A country fractures: from the mines, a killing field in South Africa – by Geoffrey York (Globe and Mail – August 17, 2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

JOHANNESBURG — The wild volley of gunfire erupted for less than three minutes. When it was over, at least seven bodies – and perhaps as many as 18 – lay in pools of blood on a dusty South African hilltop.It took just a brief burst of gunfire to expose all of the worst ills of post-apartheid South Africa: a volatile cocktail of poverty, labour militancy, police brutality, industrial decline and an increasingly angry and radicalized population.

The deadly clash between police and striking workers on Thursday was the latest chapter in a saga of mounting violence in South Africa’s mining sector – historically the biggest employer in the country, but now in serious decline.

The assault by enraged mineworkers, which sparked the final volley of gunfire, should have been no surprise to the police. It followed a week of bloodshed at the Marikana platinum mine, about 70 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg, owned by London-based Lonmin.

Up to 3,000 police, backed by helicopters and armoured vehicles, have been facing off against about 3,000 striking workers, many of whom were carrying machetes, iron rods and wooden sticks.

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For Barrick, Tanzanian mines lose their lustre – by Geoffrey York (Globe and Mail – August 17, 2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

JOHANNESBURG — Barrick Gold Corp.’s mining operations in Africa have been a publicity nightmare for the company for years, but until now the company had always seemed confident that the mines were profitable enough to withstand the damage to its reputation.

With a steady drumbeat of violent clashes and civilian deaths in recent years, the company’s North Mara gold mine in Tanzania has been one of the most controversial Barrick mines in the world.

Protesters and activists in Canada and Tanzania have accused Barrick of turning a blind eye to human rights abuses at its African mines. Last year alone, at least five villagers were shot dead at North Mara when they invaded the site to steal waste rock.

A report by a respected Tanzanian group, the Legal and Human Rights Centre, concluded that 19 villagers were killed by police and security guards at North Mara from the beginning of 2009 to the middle of 2010. (Barrick says it disagrees with this estimate but won’t provide its own estimate.)

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Lonmin Mine Death Toll Reaches 34 as Police Kill Strikers – by Matthew Hill and Robert Brand (Bloomberg Business Week -August 17, 2012)


South African police killed 34 striking workers at Lonmin Plc (LMI)’s Marikana platinum-mining complex yesterday, the worst death toll in police action since the end of apartheid in 1994.

In addition to the dead 78 people were injured and 259 arrested, Riah Phiyega, the country’s police commissioner, told reporters at the mine today. Six firearms were recovered from protesters including one that had belonged to a police officer murdered in earlier violence at the mine this week, she said.

Violence erupted yesterday after police used tear gas and live ammunition to disperse thousands of workers gathered on a hilltop near the mine. Clashes between rival labor unions at the mine led to a six-day standoff with police in which 10 people had already died, including two officers. Police say they acted in self-defense yesterday after coming under attack from the workers armed with spears, machetes and pistols.

“There was absolutely nothing else police could have done,” Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said in an interview with Johannesburg’s 702 Talk Radio. “People should not ignore the laws of the land.”

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South Africa police open fire at striking mine workers – by Jon Gambrell (Associated Press/Globe and Mail – August 17, 2012)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

JOHANNESBURG — South African police opened fire Thursday on a crowd of striking miners that charged a line of officers trying to disperse them, killing some and wounding others in one of the worst shootings by authorities since the end of the apartheid era.

Police declined to offer casualty figures after the shooting at the Lonmin PLC mine near Marikana, a dusty town about 70 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg. However, the main South African news agency, SAPA, has reported that 18 people have been killed. Police ministry spokesman Zweli Mnisi acknowledged late Thursday some of the miners there had died as more police and soldiers surrounded the hostels and shacks near Lonmin’s shuttered platinum mine.

The shooting happened Thursday afternoon after police failed to get the striking miners to hand over machetes, clubs and other weapons. Some miners did leave, though others carrying weapons began war chants and soon started marching toward the township near the mine, said Molaole Montsho, a journalist with the South African Press Association who was at the scene.

