Zambian economy has been declining due to several years of crisis. Drought, difficulties in the mining sector, and rising debt had pushed the country to adopt austerity measures in recent years to cope with the situation. However, the covid-19 pandemic that has plagued global economic activity has contributed to the accelerated decline of the Southern African country’s economy.

Great Dyke Sells Stake, Great Dyke Investments who is planning to build Zimbabwe’s biggest platinum mine, has sold a 4.4% stake to Fossil Mines as Covid-19-disrupted fundraising for the venture.

Fossil, which is Zimbabwean owned, will invest $30m in the Darwendale project, through a combination of cash and services, including engineering, procurement and construction. That leaves Vi Holding and Zimbabwe’s Landela Mining Venture each with a 47.8% stake. The sale values Great Dyke Investments at $680m.

The covid-19 pandemic has delayed fundraising for the project, which was originally due to be completed in 2020. Financing of $665m is now expected to be finalised in the first quarter of 2021.

The Darwendale project has the potential to become one of the world’s biggest platinum mines and its development is central to the Zimbabwean government’s plans to reboot a collapsing economy.

Zimbabwe has the world’s third-largest platinum group metal reserves after SA and Russia.

Millions lost to illicit mining, Zimbabwe continues to lose millions of revenue in illicit gold mining, In Mazowe, 40 km outside the capital Harare, artisanal miners have broadened their search for gold ore as they continue digging the soil underground in some cases to over 50 metres deep. Some artisanal miners are receiving up to $40 per gram of gold.

According to government statistics, the bulk of the gold is extracted by artisanal and small-scale miners who are responsible for 63% of the recorded production. In most cases, the artisanal miners operate illegally and do not sell the mineral to the state-owned buyer.

Trucker violence on the down, following from the last report, it seems police and other law agencies have managed to clamp down on the truck attacks. Currently there has been no news of any attacks over the past week. Hopefully this will remain.

Kamoa-Kakula stockpile building up, Ivanhoe Mines has announced that underground development at the Kamoa-Kakula copper project, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, produced a combined 250 000 t of ore, grading 4.85% copper, in November.

The tonnage from the Kakula and Kansoko mines is 29% higher than the volumes achieved in the previous month whilst the grade of copper also increased month-on-month from 4.01% to 4.85%.

The project’s surface stockpiles now contain about 1.25-million tonnes of high-grade and medium-grade ore, which has an estimated grade of 3.75% copper and is on track to have around three million tonnes of high and medium grade ore stockpiled prior to the planned start of production in July 2021.

The Kamoa-Kakula’s first phase involves mining and milling 3.8 million tonnes of ore a year, whilst a concentrator that is expected to handle the same amount of volume is currently being built.

US Support counter-terrorism, The United States is not considering sending troops to Mozambique to combat the terrorist threat in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, but are willing to aid civilian counter-terrorism capabilities.

The United States wants to be Mozambique’s security partner of choice in strengthening border security and in strengthening its capacity to counter terrorist activity.

Terrorists in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado are apparently dying daily as the Mozambican police have managed to cut out their supply system. It is also noted that the defence force managed to block out an insurgent attack on Maputo as well as neighbouring cities.

There is also concern that the terrorists are using a port or aerodrome in Cabo Delgado to move drugs and guns into the country. However the Cabo Delgado coast and offshore islands are under the control of the Mozambican authorities

Earlier this week Islamist militants attacked and occupied a northern Mozambican village in their closest raid yet to a giant gas project. The assault came late Monday night on the village of Mute, some 20 kilometres from the Afungi peninsula which is the centre of a multi-billion-dollar scheme to build a liquefied natural gas plant in Cabo Delgado province.

The attackers targeted government soldiers in the village and torched homes.

The attack has raised concerns about security at the Afungi peninsula, where the French energy major Total and the United States’ Exxon Mobil are among the investors.

