Archive | Africa Mining

The Impact Of Covid-19 On The Mining Sector – by Shabir Ahmed ( – April 1, 2020)


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. At the time of writing there are over 400 000 confirmed cases across 194 countries. Even the most optimistic analysts expect a global recession.

Mining companies have been affected by COVID-19 outbreaks, and global restrictions to encourage social distancing have meant that mining projects have either slowed or been put on hold until further notice. There is no doubt that mining executives are beginning to feel nervous as the spread of the virus accelerates.

Share-prices of listed mining companies are in a downward spiral. Commodity prices across the industry have been tumbling as the industry considers the devastating aftershocks of this “Black Swan” event. To single out one example: platinum and palladium prices have dropped by more than 40% in just three weeks. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 2-South Africa lockdown squeezes global chrome supply – by Tanisha Heiberg and Helen Reid (Reuters U.S. – March 31, 2020)

JOHANNESBURG, March 31 (Reuters) – Samancor Chrome, one of the world’s biggest ferrochrome producers, has declared force majeure because of South Africa’s 21-day coronavirus lockdown, removing further supply from global chrome markets.

South Africa ordered all underground mines and furnaces be put on care and maintenance status from midnight on March 26 as part of its measures to contain the spread of the virus.

The country is the world’s biggest producer of chrome ore, an essential ingredient in stainless steel, and last year supplied 12.5 million tonnes to China – 83% of China’s total chrome imports. Continue Reading →

Covid-19 robs diamond sector of recovery hopes – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – April 1, 2020)

The rapidly-spreading coronavirus pandemic has quashed diamond miners’ dawning hopes of a recovery in a sector severely hit by weak prices and demand since late 2018.

The market began suffering from the effects of the covid-19 spread in early March and measures to contain it has already pushed De Beers, the world’s largest producer by value, to cancel its April sales event.

Russia’s Alrosa, the world’s No.1 producer by carats, is studying options for online trade as global travel restrictions make traditional physical inspection of gemstones almost impossible. Continue Reading →

Subsistence miners lose out as coronavirus crushes local gold prices – by Helen Reid and Jeff Lewis (Reuters U.S. – March 31, 2020)

JOHANNESBURG/TORONTO, March 31 (Reuters) – Informal gold miners from South America to Africa are selling gold at almost 40% discounts as measures to curb the coronavirus crimp supply routes and dry up funding.

Border restrictions and flight cancellations have created gold gluts in local markets, depressing prices for small-scale miners even as global prices are pushed back towards 7-year highs by investors piling into bullion as a safe-haven asset.

Artisanal miners – subsistence workers who typically use rudimentary techniques – number around 40 million worldwide, according to a 2019 estimate by Delve, an artisanal mining database. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 2-Top platinum miners declare force majeure after coronavirus lockdown – by Tanisha Heiberg and Zandi Shabalala (Reuters U.K. – March 30, 2020)

JOHANNESBURG/LONDON, March 30 (Reuters) – The world’s largest platinum producers Anglo American Platinum, Sibanye Stillwater and Impala Platinum have declared force majeure on contracts after a three-week national lockdown has forced operations to close.

South Africa, which accounts for around 70% of mined platinum, called the shutdown last week to to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. The measure triggered a downgrade by ratings agency Moody’s on Friday and will hit the country’s mining industry, which accounts for about 7% of GDP.

Miners have put many of their operations in care and maintenance and have reduced metal processing, while the coronavirus has also slowed demand from global car companies. Continue Reading →

Lucara’s Eira Thomas has a knack for finding huge diamond reserves. Now she want to disrupt the industry – by Alanna Mithell (Globe and Mail/ROB Magazine – March 27, 2020)

‘What started out as a treasure hunt is now much more about how we make a lasting contribution to the communities we are working with,’ the CEO and geologist says

Eira Thomas is on the run. The annual results for her company, Vancouver-based Lucara Diamond Corp., are coming out in 11 days, and as its co-founder and chief executive, she is prepping for a round of board meetings and earnings presentations, including dashes to both Florida and Toronto for mining conferences.