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RPT-Striking platinum miners confront S.Africa police – by Siphiwe Sibeko (Reuters – August 15, 2012)


MARIKANA, South Africa Aug 15 (Reuters) – Thousands of striking miners armed with machetes and sticks faced off with South African police on Wednesday at Lonmin’s Marikana mine after it halted production following the deaths of 10 people in fighting between rival unions.

Lonmin, the world’s third-largest platinum producer, has threatened to sack 3,000 rock drill operators if they fail to end a wildcat pay strike that started on Friday at Marikana, its flagship mine 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Johannesburg.

The illegal stay-away and the union clashes have forced London-headquartered Lonmin to halt mining at all its operations in South Africa, which account for 12 percent of global platinum output. South Africa has 80 percent of known platinum reserves.

On Wednesday, scores of police backed by helicopters lined up opposite a crowd of around 2,500 miners who had taken up position on a rocky outcrop overlooking the mine. “The situation is stable but tense. We are busy with negotiations and are maintaining a high visibility in the area,” national police spokesman Dennis Adrio said.

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[South Africa platinum] Lonmin mine’s union crisis calms – by Sapa/Reuters (Mail and Guardian – August 15, 2012)


Police say no further incidents have been reported at Lonmin’s violence-stricken Marikana mine in the North West, where 10 people have been killed. “Police have been monitoring the situation at the mine throughout Tuesday night,” Captain Dennis Adriao said on Wednesday morning. “We have not received any reports of violence or deaths.”
Violence erupted when about 3 000 Lonmin rock drill operators started an illegal work stoppage and protest march on Friday at the company’s Western Platinum mine. It was the deadliest violence yet in a union membership turf war between the dominant National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the newer Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).
A tenth body was found on Tuesday. A South African Press Association reporter who was on the scene said the body was lying face upwards 100m away from a hilltop where workers gathered earlier on Tuesday. The man was wearing khaki clothes.
Nine other people – two police officers, two security guards, three protesters and two other men – have been killed in the violent protests since Friday.

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Days of drilling and blasting coming to an end -AngloGold – by Christy Filen (Mineweb.com – August 7, 2012)


AngloGold has forced itself to think differently about deep level mining and this, they are hoping, will spawn an operating section employing the new technology by end 2013.

JOHANNESBURG (Mineweb) – When Apple launched the iPad, it didn’t just alter the numbers spinning about on its profit line, it changed the technology industry.
And if AngloGold Ashanti executive vice president of business strategy, Canadian engineer, Mike MacFarlane is to be believed the gold digger is looking to do something similar to deep level gold mining.
Since 2010, the group has been looking for ways to leverage old technology in new ways to mine gold even deeper than the current depths around 4kms. And, it is now aiming to introduce a new operating section at AngloGold by the end of 2013 that moves away from the conventional drill and blast methodology to one where the ore bearing reef is extracted with modified raise bore drills.
The raise bore drill, called an Amtek, is currently undergoing testing and is sourced locally in South Africa from a company called Atlantis.

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Zambian miners crush a Chinese manager to death. Remember that when Beijing boasts about its ‘win-win’ African parternships – by David Blair (The Telegraph – August 6th, 2012)


Suppose a manager of a British mining company picked up a gun and opened fire on his African workforce? What if the company concerned paid its Zambian miners less than the legal minimum wage? Suppose relations on the shop floor became so poisonous that furious workers chose to crush a manager to death?
If a British-based mining house like Anglo American or Rio Tinto had experienced any of this, I strongly suspect that popular protest would have overwhelmed the company concerned, sending its share price into free-fall and casting its very future into doubt.
Yet all of the above has happened at a Chinese-owned mine in Zambia. When workers at Collum coal mine protested about poor wages and working conditions in 2010, their Chinese managers responded by opening fire with live rounds. In fairness, they were not shooting to kill: no one actually died, but 11 of the miners suffered bullet wounds.
The Chinese argued they were acting in self defence, and Beijing made clear that should charges be pressed against them, bilateral relations would suffer. Zambia, unable to stand up to its biggest foreign investor, duly caved in: no criminal case was ever brought against the managers.

