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COMING UNSTUCK

By: Martin Creamer The alacrity that diversified major Glencore displayed in closing its coal trading office in Singapore and relocating it to Australia put it in a good light at the Senate tax inquiry in Australia. In sharp contrast, stronewalling and shilly-shallying skittled the reputations of both by BHP... 

COMING UNSTUCK

AUSTRALIAN PROTECTIONISM

By: Darlene Creamer Australia’s treasurer has reportedly told business representatives he would not allow Glencore to merge with Rio Tinto over concerns about losing tax revenue. Glencore has since indicated its willingness to close its Singapore sales office and consolidate the business in Australia, amid media... 

AUSTRALIAN PROTECTIONISM

TAX TROUBLE FOR PROSPECTORS

By: Martin Creamer Insult has been added to the lack of incentives for prospecting companies by an alarming 3% add-back amendment to the transfer pricing legislation, which confronts foreign-funded prospecting companies with real tax cash costs. KPMG corporate tax head Muhammad Saloojee reports that the 3% add... 

TAX TROUBLE FOR PROSPECTORS

HAVING CAKE AND EATING IT TOO

By: Darlene Creamer References to BHP Billiton’s proposed new South32 business as DudCo have disappeared from analyst coverage, a Fortune writer has noted. He puts the change down to the falling prices of iron-ore and oil, which remain with BHP Billiton, and the steadier prices of aluminum, manganese, nickel and... 

HAVING CAKE AND EATING IT TOO

POWER PRICE PULL-OUT

By: Darlene Creamer POWER PRICE PULL-OUT – The decision of Assmang and its partner African Rainbow Mineral (ARM) to place its long-standing Machadodorp ferroalloys operation on care and maintenance at the end of April was largely the result of uncompetitive electricity tariffs, ARM CEO Mike Schmidt said at this... 

POWER PRICE PULL-OUT

WIN BACK INVESTOR SUPPORT

By: Martin Creamer Mining was last week urged to win back lost investor support by making full use of modern tools that guide capital return with unprecedented accuracy. “Let's not focus on the fish eagles when you’re in the swamp and up to your armpits in crocodiles. Let's focus on the crocodiles,” was the comment... 

WIN BACK INVESTOR SUPPORT

COAL COMFORT

By: Martin Creamer Public enterprise Eskom wants coal for its power stations, public enterprise Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) wants coal for its trains and the Public Enterprises Department is in charge of both. Eskom has in the past called for coal to be declared strategic and TFR wants coal exporters to sign... 

COAL COMFORT

SOUTH32 TO RESCUE

By: Martin Creamer Mining giant BHP Billiton managed to pull a free cash flow rabbit out of a depressed commodity price hat in the six months to December 31. But another rabbit will be needed in the second half and that company sees it coming in the form of South32, the demerged aluminium, coal, manganese, nickel... 

SOUTH32 TO RESCUE

SPARKLING TAILWIND

By: Darlene Creamer While Anglo American is being forced to fend off strong price headwinds across most of its diversified portfolio, at least one tailwind propelled it forward in 2014 – diamonds. Anglo subsidiary De Beers managed to sell 34.4-million diamond carats, which delivered earnings before interest and tax... 

SPARKLING TAILWIND

ANGEL INVESTOR

By: Darlene Creamer There will be an inclination by some to see the offer Chinese capital management group Heaven-Sent has made for the struggling Johannesburg-listed Village Main Reef precious-metals mining company to be taken literally as something that has been sent from heaven to assist this junior that has... 

ANGEL INVESTOR

GOLDEN TURNAROUND

By: Darlene Creamer Neal Froneman and his Sibanye Gold team have done well to devise a turnaround at the loss-making Cooke 4 gold-mine shaft on Gauteng’s West Rand and keep 213 more mineworkers employed than was originally expected by adding an additional 22 working shifts, which will bring in R50-million more... 

GOLDEN TURNAROUND

DIAMOND PRICE LAID BARE

By: Darlene Creamer Diamond price weakness will continue until new sources of liquidity are found, say Liberum Capital mining analysts Ben Davis and Richard Knights. The share price of London-listed Gem Diamonds fell sharply after Petra Diamonds announced it was experiencing weak pricing and the analysts are... 

DIAMOND PRICE LAID BARE

MINEWORKER CASH BURN 

By: Martin Creamer Mineworkers lost R16.8-million in forfeited wages and benefits during last week’s illegal seven-day strike at Northam’s Zondereinde platinum mine in Limpopo province. That followed the R100-million loss by the same mineworkers during their 2013/14 strike and the absolutely colossal R24-billion... 

MINEWORKER CASH BURN

CAPSIZED JUNIORS

By: Martin Creamer Low commodity price waves have overturned several junior mining companies as the mining sector goes into 2015 a little worse for wear. Two coal juniors, the Sydney-listed ZYL and the London Aim-listed Beacon Hill, put themselves into voluntary administration last week; antimony junior Cons Murch... 

CAPSIZED JUNIORS

PRICE DISCOMFORT

By: Martin Creamer Weak currencies do provide a cushion in times of commodity price fall but the extent to which they are doing that in the current low price environment is, in the main, failing to take away enough hardness. What is worse is that the current commodity price fall does not appear to have short-term... 