Air force reinforcements from Dyck Advisory Group have been deployed from Pemba to bolster up government troops seeking to retake Mute.

 

 

“However long the night may last, there will be a morning”

Trade Winds bimonthly update volume 24

Steel shortages continue!  South Africa’s steel woes continue with a bleak output on the horizon, capacity is at an all-time low with manufacturers and stockists battling to deliver and the continuous steel increases further damaging the sector.

The Steel Giants have put out notice of restructuring at its Newcastle facility expected to result in significant job losses of around 2,500 workers.

On a positive note, furnaces at Mittal’s two plants in South Africa are on schedule to be fired up early 2021.

Joining the band wagon, South Africa is imposing export taxes to either collect more revenue or modify the flow of goods across borders.

The Customs and Excise Duty Act has been amended to allow the minister of finance to impose an export duty whenever he sees it beneficial in the public interest. The amendment is expected to be effective March next year.

South Africa will also be introducing an export tax on scrap metal. There’s been talk about a 30% export tax on chrome and further export duties on iron ore as well as leather and maize. No implementation dates have been announced.

The export tax on Chrome has come as a shock and many of the domestic producers have frowned upon this and fear that this will backfire on the country.

Border updates, Beitbridge border post is now business as usual, little to no delays are being experienced currently.

Congestion at the crucial Chirundu Border Post between Zimbabwe and Zambia has been cleared following the bottlenecking of trucks on the northbound journey into the Copperbelt. The intermittent spike in volumes crossing the Zambezi at Chirundu was due to increased cargo coming through from the Port of Beira in Mozambique.

It was noted that the commodity coming from Mozambique was fuel. This was a result of the Zambian government deciding to issue a statutory instrument which ordered that 50% of freight in Zambia be reserved for local transporters, the country had found itself running short of essential cargo like fuel.

The Zambian government then set aside a three-week period that would allow other transporters to deliver fuel as the Petroleum Transporters Association of Zambia couldn’t keep up with volume requirements which in turn triggered a spike in cargo from the landlocked nation’s closest neighbouring port, Beira.

As cross-border road hauliers wait to hear from Zambia’s and Botswana’s transport authorities about when the completed Kazaungula bridge across the Zambezi will open, another truck has slipped off the pontoon into the mighty river’s depths.

It’s the second rig that has rolled off a ferry at the important crossing which is still served by three pontoons while the bridge, already finished in September, sits unused in the background.

It remains anyone’s guess as to why there’s such a holdup to open the bridge.

Trucker violence surges! on the night of 20th November 2020, 10 trucks were attacked and torched on the N3 in South Africa, this attack marks the single biggest attack on the country’s main supply route between Gauteng and the Port of Durban. Just a few days later another truck was attacked and earlier this week a truck driver was shot and burnt to death in his cabin, throughout the week there has been various attacks on trucks with the latest one coming just last night where a driver was shot at from both sides of his vehicle but luckily managed to flea just in time before his truck was torched.

The attacks are allegedly backed by the All Truck Driver Foundation (ATDF), a vigilante group opposed to foreign national truck drivers working in South Africa’s transport sector. ATDF has said that the attacks on transporters stem from employers in the sector allegedly favouring foreign nationals because they are paid less and are exploitable because many don’t hold valid work permits.

Earlier in the year ATDF threatened to embark on a strike that would cut off the Durban to Beitbridge corridor, however there was a court interdict and the protest never took place.

The Cross-Border Road Transport Agency (CBRTA) has added its voice to pleas that transporters consider not working at night, thereby hopefully diminishing the life-threatening situation in which truck drivers find themselves as the violence targeting South Africa’s freight industry drags into its sixth day.

Ducking and diving, Deputy Gauteng Police Commissioner, Major General Daniel Mthombeni, circumvented the issue as industry stakeholders demanded concrete action to address the growing insurrection in the road freight industry.

He told attendees at a meeting held in Alberton yesterday that arrests had been made earlier this week and called for the establishment of a forum. Members of the industry however made it clear that a few arrests were not enough.

