Archive | Africa Mining

Barrick and Randgold in talks on $18bn tie-up – by Henry Sanderson and Neil Hume (Financial Times – September 23, 2018)

Merger would create leading gold producer as sector struggles to attract investors

Canada’s Barrick Gold is in talks to merge with Randgold Resources, its London-listed rival, in a $18bn deal that would create the world’s leading gold producer, according to reports.

The discussions between Barrick and Randgold follow a dismal year for the sector, which has struggled to attract the interest of investors.

Shares in Barrick have dropped 25 per cent amid criticism of its strategy, while Randgold has fallen 34 per cent as it has struggled with a number of operational issues, including a strike at one of its biggest mines. Continue Reading →

Focus turns to nonexplosives-based rock breaking as quest for safer, more-efficient mining intensifies – by Dylan Slater ( – September 21, 2018)

Alternatives to Blasting

The South African mining industry, once the backbone of economic growth, intensive job creation and development in the country, is in constant decline, owing to the slow rates of research and development into newer, safer, modernised, mechanised and continuous mining methods.

A key pillar of improved mining efficiency and safety for personnel – as mining takes place at greater depths to access orebodies – is using alternative rock-breaking methods to replace the legacy explosives-based methods.

Minerals Council South Africa (MCSA), formerly known as the Chamber of Mines, states that the local mining sector has been considered a labour-intensive industry for more than a century, with mining characterised by physically demanding drilling methods, and operations punctuated by blasting and cleaning on a stop-start basis. This means that, for a period, mines are in limbo between charging holes and clearing stopes. Continue Reading →

Blockchain and Diamonds: The Future of the Diamond Industry – by Andrej Kovacevic (Baltimore Post-Examiner – September 20, 2018)

On May 10 of this year, global diamond giant De Beers published a press release stating that it had successfully tracked 100 high-value diamonds from the time they left the mine until they reached the retailers’ door using blockchain technology.

According to the press release, this was the “first time a diamond’s journey has been digitally tracked from mine to retail.” De Beers is calling its new blockchain platform Tracr and will be available to the entire diamond industry as a whole before the end of the year.

With conflict gemstones and minerals in the limelight as of recent, De Beers is one among a handful of companies trying to increase consumer confidence by proving that the diamonds their buying are not funding rebel groups or rogue states, as well as make the supply chain more efficient and secure. Continue Reading →

South Africa Eases Free-Carry Rules in Final Mining Charter – by Sam Mkokeli and Felix Njini (Bloomberg News – September 20, 2018)

South Africa eased some of the more controversial provisions in a final version of its Mining Charter approved by the cabinet this week as the government seeks to provide policy certainty and ease investor concerns.

While holders of new mining rights must still give employees a 5 percent stake in the assets, they can choose to offset another 5 percent for nearby communities by investing in community development instead, Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said Thursday.

Separately, the cabinet also approved a plan to withdraw the long-delayed Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill, he said. Continue Reading →

Open letter to anyone who uses a smartphone, drives an electric car, or flies on a plane – by Siddharth Kara (Harvard Kennedy School/Reuters – September 18, 2018)

Make no mistake – the supply chain of cobalt from the Congo is smeared in blood and misery

I recently returned from a research trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where tens of thousands of children toil in abject squalor, endure pitiful penny wages, grave injury, and even death in order to mine cobalt.

Once processed, this cobalt is used in the lithium-ion rechargeable batteries that power our electronic devices, allow us to snap photos and videos that capture our lives, and connect us to social media. It also powers our electric vehicles and is used to build the jet engines that carry us around the world.

Companies such as Apple, Google, Samsung, Tesla, Boeing, and dozens more that buy cobalt sourced from the DRC are aware of the appalling conditions in which cobalt can be mined, yet no one appears willing to address the situation. Make no mistake – the supply chain of cobalt from the Congo is smeared in blood and misery. Continue Reading →

A thirsty business: factoring water into the true cost of coal – by Scarlett Evans (Power Technology – September 18, 2018)

South Africa’s Life After Coal campaign is calling for a closer look at coal’s impact on water. But just what are the true costs of the coal industry?

