Archive | Africa Mining

Trouble in the Congo: The Misadventures of Glencore – by Franz Wild, Vernon Silver and William Clowes (Bloomberg News – November 16, 2018)

What a time to own the world’s most valuable cobalt mine, and to have to fight to keep it.

A dozen years ago the future of technology bounced out of a remote corner of Africa on the back of a truck, along with a world of potential trouble. Both, embodied in the same load of rock, landed in the hands of Ivan Glasenberg, chief executive officer of Glencore Plc, the world’s largest middleman for the raw materials that fuel, feed, and underpin civilization.

Glasenberg’s obsession was copper, because China’s appetite for it was insatiable, with copper wire electrifying the nation’s rising cities and running through the appliances its factories sold to the West. The metal’s price had quadrupled in less than three years, triggering a global frenzy. Miners blasted it from Chilean mountaintops and dug it from the African earth as fast as they could.

At a processing plant in Zambia, Glencore was buying up all the ore containing copper it could get its hands on when technicians noticed something extraordinary. One trader consistently rolled in with rocks showing levels of purity that were off the charts—not just for copper, but also for the blue metal cobalt. Continue Reading →

Countries Push to Extract More Cash from Big Mining Companies – by Rhiannon Hoyle and Alexandra Wexler (Wall Street Journal – November 18, 2018)

Jakarta/Kalumbila – From Congolese jungles to Indonesian highlands, a struggle is raging between governments and major mining companies over control of commodities vital to the production of everything from steel to electric cars to smartphones.

Developing-world leaders, spurred by rising mineral prices, are making their toughest demands on Western mining companies in years, squeezing them to pay higher royalties and taxes, process commodities locally and cede control of mines.

In Indonesia, Rio Tinto RIO 1.76% PLC and Freeport-McMoRan Inc. were pressed to sell majority control of the world’s second-largest copper mine, Grasberg, to a government that aims to transform its state-owned resources companies into industry behemoths. Continue Reading →

Barrick Gold eyes assets, exploration as it plots new phase – by Susan Taylor and Zandi Shabalala (Reuters/Yahoo – November 16, 2018)

TORONTO/LONDON (Reuters) – Barrick Gold Corp, soon to become the world’s largest bullion miner, is interested in adding more copper assets as long as the red metal is accompanied by bullion, executives said on Friday.

Barrick, which expects to complete its $6.1 billion takeover of Randgold Resources Jan. 1, outlined plans for exploration, expansion, streamlining and asset sales at an investor presentation in London.

Structured under regions in North America, South America and Africa and the Middle East, Barrick spent the last four days focusing on where to take the merged company, said Randgold Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow, who will be Barrick’s new CEO. Continue Reading →

Abandoned Canadian silver mines could boom again as battery demand prompts gold rush in cobalt – by Peter Armstrong (CBC News Business – November 15, 2018)

Cobalt, Ont., could could be sitting on a gold mine — of cobalt — to help power electric cars, phones

The flooded bottom of an abandoned silver mine is an unlikely source of hope. But down there in the flickering light, a once worthless metal known as cobalt has sat idle for decades. Now it’s one of the most sought after metals in the world and that has many in this town in northern Ontario dreaming of boom times once again.

A century ago, prospectors came to Cobalt, Ont., in search of silver. They found it, and the town boomed. Amid all the silver, miners also found cobalt. So much that they named the town after it. Back then though, it was a mere indicator, a sign that something of actual value was nearby.

Now, all that ignored and discarded cobalt is the town’s best hope. “The potential here is huge,” says Frank Basa, chief executive officer of Canada Cobalt Works. Cobalt the metal has had a spectacular run over the past few years. And now Cobalt the town is poised to cash in. Continue Reading →

Sherritt International sees jump in nickel production and profit – by Amanda Stutt ( – November 12, 2018)

Sherritt International, (TSE: S) has released its 2018 Q3 report, and the numbers are up, thanks to the success of the company’s Moa joint venture (JV) with the Cuban Government.

Sherritt specializes in mining and refining of nickel and cobalt from lateritic ores, and the company also has projects and operations in Canada and Madagascar.

