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Gold Street Is Where South Africa’s Mining History Goes to Die

SOUTH AFRICA (Bloomberg) - Miners laid off, mines closing, losses mounting—a huge headache for President Ramaphosa. The death rattle of the industry that once symbolized South Africa can be heard in the town of Carletonville—on Gold Street. That’s where Paseka Selemela has been guarding cars since 2010, when the scaffolding business he worked for closed. Prior to that, he was an assistant at a now-shuttered mine owned by AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. Nor has he found work in other gold mines around the town, home to the world’s deepest shafts. Many of his friends and family members also have joined the legions of the retrenched, including 8,500 people in the area last year alone. “These people can’t find jobs, just like me,” Selemela, 34, said under the winter sun, wearing a torn, dirty Chelsea soccer club shirt and jeans that hung loosely on his thin frame. “They try at the retailers, but there is nothing available there. They are employing fewer people because people are buying less. There’s no money.” Additional cuts are to come across mines and towns in South Africa, once the world’s biggest producer of gold. A volatile currency, uncertainty about regulations and demand, labor union tensions, harder-to-access ore, high operating costs and falling prices mean about half of gold and platinum operations are loss-making. More than 6 million people are unemployed and looking for work, taking the jobless rate to about 28 percent, a 15-year high. T
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South African Miners Say Free Carry Will Kill New Projects

SOUTH AFRICA (Bloomberg) - The biggest threat posed by South Africa’s new Mining Charter may be to mines that haven’t been dug yet. The draft rules, published Friday by Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe, lay out several requirements for new mining rights, including that nearby communities and employees each get a 5 percent free-carried interest in either the asset or the company that owns it. The charter is aimed at distributing the industry’s wealth more widely among South Africans to make up for racial discrimination during apartheid. New mines are already scarce in the country, which has been mined commercially for more than a century and where producers have struggled with rising costs, regulatory uncertainty and a restive labor force. The industry argues that the free carry -- which means the respective groups don’t have to buy their shares or pay their way -- will make new developments even less likely. “We consider much of the South African resource base to be in sunset,” analysts at Morgan Stanley including Brian Morgan wrote in a note received Monday. Many potential projects have marginal economics to begin with and “higher hurdle rates could equate to lower future mining investment,” they said. The free-carried interests for new mining rights are included in a mandatory 8 percent each to be held by workers and communities, while a further 14 percent must be owned by black entrepreneurs, according to the draft Mining Charter, which
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Almost half of deadly mine accidents in South Africa happened at Sibanye-Stillwater sites: Minister

SOUTH AFRICA (mining.com) - South Africa’s Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said on Sunday that 20 out of 45 mining deaths reported since the start of 2018 have taken place at Sibanye-Stillwater’s (JSE:SGL) (NYSE:SBGL) mining sites. At a press conference in Pretoria, Mantashe announced that the Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate is investigating and compiling a report on the precious metals producer with the idea of taking appropriate action. “Mining is not about rocks‚ it is about people. Once you lose that‚ you think that mining is about rocks‚ it’s about minerals‚ it’s about prices‚ then you have lost the plot … If you ignore human beings‚ you’ll have no mining,” he said. Earlier this week, five people died at Sibanye’s Kloof Ikamva gold project after they entered an abandoned section of the mine. This was just the latest in a series of fatal incidents at the companies' South African operations, which have generated concern in the government and an uproar from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, known as AMCU. Although it has acknowledged the accidents, the company says that AMCU only wants to hurt its reputation. Nevertheless, according to Minister Mantashe, fatalities in the gold mining industry seem to be on the rise in South Africa and there are growing worries about the proportion that take place at Sibanye’s operations. Mantashe’s pronouncement was made at a meeting aimed at discussing the
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South Africa proposes 5% black ownership in mining in mining firms

