Archive | Africa Mining

Ford launches blockchain project to trace cobalt in the Congo – by Hasan Chowdhury (The Telegraph – January 16, 2019)

Ford is preparing to clamp down on labour exploitation in the cobalt mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo by using blockchain technology to keep a record of supplies in the metal, a key ingredient for electric vehicle batteries.

The US carmaker will partner with LG Chem, a South Korean chemicals specialist and Chinese mining firm Huayou Cobalt for a pilot programme that will aim to ensure the in-demand metal is responsibly sourced. Concerns have mounted around a practice known as artisanal mining, which often involves children mining for metals by hand.

According to the Congo’s Chamber of Mines, 2m people are involved in artisanal mining in the country, with around 200,000 miners specifically digging in copper mines. Cobalt is usually obtained as a byproduct of copper and nickel mining. Continue Reading →

Canadian mining employee kidnapped during raid in Burkina Faso found dead: officials (Canadian Press/National Post – January 17, 2019)

Kirk Woodman was described as a talented geologist — part of a wider community of Nova Scotia-trained geologists who helped find mines around the globe

Government officials in Burkina Faso have confirmed a Canadian mining company employee has been found dead after being kidnapped in the west African country.

An official with the Ministry of Security says Kirk Woodman, a Halifax man who worked for the Vancouver-based Progress Mineral Mining Company, was found dead late Wednesday in Oudalan province.

Jean Paul Badoum said from Ouagadougou, the country’s capital, that the body was found with bullet wounds. Badoum said Woodman was kidnapped by armed gunmen from a mining camp, but officials have not yet identified the kidnappers. He said no group has taken responsibility for the kidnapping. Continue Reading →

Ebola Has Gotten So Bad, It’s Normal – by Laurie Garrett (Foreign Policy Magazine – January 15, 2019)

Nearly 600 people have contracted Ebola since last August in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, making the ongoing outbreak the second largest in the 43-year history of humanity’s battle with the deadly virus.

And there is a genuine threat that this Congo health crisis—the 10th the African nation has faced—could become essentially permanent in the war-torn region bordering South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi, making a terrible transition from being epidemic to endemic.

Despite having a tool kit at its disposal that is unrivaled—including a vaccine, new diagnostics, experimental treatments, and a strong body of knowledge regarding how to battle the hemorrhage-causing virus—the small army of international health responders and humanitarian workers in Congo is playing whack-a-mole against a microbe that keeps popping up unexpectedly and proving impossible to control. Continue Reading →

Platinum price fall worsening plight of job-intensive mines – by Martin Creamer ( – January 16, 2019)

JOHANNESBURG ( – The latest fall of the platinum price is threatening to become the last straw that broke the camel’s back for some deep labour-intensive platinum group metals (PGMs) mines on particularly the western limb of the Bushveld Complex, Mining Weekly Online can today report.

Well ahead of the latest price decimation, platinum company CEOs were expressing concern about the lossmaking position of western limb PGMs mines, which account for 55% of South Africa’s platinum production and provide 136 000 direct mining jobs.

At the time of going to press, the platinum price was $801/oz, which even rand conversion is unable to embellish to an acceptable level. As long ago as February 2012, the then Anglo American Platinum CEO, Neville Nicolau, was unequivocal about $1 900/oz being essential for the capital investment required to maintain long-term production. Continue Reading →

Congo poll leaves uncertainty for miners at heart of EV revolution – by Joe Bavier (Reuters U.S. – January 13, 2019)

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The surprise outcome of Congo’s election – a vote meant to bring closure to years of turmoil under President Joseph Kabila – has done little to ease uncertainty for miners and investors in a country crucial to the electric vehicle revolution.

Democratic Republic of Congo is the world’s leading miner of cobalt, a mineral used in electric car batteries which has seen a surge in demand in recent years, with mines run by firms including Glencore (GLEN.L) and China Molybdenum (603993.SS).

Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi, an unknown quantity for mining executives, was declared the winner of last month’s chaotic vote on Thursday, defeating Kabila’s chosen successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary. Continue Reading →

Diamond sector transformation in Angola approaches major milestone achievement (Mining Review Africa – January 14, 2019)

Mining Review Africa

The significant diamond sector reforms being enacted by the President of Angola, His Excellency Joao Lourenco, to grow investment into the Angolan mining sector, will take another major step forward this month. The inaugural competitive bid sale of large and premium-quality diamonds from Lucapa Diamond Company’s (and partners) high-quality Lulo diamond mine will take place in Luanda.