Pathe says the jump in numbers was largely due to higher realized nickel and cobalt prices. Cobalt is mined as a by-product of nickel, and acts as a stabilizing component in the lithium-ion battery cell structure. The average-reference price for nickel improved 26% from last year to $6.01/lb while the average-reference price for cobalt increased 22% to reach $35.21/lb. Continue Reading →

Diamonds are not necessarily forever – by Peter Fabricius (Daily Maverick – November 13, 2018)

Daily Maverick

First published by ISS Today

African governments’ continued resistance to expanding the definition of conflict diamonds could jeopardise the market for mined gems.

The participants in the Kimberley Process, including 19 African governments, are meeting this week in Brussels to review the successes and failures of its first 15 years of operation and, many hope, adapt it to the demands of a changing environment.

The process was launched in 2003 by diamond-producing countries, much of the diamond industry and several civil society watchdogs. They were responding to growing global concerns about “blood diamonds” – gems mined by armed rebel groups in African conflict zones like Sierra Leone, Liberia and Angola to finance their rebellions.

It created a scheme in which rough diamonds had to be certified as not having been mined by armed groups fighting legitimate governments – before they could be legitimately exported into the diamond market. Continue Reading →

What lies at the bottom of one of the deepest holes ever dug by man? – by Bill Whitaker (60 Minutes/CBS News – November 11, 2018)

A South African gold mine that goes two miles beneath the Earth’s surface holds far more than just precious metals

Over the years at 60 Minutes, we’ve been in more than a few tunnels. We explored Mexican drug lord El Chapo’s subterranean escape routes, burrowed through a Roman villa buried by Mt. Vesuvius and traveled the depths of the New York City subway. But nothing prepared us for a place called Moab Khotsong, a South African gold mine that extends nearly two miles beneath the surface.

In their pursuit of gold, South Africans have dug the deepest holes on Earth. The country was the world’s top gold producer for decades. Now the gold is running out, just as these ultra-deep mines have attracted a new breed of miner — on a very different quest. We went along for the adventure.

In the early morning light, tall mine shafts loom over the Vaal River basin two hours southwest of Johannesburg. This once was a booming gold field, now most mines lie abandoned but Moab Khotsong is bustling. Long before the sun rises, thousands of miners start lining up for the triple-deck elevator called “the cage.” It’s jammed but more always push on, and early one morning, so did we. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Glencore’s radioactive shock for the cobalt market – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – November 9, 2018)

LONDON, Nov 9 (Reuters) – Glencore’s Katanga mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was supposed to transform the cobalt market. After two years of being offline, Katanga’s ramp-up was going to add 11,000 tonnes to global supply this year. The surge, equivalent to 10 percent of world production last year, would flip the global market from supply shortfall to surplus.

That was the idea anyway. Katanga’s cobalt, however, has turned out to be radioactive. Glencore’s operating subsidiary, Katanga Mining, has found uranium with “low levels of radioactivity” in its cobalt hydroxide product.

Not enough to pose a health and safety scare, but enough to prevent the material being handled by ports. Katanga will keep producing but it has suspended cobalt sales until it has built an ion-exchange plant to remove the uranium. Continue Reading →

Editorial: Kamoto halt highlights cobalt’s unpredictability – by John Cumming (Northern Miner – November 8, 2018)

Northern Miner

Anyone needing a reminder of the tenuousness of the global cobalt market — which plays a major role in underpinning the global boom in electric vehicles (EVs) — need only look at the stark news on Nov. 6 that Glencore’s 75%-owned subsidiary Katanga Mining has suspended sales from its large Kamoto cobalt-copper mining complex in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), owing to uranium contamination of cobalt concentrates destined for export.

At press time on the day of the news, Katanga Mining shares closed down 23% to 49¢, compared to a multi-year peak of $2.67 on Jan. 3, 2018. Likewise, Glencore shares dropped 2.9% on the news in London trading.

Located in the DRC’s Kolwezi district, Kamoto had been slated to become the world’s largest cobalt mine during 2019 — cementing Glencore’s position as the world’s largest cobalt producer. Continue Reading →

Randgold CEO Says New Barrick to Focus on Cash-Generating Assets – by Rupert Rowling (Bloomberg News – November 6, 2018)

Randgold Resources Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow said the company formed by its merger with Barrick Gold Corp. will focus on high-quality assets to generate cash to boost dividends and shareholder value.

The merger between Barrick and Randgold will also provide momentum for further consolidation within the gold industry, which needs to better compete for global investors, Bristow said in an interview after the release of his company’s third-quarter results.

