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27th March 2008
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From Creamer Media in Johannesburg, this is the Real Economy Report. Our top stories this week:
·Diamond giant De Beers and the Botswana government officially open their jointly owned Diamond Trading Centre Botswana
·Ergo expects to produce gold for Christmas
·And, Sasol's unparalleled empowerment deal seeks to leave a skills legacy


SHANNON:
De Beers MD Gareth Penny lauds Botswana's diamond sorting and valuing facility as "one of the largest transfers ever of commercial activities from Europe to Africa". Matthew Hill reports.

MATTHEW:
Leading diamond producer De Beers and the Botswana government have officially opened the doors to the world-class and world-largest Diamond Trading Centre Botswana, which will sell up to $550-million worth of rough diamonds to be cut and polished in the country next year.

This will directly create 3 000 jobs in the beneficiation sector, which represents a 30% jump in Botswana diamond-industry jobs and a 10% rise in total manufacturing jobs in country.

De Beers MD Gareth Penny said at the launch function that the new centre heralded "one of the largest transfers ever of commercial activities from Europe to Africa".

Previously, the world's biggest gem producer had done the lion's share of its sorting and valuing in London.

The new facility, which De Beers funded at a cost of $83-million for the building and $10-million for its sorting machines, is a 50:50 joint venture between the diamond giant and the Botswana government.

DTC Botswana will sort nearly 35-million carats a year, catapulting it to the world's number-one spot in the sorting and valuing of rough stones.

A portion of the stones it processes will go to 16 companies cutting and polishing in the country, most of which are already operational.

Botswana, the biggest source of rough diamonds worldwide, welcomed the new facility as a "dream come true".

Both De Beers chairperson Nicky Oppenheimer and Penny stress that the firm decided to embark on the venture because it made sound business sense.

SHANNON:
After this commercial break, join us for an exclusive interview with DRDGold's Niel Pretorius.


SHANNON:
The pioneering Ergo plant in years past recovered billions of rands worth of gold, uranium and sulphuric acid from mine dump sand, until the bottom fell out of the gold price. But with gold and uranium flying high once more, Mining Weekly Online's Martin Creamer made his way to Brakpan to find out the latest on this wealth-from-the-dumps business.

MARTIN:
South Africans and Australians - in the form of the Johannesburg-listed DRDGold and the Australian-listed Mintails - have combined to bring the closed Ergo back to life. DRDGold's South African CEO Niel Pretorius tells Creamer Media Television exclusively that he expects the new owners to produce their first gold before Christmas.


MARTIN:
While the recovery of gold is first priority, Pretorius also outlines the Ergo Mining joint venture's plans to extract both uranium and sulphuric acid from the mine dump sand.


MARTIN:
The first phase of the Ergo project is already fully funded.


MARTIN:
Besides the gold, uranium and sulphuric acid, there is also the urban property that will become available once the 50 mine dumps have been removed.


SHANNON:
After a short break, join us for an interview with Sasol executive director Nolitha Fakude.


SHANNON:
Access and reach are hallmarks of Sasol's newly announced 26-billion rand empowerment transaction as Christy van der Merwe reports.

CHRISTY:
In South Africa's largest ever BEE deal, a 10% stake in Sasol would be made available to a broad base of beneficiaries, which would be divided into four groups, namely, a wide spectrum of employees to hold a 4% stake, the black South African public through an invitation offer with a 3% stake, the establishment of an educational foundation which would hold a 1,5% stake, and lastly selected participants such as Sasol's suppliers and customers, also holding a 1,5% stake in the company.

Beneficiaries will be able to buy the shares for R366, and the deal would be financed by a combination of Sasol facilitation, equity contributions and external funding, and participants would have full economic and voting rights.


SASOL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR NOLITHA FAKUDE

CHRISTY:
Sasol hoped that the deal would introduce new entrants into empowerment in South Africa, eliminate the usual suspects and leave a legacy through its focus on skills and capacity development.

SHANNON:
And now for a sneak preview of this week's Engineering News magazine:

A new R500-million agency seeks to bridge South Africa's innovation chasm, the gap between the local knowledge base and the productive economy.

Insight into progress being made by the Gautrain tunnel-boring machine, which will be dismantled and brought to surface once it reaches the end of the 3-km tunnel it has been tasked to complete.


And, serious plans by a South African bank to invest directly into both renewable and conventional power generation projects in South Africa.

And in Mining Weekly this week:

As mines go deeper, the spotlight is falling once more on ice technology, with ice-cooling systems being more energy efficient than their water-cooling competitors.


News that JSE-listed property company ApexHi hopes to expand Johannesburg's diamond hub, Jewel City, by a further 5 000 square meters, at a cost of R60-million.

And, an announcement by a South Korean State-owned minerals exploration and mining company that it and its partners plan to invest $6-billion in mining and energy projects across the world.

SHANNON:
That's Creamer Media's Real Economy Report. Join us again next week for more news and insight into South Africa's real economy.

Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter

 

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