Before that, she’s heading from her home in England to Morocco on a half-term school break with her two daughters. Plus, she’s experiencing such wretched technical glitches that she missed a Skype interview yesterday and had to rebook. Today, she apologetically comes on 24 minutes late, something so uncharacteristic that her personal assistant, who is in Zurich, has begun to worry. Life is a little frenetic, Thomas confesses.

Yet, when I ask her why diamonds hold such an allure, all of a sudden, the busy executive life seems to vanish. She savours her answer—and when it comes, it’s unexpected. Yes, there’s the thrill of the hunt. But she is a geologist, and so within the diamond she also reads the violent secrets of the inner Earth that created it billions of years ago, when the planet was much younger. Continue Reading →

South Africa: Mining industry is about to come to a standstill – by Felix Njini and Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg/Moneyweb – March 24, 2020)

South Africa’s iconic mines, from the ever-deepening gold shafts on which the economy was founded to massive iron ore pits and rich platinum seams, are about to go silent.

From midnight Thursday, all but a few coal operations needed to fuel the country’s power stations are expected to be included in a nationwide lockdown aimed at containing the coronavirus. The sweeping shutdown is unprecedented in the 150-year history of South Africa’s mining industry, which today employs more than 450 000 people.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is moving quickly to curb the virus spread as infections threaten to spiral out of control in a country with an already strained health system and rampant unemployment. The army will help police to enforce the lockdown, with grocers, pharmacies, banks, filling stations and other essential services allowed to remain open. Continue Reading →

Britain’s Endeavour to acquire Montreal-based Semafo in $1-billion deal – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – March 24, 2020)

Britain’s Endeavour Mining Corp. plans to acquire Canadian gold miner Semafo Inc. in a friendly deal worth $1-billion as an increasing cadre of global mining companies pare back operations and conserve cash with the COVID-19 pandemic worsening.

West Africa-focused Endeavour has agreed to pay 0.1422 of its shares for each Semafo share, a 55-per-cent premium to Semafo’s closing price on Friday.

London-based Endeavour, whose main listing is on the Toronto Stock Exchange, operates gold mines in Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. Montreal-based Semafo’s main operations are in Burkina Faso, including its biggest mine, Boungou, which was idled late last year after a deadly terrorist attack. Continue Reading →

Democratic Republic of Congo locks down mining area, workers sent home over coronavirus – by Hereward Holland (Reuters U.S. – March 23, 2020)

KINSHASA (Reuters) – Democratic Republic of Congo imposed a two-day lockdown in part of its copper and cobalt heartland on Monday, as two of the country’s largest mines took steps to reduce staff levels in response to an accelerating coronavirus outbreak.

The governor of Haut-Katanga province, Jacques Kyabula, issued the lockdown order late on Sunday. He said the boundaries of the southeastern province, which is home to concessions owned by Ivanhoe, MMG Ltd and Chemaf, would also be closed after two people tested positive for the virus in the provincial capital, Lubumbashi.

However, Congo’s health minister said late on Monday that subsequent testing revealed the two, who had flown from the national capital Kinshasa on Sunday, were not infected, meaning there have not been any cases in the southeast. Continue Reading →

Endeavour stock slides, Semafo soars, after $1-billion buyout announced – by Dan Healing (BNN/Bloomberg/Canadian Press – March 23, 2020)

MONTREAL — A $1-billion deal to combine two Quebec companies with West African gold mining operations was met with sharply divergent reactions from their shareholders on Monday.

Stock in Montreal-based Endeavour Mining Corp. fell by as much as $4.15 or 19.2 per cent to $17.50 on the Toronto Stock Exchange after it announced the deal to acquire Semafo Inc. In contrast, Montreal-based Semafo rose by as much as 32 per cent or 64 cents to $2.63.

The acquisition includes Semafo’s Boungou gold mine in Burkina Faso which was shut down in November after gunmen attacked a bus convoy of 241 workers on the road to the operation, killing 39 people and injuring at least 60 others. Continue Reading →

Mining sector needs visionaries, revolutionaries – by Melissa Fourie ( – March 18, 2020)

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s mining industry finds itself in a perfect storm: disruption caused by state capture, a failing Eskom and an economy in recession, a global energy transition juggernaut, a climate emergency – and more recently, coronavirus.

Moreover, communities affected by the worst impacts of mining are increasingly organised, and not only calling for a complete overhaul of mining laws, but are winning the battle in court for the right to say no to mining.