The sale will mark a significant milestone for the Angolan diamond mining industry, being the first diamonds offered for sale in a competitive process under the new diamond marketing policy enacted by President Lourenco and the Angolan Council of Ministers.

The historic Lulo competitive bid sale, which is scheduled to close on 31 January 2019, is being organised in Luanda by SODIAM, the state-owned company responsible for the trading of diamonds in Angola. Continue Reading →

Russian Diamond Giant Alrosa Is Going Back to Zimbabwe – by Yuliya Fedorinova and Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg News – January 15, 2019)

Alrosa PJSC, one of the world’s top diamond miners, is returning to crisis-stricken Zimbabwe, the latest example of Russia expanding its footprint in Africa.

The company will develop new mining operations with the support of the government, Alrosa said Monday as Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa visited Moscow to try and raise investment for his economically blighted nation. In Mnangagwa’s absence, protests against his government’s economic mismanagement intensified, with 24 injured on Monday and five possibly dead.

Mnangagwa, who became president in 2017, sees diamonds as one way to help revive his nation’s mining industry, which suffered years of decline under his predecessor Robert Mugabe. The government is considering waiving a rule that has prevented foreign investors from holding controlling stakes in its diamond mines, as it targets production of 12 million carats by 2023, up from 3.5 million carats last year. Continue Reading →

How Canada’s dazzling future in diamonds ended in fraud allegations – by Jennifer Wells (Toronto Star – January 14, 2019)

This is not going to be a column about the manufactured consumption of diamonds. But it is going to be a column about the manufacture — the cutting and polishing — of diamonds.

The news from Tiffany & Co. of a diamond provenance initiative is welcome. Steps the company has taken as of this week — providing geographic sourcing information for individual diamonds — will be ramped up in 2020 when the New York jewelry house begins sharing the “craftsmanship journey,” as in, where those stones were turned into princess-cut bedazzlers. Do you want your diamond to be ethically sourced? Of course you do.

Some may think, brightly: Tiffany-blue ring boxes, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn. Others may think, insightfully: conflict diamonds, blood diamonds, child labour. I think, simply: Northwest Territories, squandered economic opportunity, a sprinkling of fraud. They’re all connected. Human rights abuses abroad bleed as deeply through the mining of diamonds as those kimberlite pipes that plunge beneath the Arctic surface. Continue Reading →

Barrick Gold’s new CEO dismisses debate over whether company will remain Canadian as ‘hysteria’ – by Danielle Bochove (Financial Post/Bloomberg – January 10, 2019)

Barrick Gold Corp.’s new chief executive is surprised by the “hysteria” over whether the world’s largest gold miner will remain a Canadian company.

Barely a week after his Channel Islands-based Randgold Resources Ltd. merged with Barrick, Mark Bristow says he’s determined to keep the global miner headquartered in Toronto — or at least as committed as he is to any head office.

“Mining industries have to catch up with the reality of the times,” Bristow said in a phone interview from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he maintains a home. “We can’t sit in this massive corporate office — this old tradition — trying to run an organization that’s global by remote control.” Continue Reading →

Investigating DR Congo’s illegal gold trade – by Lisa Dupuy and Klaas van Dijken (Deutsche Welle – January 8, 2019)

The conflict-ridden African nation is rich in gold — and gold smugglers, who are often linked to rebel groups. But tracing commercially available gold back to illegal mining operations is easier said than done.

The current mood in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is tense. A general election finally took place this month after a two-year delay and the country is now holding its collective breath as it awaits the results. Meanwhile, armed groups in the north-east continue to take advantage of a weak government and meddle in the minerals trade.

Since 2017, we have been investigating the impact of illegal gold mining in the region. Our initial research led us to Obima Faustin, a hustler who says he will tell us more about the illegal gold trade. But just organizing a time to interview him proved difficult, as he repeatedly insisted on changing the time and place. Finally, we meet him in the outskirts of Uganda’s capital, Kampala.

Faustin — who is half-Congolese and half-Ugandan — is dressed in a denim suit. He’s obviously not lacking in self-confidence. No one in Kampala knows more about gold than him, Faustin assures us. Continue Reading →

Deep in a Panama Rainforest, First Quantum Bondholders Spy Prize – by Paula Sambo and Danielle Bochove (Bloomberg News – January 8, 2019)

First Quantum Minerals Ltd. is poised to fire up a giant copper project in Panama, thousands of miles from its beleaguered mines in Zambia. For bondholders, that’s a welcome distance.

