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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

HUNG OUT TO DRY

By: Darlene Creamer South Africa has got the short end of the stick in the latest BHP Billiton commodity selection. To be demerged out of the group are aluminium, manganese and thermal coal – all South Africa-centric. Stranded by the decision are the Hillside and Mozal aluminium smelters on Southern Africa’s east... 

HUNG OUT TO DRY

VANADIUM BULLS COME OUT TO PLAY

By: Darlene Creamer A sudden flurry in the vanadium space has seen London-Aim-listed Bushveld Minerals step on the gas to bring its low-cost integrated vanadium mining and processing project into the spotlight on the northern limb of South Africa’s mineral-rich Bushveld Complex, in Limpopo. TSX-listed Largo... 

VANADIUM BULLS COME OUT TO PLAY

DIVIDENDS IN THE DRIVING SEAT

By: Darlene Creamer Never in the field of mining endeavour have so many words been devoted to one word – dividends. Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman put an infinite horizon on Sibanye dividend flow at his latest presentation of financial results of the company that came out of Gold Fields barely two years ago. Dividends... 

DIVIDENDS IN THE DRIVING SEAT

MINES FOR SALE

By: Martin Creamer Anglo American plc and BHP Billiton plc, two mining giants that owe their current global status to South Africa’s unequalled resource endowment, have ‘for sale’ signs written all over their South African assets. Hot on the news of Anglo American Platinum announcing its intention to sell the... 

MINES FOR SALE

LIGHT AT END OF DARK PLATINUM TUNNEL

By: Martin Creamer The wage and housing deal that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) struck last week with the Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RBPlat) company is the light at the end of the very dark platinum mining tunnel. Instead of five months of mayhem, the NUM and RBPlat sat around the boardroom table to put the... 

LIGHT AT END OF DARK PLATINUM TUNNEL

HEY THERE BILL, PLEASE CHILL

By: Martin Creamer There are complaints that many aspects of the proposed new legislative framework enshrined in the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) Amendment Bill are bad for business. The latest person to raise his voice against the MPRDA Bill is the Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary... 

HEY THERE BILL, PLEASE CHILL

MPRDA PLAY

By: Martin Creamer South Africa missed the last mining boom as a result of the inadequacy of rail and energy infrastructure – which is in government hands – and could miss the next one as a result of the inadequacy of legislation, the correction of which is also in government hands. The country continues to play... 

MPRDA PLAY

RING IN THE CHANGES

By: Darlene Creamer South Africa’s deep-level precious-metal mines need a new beginning. The five-month platinum strike has highlighted the moral bankruptcy of migrant labour and the financial bankruptcy of current mining methods. Everyone’s help is needed to speed up the phasing in of greater productivity and... 

RING IN THE CHANGES

PLATINUM PROPELLOR HEADS

By: Darlene Creamer Many are scratching their heads at the workings of the platinum futures markets in New York and London and some are saying that its proceedings appear to be holding the platinum price below equitable levels at a time when mineworkers are demanding greater reward for their operational risk.... 

PLATINUM PROPELLOR HEADS

UPHILL BATTLE

By: Darlene Creamer Every time Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) has reported this year, the news has been worse for South Africa’s mining industry, which is in danger of being pushed backwards to a point of slow return or, in parts, no return. The country has fallen behind lowly Peru in gold production. It could... 

UPHILL BATTLE

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING THREATENED

By: Darlene Creamer The prolonged strike in Rustenburg’s platinum belt served to highlight the soundness of gold’s collective bargaining process. But the platinum best’s prolonged strike is also putting pressure on collective bargaining as the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) set out earlier... 

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING THREATENED

GOLD PRICE MANIPULATION

By: Darlene Creamer Barclays Bank trader Daniel Plunkett, 36, saved Barclays £2.3-million ($3.9-million) by deliberately pushing the gold price down on June 28, 2012, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has found. The slap-on-the-wrist fine of £26-million for gold-price manipulation is simply insufficient... 

GOLD PRICE MANIPULATION

BEING BOLD FOR GOLD

By: Martin Creamer Gold-from-dumps company DRDGold is holding thumbs that it can pilot its Ergo plant out of a first-quarter nosedive and back on to horizontal flight by Christmas. To do so, the gold recovery plant in Brakpan will become a veritable research laboratory as the JSE- and NYSE-listed company goes about... 

BEING BOLD FOR GOLD

PLATINUM PAY POT

By: Martin Creamer “Your total package is R17.6-million. Striking workers wanting R12 500 a month would say that’s obscene. Can you justify it?” Radio 702 talk-show host John Robbie asked of Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) CEO Chris Griffith last week. Griffith conceded that in a public debate around executive... 

PLATINUM PAY POT

BUILD/BUY BABBLE BACK

By: Darlene Creamer Build or buy talk is back in the mining sector as the disposals and unbundlings of the majors cause the ears of potentially acquisitive companies to prick up. Under intense discussion is the use of exploration budgets to purchase rather than put up. While Randgold Resources CEO Mark Bristow, for... 

BUILD/BUY BABBLE BACK

FRICTION SETS PLATINUM ON FIRE

By: Darlene Creamer The 16-week strike in Rustenburg’s platinum belt has given way to violence, arson and looting. Freedom Day weekend in the platinum belt saw African National Congress (ANC) election canvassers being stoned, the homes of ANC councillors set alight, the ANC’s Marikana office torched, a National... 

FRICTION SETS PLATINUM ON FIRE

PLATINUM PRICE PUP

By: Darlene Creamer Is the platinum price being kept on a tight leash, the prolonged mining strike notwithstanding? Is this so because the bullion banks of South Africa’s biggest platinum producer are also its platinum customers, shareholders and advisers? Against the background of bullion banks shorting thousands... 

PLATINUM PRICE PUP

UNLOVED ASSETS

By: Darlene Creamer The once-prized Rustenburg assets of Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) are being hocked. “The workers haven’t pitched and the owners want us ditched,” is the lament of the central shaft in this Mining Weekly cartoon. The mechanised Mogalakwena to the north is the new Amplats darling, from which... 

UNLOVED ASSETS

REMOVING THE ECLIPSE

By: Darlene Creamer South African politicians often refer to the progress that has been made in transforming the South African mining sector from a “sunset business” into a “sunrise industry”. But most big and small mining company heads continue to appeal for a removal of legislative and regulatory ‘eclipse’ that... 

REMOVING THE ECLIPSE

THE UNKINDEST CUT OF ALL

By: Martin Creamer Striking mineworkers have made the platinum business a challenging one for Anglo American, promoting a Reuters report that quotes Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani as saying that disposal of the strike-hit Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) could be an option if it failed to perform as well as the... 

THE UNKINDEST CUT OF ALL

COPPER COMES A CROPPER

By: Darlene Creamer The fall in the price of copper is being linked to China’s alleged use of it as a blunt instrument to help Chinese authorities restore balance in the Chinese economy. According to the Financial Times of London, copper has been used in the Chinese economy as collateral security in many financial... 

COPPER COMES A CROPPER
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