While a rise in renewable energy has meant the global share of coal-fired generation is beginning to fall, the material continues to make up a significant portion of many nations’ energy mixes. One such country is South Africa, which currently relies on coal for more than 90% of its power, though climate targets and a national water crisis have given rise to calls for a change.

The International Energy Agency estimates that global energy production requires 10% of the world’s total water withdrawals. Given that in 2017, prolonged drought and resource mismanagement resulted in Cape Town being only days away from running out of water entirely, it’s clear that every drop counts, and coal power requires more than just a drop.

The Life After Coal campaign is attempting to highlight the industry’s significant water costs and push the country to a cleaner, renewable future. Continue Reading →

Congo will declare cobalt and other minerals as “strategic” in coming days – mines minister – by Amedee Mwarabu (Reuters U.S. – September 15, 2018)

KOLWEZI, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sept 15 (Reuters) – T he prime minister of Democratic Republic of Congo will sign a decree in the coming days to designate cobalt and other minerals as “strategic” and therefore subject to higher royalties, Mines Minister Martin Kabwelulu said on Saturday.

The change is part of a new mining code, which mining companies including Glencore and Randgold oppose as it axes tax exemptions and hikes royalties and profit taxes.

They have been holding out the hope it might be watered down in further negotiations. The government has not yet formally announced which metals will be classed as strategic in the new code and subject to royalties of 10 percent. Continue Reading →

Barrick Gold Seeks Chinese Partners, May Slash Headcount: Globe – by Natalie Obiko Pearson (Bloomberg News – September 15, 2018)

Barrick Gold Corp. may slash 400 jobs and involve Chinese partners in its troubled Tanzania operations, Executive Chairman John Thornton told the Globe and Mail newspaper.

The Toronto-based company has slashed middle management by half to about 700 and “we want to get it down to 300,” Thornton, who’s been in his role since 2014, told the Globe in an interview in London. The former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive wants a leaner, entrepreneurial partnership more like the early days under late founder Peter Munk, the Globe said.

Thornton said there’s “an almost 100 percent” chance Chinese partners will get involved in Barrick’s projects in Tanzania that are operated through its 64 percent stake in Acacia Mining Plc. Continue Reading →

Congo Plans to Build Special Economic Zone for Cobalt Users – by William Clowes (Bloomberg News – September 13, 2018)

The Democratic Republic of Congo plans to establish special economic zones for companies that manufacture goods from the country’s minerals, President Joseph Kabila said.

“There is a need to create special economic zones for the final users of Congolese natural resources,” Kabila said at a conference Wednesday in the southeastern city of Kolwezi. The area will allow producers of electric vehicles, smartphones and other goods to “install themselves in the DRC,” he said.

Congo is the world’s biggest source of cobalt, which is used to make rechargeable batteries in electric cars manufactured by companies including Volkswagen AG. The country also produces more than a quarter of the world’s tantalum, used in Apple iPhones and other smartphones. Continue Reading →

Smartphones, Electric Cars Keep Miners Digging by Hand in Congo–Update – by Scott Patterson and Alexandra Wexler (Wall Street Journal/ – September 13, 2018)

KOLWEZI, Congo — Apple Inc., Volkswagen AG and about 20 other global manufacturers found themselves on the defense when Amnesty International reported two years ago that the cobalt in some of their batteries was dug up by Congolese miners and children under inhumane conditions.

Many of the companies said they would audit their suppliers and send teams to Congo to fix the problem. Their efforts haven’t kept hand-dug cobalt out of the industry supply chain.

At a cobalt mine named Mutoshi in Kolwezi, freelance Congolese workers known as creuseurs — French for miners — could be seen in May descending underground without helmets, shoes or safety equipment. The mine’s owner is part of the global cobalt supply chain for companies including Apple and VW. Continue Reading →

Local court to decide Norilsk claim on BCL – by Allan Seccombe (Business Day – September 11, 2018)

Russia’s largest mining company in mineral rights dispute with Botswana group and liquidation leader

The success of Norilsk Nickel’s $277m claim against Botswana’s BCL miner and refiner, which is in liquidation, will be decided in an SA court that must find on the merits of a mining right awarded to BCL.