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Q&A with ‘Anti-Bono’ Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo [China resource competition] – by Rick Westhead (Toronto Star – July 29, 2012)

The Toronto Star, has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

Q: How long did you research and report your book?
A: It took me about three years. I did probably 80 interviews with hedge funds, policy makers. Of those, probably 30 interviews were with Chinese officials. I spend about 80 per cent of my time in developing markets. I’m in Africa once a quarter and China two or three times a year. So over the course of writing the book, I probably spend three or four months in China. I felt like I had a good connection with people. I’ve seen Chinese mines, been on their oil rigs.
Q: China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has said that without reforms China could face another Cultural Revolution. It’s very strong language from such as prominent leader. Did you get a sense from your time in China of what kind of opposition the government faces?
A: Not in the way you or I think about it, but there’s been a lot of transformation in China’s political system while we haven’t been watching. We are all sort of hyper-focused on issues like: are they going to have democratic elections where every Chinese stands in a line, queues around the block and elects a president? While we’ve been focused on that, there have been a whole lot of reforms going on.

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SEC conflict minerals rule foot-dragging a nightmare-GAO – by Dorothy Kosich (Mineweb.com – July 24, 2012)


The longer the SEC delays adoption of a final conflict minerals rule, the worse the situation becomes for global manufacturers voluntarily trying to keep conflict minerals out of supply chains.

RENO (MINEWEB) – A performance audit by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) has found the continued delay of the SEC to issue a final conflict minerals rule has contributed to “a lingering uncertainty among industry and other stakeholders” who have tried to implement voluntary conflict minerals supply chain initiatives.
In a recent report to the U.S. Congress, the GAO noted “the uncertainty regarding SEC’s reporting and due diligence requirements” has complicated the efforts of industry associations, multilateral organizations, and others who have developed global and in-region sourcing initiatives to help companies comply with future rules regarding conflict minerals.
Congress has pressured the SEC on two fronts to adopt rules relating to conflict minerals and resource extraction. In a June 22 letter to the SEC, 58 members of Congress urged the commission to implement Sections 1502 and 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which require public companies to make disclosures relating to the use of conflict minerals and payments made for mining of resources.

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Swansong of a sunset industry or the rise of an SA gold mid-tier? – by Geoff Candy (Mineweb.com – July 17, 2012)


Just like the landscape of Johannesburg, South Africa’s gold mining sector is undergoing a dramatic change, the question is: what will it end up looking like?

GRONINGEN (Mineweb) –  Mine dumps loomed large over my childhood. Growing up in the east rand of Johannesburg, a stone’s throw away from the ERPM mine operations, they were a part of my skyline. When we were kids we went to the drive-in on top of them and, later on, tried to “dune board” down them. But, in the last few years they have gradually begun to disappear.
As the gold price has risen and mines have got deeper, so many of these dumps have been re-drilled and reprocessed but, it is not just the landscape that is changing – the industry that gave birth to Africa’s “city of gold” is changing right along with it.
“The cynical among us might describe it as rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,” says Bernard Swanepoel, Joint CEO of Village Main Reef, one of the new class of junior gold miners coming up in South Africa at the moment.

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South Africa’s ANC to debate 50% mining tax – by Mike Cohen and Andres R. Martinez (Mineweb.com – June 26, 2012)


ANC delegates will this week debate proposals for a mining windfall tax of 50% as an alternative to nationalising mines in the world’s largest producer of platinum, chrome and manganese.