Transport and security companies said that they were aware of the ‘hot spots’ and asked why police visibility in these high-risk areas was still so poor and why there weren’t any functioning cameras on major highways.

A security company representative said on many occasions he would call the police to ask if certain routes were safe but even the police were unsure most of time.

Great Dyke making progress, Great Dyke Investments who has been pinned as Zimbabwe’s next platinum giant is ahead of schedule in boosting Zimbabwe’s platinum exports by 2022. According to the mine’s chief operations officer, Mr. Munashe Shava, extraction which commenced earlier this year will tally with the company’s projections of exports by 2022.

The Great Dyke Investments mine in Darwendale which follows Zimplats and Unki mines and is one of the new investments is expected to help the country reach a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023.

GDI is 50 percent owned by Russia’s Vi Holding, and 50 percent owned by Zimbabwe’s Landela Mining Venture. The project has an excess of 180 million tonnes of ore containing 17 million ounces of platinum group metals and gold, with an average grade of 2,93 grammes per tonne.

The mine expects to start contributing to the country’s gross domestic product by 2022 although it has already contributed to the country’s fight against the Covid-19 where it supplied local health institutions with machinery and PPE.

DRC to formalise Artisanal Mining? EGC and Trafigura signed an offtake agreement in a bid to formalise artisanal and small-scale cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The trading agreement includes the provision of finance by Trafigura to fund the creation of strict, controlled artisanal mining zones, installation of ore purchasing stations as well as the costs related to the transparent and traceable delivery of cobalt hydroxide to Trafigura on an export cleared basis.

Under the supply terms, EGC will ensure that the ore marketed by Trafigura complies with OECD Due Diligence Guidance.

Earlier in the year Glencore made a U-Turn and also decided to back artisanal mining of cobalt. The group aims to end child labour in the cobalt mining sector and to improve the working conditions in Congo.

Almost three quarters of the world’s cobalt comes from Congo where Glencore owns two of the largest mines. Demand in cobalt is expected to surge in the coming years as the sales of electric-vehicles are said to take off.

Zambia’s copper output increases, Zambia who is Africa’s second-largest copper miner, produced 646,111 tonnes of the metal in the first nine months of 2020, up from 590,321 tonnes in the same period last year.

The Southern African nation now expects total production for the year to reach 820,000 tonnes, driven by rising copper prices.Bottom of Form

 

This comes as good news to Zambia, who is the first African country to default on a bond payment during the covid-19 pandemic by missing a $42.5 million interest payment on part of its international debt.

Zambia’s mining sector has been in the spotlight as the country’s financial situation deteriorated this year which prompted Glencore to shut its Mopani Copper Mines operation.

With that being said, the Zambian government has advised that negotiations with Glencore regarding increasing the government’s stake in Mopani were nearing a conclusion. No information has been given out about the size of the stake that state-owned ZCCM Investments Holdings is trying to acquire was given.

Tanzania to join in fighting terrorism!  Tanzania’s government says is teaming up with Mozambique to launch a joint operation against violent attacks by Islamist militants along their shared border.

Several recent attacks blamed on Islamist extremists have targeted the border village of Ktaya in Tanzania’s Mtwara region.

Police say more than 175 houses were set on fire and some people were killed by assailants, who, authorities say, fled into neighbouring Mozambique.

Tanzania has already increased security along the border and it is now joining forces with Mozambique to contain what it calls terrorists.

Some opposition parties and rights groups are raising concerns about how the Tanzanian government plans to tackle the threat.

Tanzania becomes the 4th country that has pledged their allegiance in fighting the terrorist scourge, Britain, Zimbabwe and South Africa have voiced their aid however we are not seeing any troops headed to Mozambique.

Some Zimbabwean citizens are concerned about soldiers going into Mozambique, fearing that, that would encourage terrorists to infiltrate their country.

 

 “For tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today”