SOUTH AFRICA (Reuters) - South Africa plans to raise black ownership at permit-holding mining companies to 30 percent from 26 percent within five years, the latest draft of a hotly-contested new industry charter showed on Friday. The government and miners had been at loggerheads over a previous version of the charter, which the Chamber of Mines industry body slammed as confusing and a threat to South Africa’s image with investors. The new draft charter extends to five years from one year the time that existing mining permit holders will have to meet the new black ownership requirement. It also addresses a dispute over companies that were not recognised as having complied with black empowerment rules under the previous version of the charter, even when that was the result of a black investor selling shares. “Publishing of the Charter moves us a step forward in terms of ensuring regulatory and policy certainty for the industry,” mines minister Gwede Mantashe said in a statement. Agreeing a new version of the charter is seen as instrumental to securing further investment in the mining sector, which new President Cyril Ramaphosa has made a priority. The charter, published for public comment before being refined into law, is part of South African affirmative action rules that aim to reverse decades of exclusion under apartheid. A new addition to the latest charter is that at least 50 percent of the seats on mining company boards will have to be allocate
Demonstrators protest outside Megawatt Park, Sunninghill, June 14, 2018. Eskom workers are demanding a 15% salary increase while Eskom has decided to cut completely any increases for this year, saying they simply do not have the funds. Photo: Greg Roxburgh.

South Africa faces a very bleak winter of electricity discontent

SOUTH AFRICA (Sunday Times) - Demonstrators protest outside Megawatt Park, Sunninghill, June 14, 2018. Eskom workers are demanding a 15% salary increase while Eskom has decided to cut completely any increases for this year, saying they simply do not have the funds.  Image: Greg Roxburgh
Economists and energy experts have warned that a current protest by Eskom workers who are threatening a national electricity shutdown could have dire consequences for the country. Just the hint of a possible shutdown could negatively affect the economy. Eskom said the generation and distribution of electricity across its network was constrained owing to “acts of sabotage and intimidation” by trade union members‚ but the National Union of Metalworkers of SA and National Union of Mineworkers denied this. Meanwhile‚ electricity demand is set to spike this weekend as two cold fronts slam into the country‚ with temperatures set to plummet and gale-force winds and snow expected.
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Two killed in South Africa mosque attack

SOUTH AFRICA (news.com.au) - South African police say two worshippers have been stabbed to death in an attack on a mosque in Malmesbury, Western Cape. Two people have been stabbed to death at a mosque in South Africa's Malmesbury in the Western Cape before the attacker was shot dead by police. Thursday's attack comes a month after three knife-wielding men stormed a mosque north of Durban, killing one person and seriously injuring two others. Police said that incident showed "elements of extremism" but did not otherwise comment on the motive behind the attack in Malmesbury, a small farming town north of Cape Town. "Police were called out to a local mosque and found two people stabbed to death and several injured," the police said in a statement. "The suspect, believed to be in his thirties and armed with a knife, was still on the scene and charged at the police who tried to persuade him to hand himself over. He ignored the calls and tried to attack police. He was shot and killed in the process."
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SOUTH AFRICA’S BLACK ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT LAW TO EARN BLACK INVESTORS $1.3 BILLION

SOUTH AFRICA (Black Enterprise) - Vodacom Group, Africa’s second largest mobile communications company, will pay out approximately $1.3 billion to its black investors as part of the company’s participation in the black economic empowerment (BEE) effort, enforced by South African law. The company said on Monday that it had “entered into an agreement of up to R17.5 billion with its existing black economic empowerment (BEE) partners and a newly formed staff scheme” that will see the partners swap their current holdings in Vodacom South Africa for shares in its parent company, Vodacom Group. “Vodacom Group has agreed terms with Royal Bafokeng Holdings (RBH), Thebe Investment Corporation (Thebe), YeboYethu (existing BEE partners) and a newly formed staff scheme, whose combined interests will be consolidated into a new YeboYethu BEE structure that will own shares in Vodacom Group,” the company said in a news release. In the approximately $1.3 billion agreement, BEE partners will exchange their current holdings in Vodacom South Africa for a shareholding of between 5.8% and 6.25% in Vodacom Group, the company said.