The Canadian copper company is ramping up production at the Cobre Panama plant this year, even as a mining tax hike forces it to shed jobs and cut production at its Zambian facilities. With Panama slated to become a more prominent place of operations, bondholders should benefit as Panama’s stronger credit rating feeds into the debt’s prices, First Quantum President Clive Newall said in an interview.

Where First Quantum does significant business matters to bondholders who closely follow risks associated with lending to companies operating in that particular country. Panama has an investment-grade rating, while Zambia is ranked more deeply into junk. Continue Reading →

‘Industrial scale’ illegal gold looting costing South Africa R14bn a year – report ( – December 30, 2018)

South African gold is being looted on an “industrial scale”, with research estimating that the country loses about $1bn (around R14.4bn) through illegal gold mining every year, the Sunday Times reported.

According to the report, much of this looting occurred during the height of state capture, between 2012 and 2016, and it has been linked to the alleged decimation of the South African Revenue Services’ (SARS) capacity to investigate the illicit economy.

According to the paper, research by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime (GI) shows large anomalies in gold trade data. In one case, Dubai bought 34 tons of gold from South Africa from 2012-2016, but this is not reflected in South Africa’s trading accounts. Continue Reading →

The Mining World Watches as Congo Counts Votes for Next Leader – by Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg News – January 4, 2019)

The Democratic Republic of Congo is in uncharted waters as the nation awaits election results marking the end of President Joseph Kabila’s rule. One thing is certain: the mining world is watching closely.

Congo, which held presidential polls on Dec. 30, is one of the world’s most important but difficult mining jurisdictions. Companies including Glencore Plc, Barrick Gold Corp. and China Molybdenum Co. have major operations in the country and Congo is the biggest producer of cobalt, a key material for batteries, as well as an important source of minerals from tungsten to tin.

One of the industry’s biggest concerns in the past year has been a new mining code introduced by Kabila’s government that raised royalties, added taxes and canceled a clause that would have protected them against fiscal changes for 10 years. There has been vocal opposition from the mining industry, but so far no concessions. Continue Reading →

Barrick Gold veering away from Canadian roots after Randgold acquisition – by Niall McGee and Rachelle Younglai (Globe and Mail – January 4, 2019)

The slow shift of power away from Barrick Gold Corp.’s Canadian head office has moved into high gear, just days after it closed its deal with African operator Randgold Resources Ltd.

The US$6-billion acquisition, which was announced in September and completed Tuesday, has left Barrick with a hollowed-out head office, almost no Canadian representation on the board and few Canadians in top management positions.

Barrick’s retreat in Canada reflects a broader downsizing of Toronto as a world mining capital, with fewer global players headquartered in the city and dramatically less mining capital being raised on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Barrick, the world’s largest gold producer, had been one of the last great Canadian corporate mining champions left standing after a wave of foreign takeovers of metals giants such as Inco and Falconbridge. Continue Reading →

HARRY OPPENHEIMER: 110 YEARS AGO, A LEGEND WAS BORN – by Iris Hortman (Israeli Diamond Industry – December 30, 2018)

Israeli Diamond Industry

More than anyone else, Oppenheimer is responsible for associating diamonds with romantic love

Harry Frederick Oppenheimer (1908-2000), born 110 years ago in South Africa, was one of the most prominent figures in the global diamond industry; more than anyone else, Oppenheimer is responsible for associating diamonds with romantic love, and the transformation of diamonds into a symbol of marriage.

Harry was the son of Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, founder of the multinational mining company Anglo American Corporation of South Africa, which took over De Beers after WWI. In 1929, Ernest Oppenheimer became Chairman of De Beers. Over the years his son took over, and under his leadership De Beers became a global leader in diamond mining.

Diamonds are Forever

More than anything else, Harry Oppenheimer is remembered for his contribution to the promotion and marketing of polished diamonds. In the mid-1930s, he persuaded his father and the company that they should advertise their polished stones – an innovative suggestion that was initially met with opposition. While some argued that advertising would degrade the image of diamonds, young Oppenheimer initiated a revolutionary marketing concept: Diamonds as a symbol of romantic love. Continue Reading →