In an acrimonious dispute in which Norilsk Nickel, Russia’s largest mining company and a leading source of palladium, has tried to shred the reputation of Botswana as Africa’s most highly regarded mining destination, there has been a standoff between the Russian company and Nigel Warren-Dixon of KPMG Botswana, who is leading the BCL liquidation.

In 2014 Norilsk struck deals with BCL to sell its 85% stake in Tati nickel mine in Botswana and its 50% stake in SA’s Nkomati Nickel to the state-run nickel producer for $337m. The price was later dropped to $277m. Continue Reading →

Interpol rescues 85 child slaves from Sudan’s streets and gold mines – by Nellie Peyton (Reuters Africa – September 10, 2018)

DAKAR, Sept 10 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Nearly 100 human trafficking victims have been rescued in a major police operation in Sudan, including dozens of children forced to work in illegal gold mines, Interpol said on Monday.

Operation Sawiyan involved 200 Sudanese police officers who rescued 94 people, including 85 minors, from criminal networks in and around the capital, Khartoum, in an Interpol-led week-long crackdown last month, the global police organisation said.

Many of the victims were from other African countries and believed to have been travelling toward Europe when they fell into the hands of traffickers, said Tim Morris, Interpol’s executive director of police services. Continue Reading →

Coal Shows Resilience in Global Comeback – by Neanda Salvaterra (Wall Street Journal – September 3, 2018)

Asian and African countries are counting on the hydrocarbon to expand access to electricity

Coal is clinging to the top spot in power generation, accounting for as much of the world’s electricity as it did two decades ago, despite heightened concerns about climate change and a slowdown in financing for projects involving the dirtiest of fossil fuels.

U.S. exports of coal more than doubled in 2017 and are set to grow this year, according to the Energy Information Administration. Countries across Asia and Africa are expected to increase their use of coal for expanding power generation through 2040, says the EIA.

The rebound shows coal’s resilience, especially in emerging regions, and recent events suggest the market for black combustible rock will remain strong. In the U.S., the Trump administration has proposed to reverse U.S. rules on coal emissions, and countries including India and Vietnam are planning major coal projects. Continue Reading →

‘Will I Come Back Dead?’ Human Costs of South African Gold – by Felix Njini (Bloomberg News – September 9 2018)

After more than two decades of improving mine safety since the end of apartheid, South Africa’s progress has stalled with an increase in gold-mining deaths.

More than 50 people have died in the country’s mines in 2018, roughly the same number as this time last year. While annual death tolls are far lower than the 615 in recorded in 1993 — the last full year of apartheid — 2017 witnessed the first rise in 10 years.

Most of the gold mining fatalities are due to workers being crushed under falling rocks, caused by more frequent tremors as companies dig deeper for the precious metal, in some cases reaching depths of more than 4 kilometers (2.5 miles). The government is investigating Sibanye Gold Ltd.’s operations, where over half the gold mining deaths occurred this year. Continue Reading →

Cobalt Shortages Ahead – by Mark Lapedus (SemiConductor Engineering – September 10, 2018)

SemiConductor Engineering

Growth in electric vehicles and batteries is causing supply issues that could affect broad swaths of the electronics market.

Rapid growth of electric vehicles is creating an enormous demand for cobalt, causing tight supply, high prices and supply chain issues for this critical material.

Cobalt is a ferromagnetic metal and one of the key materials used in lithium-ion batteries for cell phones, notebook PCs, battery-electric cars and hybrids. It also is used in alloys and semiconductors. And while the IC industry consumes a tiny percentage of the world’s cobalt supply, that supply is tightening.

For cobalt, the big growth market is the electric car business, which requires tons of cobalt a year. In the supply chain, metals are mined and processed into cobalt. Continue Reading →