Key Insights

It’s clear that Bristow, who will become CEO of new Barrick, will employ the same game plan that made Randgold the darling of gold-mining investors. That means focusing on the five tier-1 assets the enlarged company will have in its portfolio and sweating them for cash. Continue Reading →

Anglo Finds Returns Outweigh Risks as It Renews Africa Focus – by Felix Njini (Bloomberg News – November 7, 2018)

(Bloomberg) — Anglo American Plc is going where larger rivals fear to tread, returning to its African roots to tap mineral assets with compelling returns.

The storied mining company, founded by Ernest Oppenheimer in Johannesburg a century ago, is devoting a third of its exploration budget to the continent, including searching for copper and cobalt in Angola and Zambia. In South Africa, it’s investing in platinum, diamond and iron-ore mines that are spitting out cash.

The London-based company is betting that Africa can deliver a portfolio of new ore bodies, even as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto Group largely shun the continent and focus on returning cash to shareholders. It’s a reversal of Anglo’s almost two-decade retreat from a continent that long weighed on its shares, but the miner retains a higher tolerance for risk in what used to be its backyard. Continue Reading →

Glencore’s Radioactive News May Help Give Cobalt Its Buzz Back – by Jack Farchy, Thomas Biesheuvel and Mark Burton (Bloomberg News – November 7, 2018)

(Bloomberg) — Glencore Plc’s sudden discovery that some of its cobalt is radioactive couldn’t come at a better time.

After a surge in prices last year, enthusiasm for cobalt has been fading, partly because of a surge in new supply. But sentiment could be changing after Glencore’s unit in the Democratic Republic of Congo suspended cobalt sales after detecting low levels of radioactivity.

“It’s nice to finally have some positive news in the market,” Gordon Buchanan, a senior trader at Stratton Metal Resources, said by phone from London. Continue Reading →

Randgold ready to mediate in Acacia’s Tanzania row before Barrick tie-up – by Zandi Shabalala (Reuters Canada – November 6, 2018)

LONDON (Reuters) – Randgold Resources (RRS.L) said on Tuesday it would mediate in a tax dispute between Tanzania and Acacia Mining (ACAA.L), a firm in which Randgold investors will have a stake if its planned merger with Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) is approved by shareholders.

Randgold Chief Executive Mark Bristow, who will lead the group after the Barrick tie-up, also told Reuters that Barrick could dispose of its Zambian copper mine after the merger.

In Tanzania, the government has accused Acacia, which is 63.9 percent owned by Barrick, of tax evasion and has slapped it with a $190 billion tax charge and banned any exports of unprocessed gold. Acacia denies any wrongdoing. Continue Reading →

Barrick shareholders approve Randgold acquisition – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – November 6, 2018)

Barrick Gold Corp. is one step closer to closing its biggest acquisition in seven years with shareholders voting overwhelmingly in favour of its $6-billion (U.S.) takeover of Randgold Resources Ltd.

On Monday, roughly 99 per cent of shareholders voted in favour of its zero-premium, all-stock purchase of Jersey-based Randgold, which operates in Africa.

Unlike Barrick’s $7.3-billion purchase of copper miner Equinox Minerals Ltd. in 2011, which was blamed for destroying billions in shareholder value, this deal has been warmly welcomed by shareholders on both sides since it was announced in late September. Continue Reading →

AngloGold assets in for a shake-up under new CEO Kelvin Dushnisky – by Allan Seccombe (Business Day – November 6, 2018)

AngloGold Ashanti, the world’s third-largest gold miner, has started the shakeup of its global mining portfolio, putting its shared Malian mine up for sale as new CEO Kelvin Dushnisky says 14 mines “feel a bit heavy”.

Dushnisky, a Canadian who was president of Barrick Gold until two months ago, replaced AngloGold stalwart Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan, who drove a tough programme of selling and closing mines, cutting costs and reducing debt as well as triggering a $450m-$500m investment in restarting the problematic and suspended Obuasi mine in Ghana.

”It’s not about the specific number of mines, but as I survey the landscape, what I’d like is for us to consider whether there are assets that are valuable but which could have more value in another company’s portfolio and allow us to take proceeds from a divestment and reinvest it in our portfolio,” Dushnisky said in an interview. Continue Reading →