Creating a vision for the future of mining that progresses human well-being and sustainability has to start with some honesty. Not delusional platitudes about a “sunrise industry”, but a frank acknowledgement of the industry’s contribution to the social and environmental crisis we find ourselves in today. Continue Reading →

World’s Biggest Precious Metal Industry Readies for Coronavirus – by Antony Sguazzin and Janice Kew (Bloomberg News – March 17, 2020)

(Bloomberg) — Platinum and gold mines in South Africa, which together make up the world’s biggest precious metals industry, are gearing up to try and minimize a local outbreak of the coronavirus that could disrupt operations where hundreds of thousands of people work in close proximity.

Companies including Anglo American Platinum Ltd. and Sibanye Stillwater Ltd. are preparing a range of measures, from checking the temperature of workers before they enter narrow elevators to descend up to 2.4 miles underground to encouraging employees to find out their HIV status. They’re also distributing flu shots and changing the way statutory medical examinations are done.

The platinum group metals industry employs about 164,000 people in South Africa. The gold industry, even though it’s in decline, has 95,000 workers. Together they generate about 200 billion rand ($12 billion) in sales annually and the metals are among the country’s biggest exports. Continue Reading →

Ambatovy ‘exit’ will not affect nickel, cobalt output in Madagascar, Sherritt says ( – March 10, 2020)

Sherritt International Corp is to exit the Ambatovy joint venture in Madagascar, but its decision will not affect nickel or cobalt production at the mine, the Canadian company confirmed to Fastmarkets on Tuesday March 10.

The Canadian miner announced on February 26, 2019 that it would not fund its 12% stake in the Ambatovy JV, with Japan’s Sumitomo Corp and South Korea’s Korea Resources Corp (Kores), to protect Sherritt’s balance sheet after Ambatovy made a cash call to boost its short-term liquidity. Sherritt subsequently announced that it had become a defaulting shareholder on March 6, 2019.

First refusal to fund Sherritt’s 12% share in Ambatovy will now pass to Sumitomo and Kores, while Sherritt itself will lose voting rights and influence on operations at a local level as per the terms of a default under the shareholders agreement. Continue Reading →

OPINION: Canadian mining companies better start behaving, thanks to Nevsun – by Richard Poplak (Globe and Mail – March 7, 2020)

Richard Poplak is a Canadian author and journalist based in Johannesburg. He is currently working on a book about the Canadian mining industry and is co-director of the forthcoming documentary, Influence.

When they hear the word “slavery,” most Canadians are likely reminded of the antebellum American South. But slavery – or, more accurately, the trafficking and selling of living human beings – is a 21st-century recession-proof growth industry. Across the world, organized syndicates and shady governments benefit from the unprecedented movement of people within and across borders.

Take, for instance, the secretive African redoubt of Eritrea, one of the major contributors to the Mediterranean migrant industrial complex. Among other things, its people are fleeing a non-existent economy compounded by compulsory military service that pays conscripts next to nothing, overseen by the continent’s most determinedly dour regime.

According to figures provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, almost 10 per cent of Eritrea’s 5.7 million people are on the run, and an astonishing 50,000 sought asylum abroad in 2017 alone. The country ranks behind China, and just ahead of North Korea, in terms of press freedom, while its per capita GDP is the third-worst in the world. As a result, Eritrea is entirely absent of the rule of law or humane governance. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 3-Anglo American Platinum shares slide after explosion forces shutdown – by Helen Reid (Reuters U.S. – March 6, 2020)

JOHANNESBURG, March 6 (Reuters) – South Africa’s Anglo American Platinum declared force majeure and cut its production outlook after an explosion led to a shutdown of processing facilities, sending its shares sharply lower and driving the price of platinum up.

Amplats, the world’s second-biggest platinum producer, cut its 2020 production guidance for platinum group metals (PGMs) by 900,000 ounces, from between 4.2 million and 4.7 million ounces to between 3.3 million and 3.8 million ounces.

The miner’s Johannesburg-listed shares closed down 14.3% and Anglo American, which owns 77% of Amplats, saw its London-listed shares fall 8.8%. Spot platinum prices rose on expectations of tighter supply and were up 2.9% by 1620 GMT. Continue Reading →