PRICE DISCOMFORT

PLATINUM PURGE 

By: Darlene Creamer A spotlight is at last being shone into the dark area of secret platinum stocks, which have been befuddling our platinum price right through the longest period of under supply in South Africa’s history – the five-month strike on the platinum belt. This light is giving a glimpse of what the new... 

PLATINUM PURGE

TAILING TINTO

By: Darlene Creamer A banker who played a key role in the BHP Billiton merger has reportedly told fund managers in London that the coming together of Rito Tinto and Glencore is inevitable, despite the rebuff Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg received from Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh when he raised the possibility earlier... 

TAILING TINTO

GOLD HELPING DIAMONDS TO SPARKLE

By: Darlene Creamer Gold miner Dr Mark Bristow has increased his interest in Rockwell Diamonds by making a unsecured convertible debenture investment of C$1.1-million in the company. Principal shareholder and beneficiation partner Daboll simultaneously added another C$3-million, taking the total raised to... 

GOLD HELPING DIAMONDS TO SPARKLE

PRECIOUS STRESS

By: Darlene Creamer Chinese companies are featuring increasingly in bidding for stressed South African mining assets in general and precious metal assets in particular. Central Rand Gold, which mines under the golden city of Johannesburg, is considering selling out to Hiria of Hong Kong for $150-million cash.... 

PRECIOUS STRESS

SPARKLING CURTAIN OPENING

By: Darlene Creamer For a hundred and plenty years, price opacity has reigned in the diamond industry, with live spot prices being conspicuous by their absence and diamond major De Beers refusing to disclose its selling prices. Now, as the Internet forces more transparency on the industry and Anglo American becomes... 

SPARKLING CURTAIN OPENING

GROWING APPETITE

By: Darlene Creamer Rio Tinto’s revelation that Glencore had contacted it about a potential merger indicates that Glencore’s mega merger-and-acquisition appetite has returned after fully digesting Xstrata. Investec mining analysts see such a merger as being potentially aided by Chinalco, Rio’s 9.8% Chinese... 

GROWING APPETITE

BOOKKEEPING BREATHER

By: Darlene Creamer European Central Bank president Mario Draghi has come to the psychological aid of the gold price by urging all central banks to hold tightly on to their gold holdings at this time poor noble metal value. Judging from the fast pace at which China is continuing to import as much gold as it can, the... 

BOOKKEEPING BREATHER

RETURN THE CROWN

By: Darlene Creamer For nearly 30 years, platinum demand increased by 5 % a year and the industry was in such a comfort zone that it imagined that high demand growth was a given. But complacency has landed platinum mining in trouble as production continued when demand went flat, and down went the prices. Being... 

RETURN THE CROWN

IRON-ORE PIÑATA  

By: Darlene Creamer Iron-ore producers are trying to get all they can out of their iron-ore piñata ponies, against a background of concern that iron-ore prices may stay at lows of $70/t to 80/t for as long as three years. The overarching message of BHP Billiton, which this month hosted site tours of its Western... 

IRON-ORE PIÑATA

WEIGHT OF PAPER

By: Darlene Creamer Mining companies are being weighed down by a surfeit of regulatory obligations that are diminishing the financial resources needed to increase mining output and bringing down export revenues. When South Africa’s trade deficit worsened to the larger-than-expected R16.3-billion in August, analysts... 

WEIGHT OF PAPER

MESMERISING MINING LAWS

By: Darlene Creamer The minds of potential investors must surely boggle at South Africa’s mesmerising mining law tangle made up of amendments, proposed amendments and the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) Amendment Bill, plus the Mining Charter, four different black economic empowerment... 

MESMERISING MINING LAWS

CORPORATE CARE NOT CANNIBALISM

By: Martin Creamer If firms are overdoing share buy-backs and starving themselves of necessary investment, artificially propped-up share prices will eventually tumble, The Economist outlined this month, while urging investors to ensure that the pay schemes of corporate managers are designed in a way that does not... 

CORPORATE CARE NOT CANNIBALISM

IRON WILLED

By: Darlene Creamer Iron-ore prices may stay at lows of $70/t to 80/t for as long as three years, former BHP Billiton executive Alberto Calderon warns, and fund adviser Liberum cautions that fourth-quarter supply restock is unlikely to lift prices as in prior years. Calderon suggests that iron-ore producers are... 

IRON WILLED

MINING MINEFIELD

By: Darlene Creamer Mining lives, breathes and has its being in new investment. It cannot exist without new investment because it voraciously depletes the very assets that give strength its balance sheet. The long delay around the regulatory framework and the risk that Minerals Ministers have seen fit to mete out to... 

MINING MINEFIELD

DIVERSIFICATION IN REVERSE

By: Darlene Creamer The world’s most valuable mining company is reversing the diversification it put in place only 13 years ago under South African Brian Gilbertson and American Paul Anderson and being split in two under Scot Andrew Mackenzie. Four giant commodity groups will make up the new BHP Billiton and seven... 

DIVERSIFICATION IN REVERSE

BUYBACK OUT OF STARTING BLOCK

By: Darlene Creamer Miner and marketer Glencore is earning kudos for making a firm share buyback commitment. A host of mining analysts heaped lavish praise on the London-, Hong Kong- and now also Johannesburg-listed company for putting the buyback programme under starter’s orders and then providing daily updates on... 

BUYBACK OUT OF STARTING BLOCK
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