(BLOOMBERG) –  South Africa’s ruling African National Congress may endorse plans to raise mining taxes and increase state control over the economy as President Jacob Zuma shores up grassroots support ahead of a party election.
ANC delegates will this week debate proposals for a mining windfall tax of 50 percent as an alternative to nationalizing mines in the world’s largest producer of platinum, chrome and manganese. The plans are contained in draft policy documents to be discussed at a four-day conference in Johannesburg from today. The ANC controls 66 percent of the seats in Parliament.
Zuma, 70, who is seeking a second five-year term at a party election in December, is under pressure from his labor union allies and a growing number of jobless young people to do more to combat poverty and unemployment in Africa’s largest economy. Any attempt to extract more revenue from mining companies such as Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. and Lonmin Plc risks undermining an industry battered by rising labor costs, electricity shortages and a global economic slowdown.

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SA doesn’t just need dirt diggers – by Christy Filen (Mineweb.com – June 25, 2012)


According to Dr. Paul Jourdan, South Africa would do better leaving its minerals in the ground if it can’t better link its mining sector to the broader economy

JOHANNESBURG (Mineweb) –  Dr Paul Jourdan, who was part of the research team that compiled the ANC’s State Intervention in the Minerals Sector (SIMS) report, has said that South Africa needs more than just dirt diggers in its mining industry and that if the sector does not make the linkages as envisaged in the report then it would be better to leave the minerals in the ground.
“If you say I’m just a dirt digger and this is my core competence then fine, go to Australia. I’m not sure that we want companies that are just going to dig holes. I think that we want companies that are going to make those linkages and build our economy for the future, post mining” said Jourdan.
Speaking at the AngloGold Ashanti and Motjoli Resources Mining for Change breakfast in Johannesburg today, Jourdan described Australia as suffering from the Dutch disease where he said that the current minerals boom is causing de-industrialisation in other parts of their economy.

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South African mining at a cross roads – Carroll – by Christy Filen (Mineweb.com – June 7, 2012)


According to Anglo American CEO, Cynthia Carroll, South Africa’s policy choices over the coming weeks will profoundly impact not just the mining industry but also the country as a whole.

JOHANNESBURG (Mineweb) –  CEO of Anglo American, Cynthia Carroll, has said that South Africa’s policy choices over the coming weeks will profoundly impact not only the future of the mining industry but also the country.
“Those choices must be made wisely.  We are at a crossroads.  There is a clear path that will lead to prosperity and there are blind alleys that we must avoid” Carroll said to delegates at the Mining Lekgotla gala dinner last night.
Carroll has been clear in her opposition to one of these “blind alleys”, nationalisation, on many occasions, along with its promise of a “miracle cure for all ills” said the CEO. With voices waning on the nationalisation issue, Carroll moved on to address the ANC’s State Intervention in Mining Sector report (SIMS) where proposals were put forward for a mineral resource rent tax.

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How First Quantum settled with ENRC for compensation over Congolese mine – by Matthew McClearn (Canadian Business Magazine – June 05, 2012)

Founded in 1928, Canadian Business is the longest-publishing business magazine in Canada.

It’s a bit like discovering your spouse’s name on a marriage certificate—to somebody else. Written in French and bearing official-looking stamps in red and black ink, the 56-page contract detailed a joint venture between a collection of mysterious shell companies and the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The happy new partners had agreed to harvest a valuable collection of mining scrap heaps called the Kolwezi Tailings. But for executives at First Quantum Minerals, the implication seemed clear: its crown jewel had just been stolen.

This was not entirely unexpected. Founded in the mid-1990s, Vancouver-based First Quantum developed a reputation for mining in difficult frontier countries. The Congo is the frontier of frontiers, where one either takes or is taken. Since Belgium’s King Leopold II ran the country as a private fiefdom in the late 19th century, a dominant theme of Congolese history has been plunder of this abundant natural endowment by those in power.

Beneath its soils lie some of the world’s richest reserves of copper, cobalt, uranium, gold, diamonds and other resources. First Quantum coveted the copper- and cobalt-rich scrap heaps; it invested years and billions of dollars building the necessary infrastructure to harvest them. But then its relationship with the Congolese government went to hell. Losing its mining licence to someone else was just a formality.

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