WHAT EXACTLY IS BEE?:

After its transition from Apartheid in 1994, South Africa’s African National Congress government decided to address the inequalities of Apartheid by redistributing assets and opportunities to South African blacks, Coloreds and Indian citizens, not available to them under White rule. From South Africa’s o
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Three miners killed in accident at Sibanye gold mine in South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA (Reuters) - Three gold miners were killed in South Africa on Monday at a Sibanye-Stillwater plant and the company said rescue teams are searching for two others. At least 18 people have died at Sibanye’s South African mines this year including seven trapped underground at the Masakhane mine in May. Sibanye said five employees entered an abandoned working place at its Kloof Ikamva mine near Johannesburg and were killed in an incident the company is investigating. “We are not sure what happened,” spokesman James Wellsted said. CEO Neal Froneman has said seismic events are a fact of life at South African mines. “It seems that disasters have become the order of the day at Sibanye Stillwater and as NUM we are highly disturbed and angered by this,” National Union of Mineworkers said in a statement. “This is unacceptable.” Sibanye noted in a recent operational update that last month’s disaster was a concern for its investors and a factor behind a roughly 28 percent fall in its share price last month. In all, 88 people died in mines in South Africa in 2017 and 73 died the previous year. Prior to that, numbers of fatalities had fallen for nine years. The country has produced a third of all gold mined since records began. Safety matters for investors in South Africa’s gold industry. The country is home to some of the world’s deepest mines. Sibanye-Stillwater is South Africa’s biggest producer. The company also produces platinum a
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South Africa’s finance minister warns of challenges as rand tumbles

SOUTH AFRICA (Business Daily Africa) - The South African government is concerned by the rand’s plunge to its lowest this year and will step up a “defence mechanism”, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said, but he fell short of calling the currency’s dip a crisis. The rand dropped to 13.2875 against the dollar on Friday, its weakest since Dec. 18, Thomson Reuters data showed, as the country’s economy and slowed and global investors shied away from riskier assets. “Call it very challenging times. It then depends when you begin to call it a crisis,” Nene told the Sunday Times. “But these are very challenging times, and it’s for this reason that we can’t be complacent about it. We actually just need to step up our defence mechanism.” He did not say what measures South Africa could take. South Africa’s rand suffered last week when data showed the economy shrank by 2.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2018, with the most significant falls in agriculture, manufacturing and mining. At the same time, risk appetite among investors has eroded on speculation Europe’s massive monetary stimulus is nearing an end, compounded by uncertainty over trade relations before a meeting of G7 leaders. The rand had rallied when Cyril Ramaphosa seemed set to be elected leader of the ruling African National Congress in December. His election as state President in February, days after Jacob Zuma was forced out as leader by the ruling party, gave the currency ev
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How South Africa is tightening its tobacco rules

JOHANNESBURG (eNCA.com) - South Africa’s Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has published a new tobacco control bill which, if passed into law, will tighten the grip on how cigarettes and other tobacco products are sold, marketed and regulated in the country. The Conversation Africa's Health and Medicine Editor Candice Bailey asked Catherine Egbe about what it means for tobacco control. What’s significant about South Africa’s pending tobacco control legislation? There are five key areas of tobacco control that the new bill seeks to address: a smoke-free policy, plain or standardised cigarette packaging, regulating e-cigarettes, points of sale marketing, and removing cigarette vending machines. Some are addressed in South Africa’s current tobacco control law. But the country still doesn’t fully comply with the standards set by the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. South Africa signed the convention in 2005. Smoke-free public places is one example. The current law bans smoking in public places but allows for designated smoking areas in places like bars, taverns and restaurants provided that they do not take up more than 25 percent of the venue. The WHO’s convention calls for 100 percent smoke-free public places to protect non-smokers fully. In line with this, the new bill calls for a 100 percent ban on smoking in public places. It will also ban the advertising of cigarettes and other products at