01/04/2011 (On-The-Air)

1st April 2011

Every Friday morning, SAfm’s AMLive’s radio anchor speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript with stand-in anchor Elvis Presslin:

Presslin: One of the world’s richest coal discoveries has been made in neighbouring Mozambique.

Creamer: This is a remarkable discovery Tete province in Mozambique. There is no excuse now for that province not to be the Queensland of Africa, because if you go to Australia and you see how powerful Queensland is, its underpinned by what is called the Bowen Basin. There is so much coal in there and it is also metallurgical coal.

Now it is a similar type of basin we’ve got right here in neighbouring Mozambique. It could be a fantastic source of wealth and jobs and prosperity for the country. We see the biggest mining company’s going in there. Rio Tinto, one of the biggest has just bought 40% of Riversdale, which means that it is very intent on putting in railway lines and power stations.

The Brazilians are already there Vale, also wanting to put in power stations and railway lines. There is going to be a lot of infrastructure there and we see this as a test for Africa. Can we do something with this great wealth and build something that will be equivalent to Queensland in Australia.

Presslin: A South African gold miner is beating all the odds in the war-torn Ivory Coast.

Creamer: This is an incredible story. We have war-torn country where our Randgold Resources, I can remember it being formed 16-years ago down the road in Selby then put on the London Stock Exchange, going into Africa doing a fantastic job. Now, right in the heart of Côte d’Ivoire, this company has been operating and it has weathered the storm.

The community are so close to this company that it is untouchable. It is still continuing to explore right throughout the problems of that country. It is in the north which does insulate it a bit and it is working with the same State officials that it was in the past. They are still talking about a quarter million ounces of gold coming out of there during this troubled period.

Their only real hassle has been logistics. So again, a great feather in the cap for South Africa. Randgold Resources, Dr Mark Bristow a great geologist. I’ve been in Mali where the people have cheered him, they’ve ululated for him, because before he came, they used to earn in a year what they are now earning in month.

So very popular there and we can also see the resilience of the South Africans and Dr Bristow when we look at the Australians Newcrest Gold which has ceased operations.

Presslin: A South African mine bought for R1 a year ago is now worth hundreds of millions of rands, thanks to rocketing antimony prices.

Creamer: This is the incredible opportunity that is coming about because of the soaring prices of metals and minerals. In this case, this is a little mine, you know when you say in mining you’ve either got a dog or a diamond. This was regarded as a dog and nobody wanted it, except for Village Main Reef.

This is a company listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange that looks for stressed assets and assets in decline. There are a lot of them around here, even though we’ve got this great boom in the metals and minerals. They snapped up Consolidated Murchinson an antimony and gold mine.

In the past ten years the price of antimony has gone from $6 000 a ton to $16 000 a ton. We now see with Village Main Reef actually headed by a turn around specialist Bernard Swanepoel. He built Harmony Gold, he turned around all those assets. They are talking about it being worth R100-million. Now this if for something bought from R1.

This is a fantastic return and it shows you the possibilities for this little company Village that is going to have a strategy of buying, fixing and selling and putting assets also on the stock exchange. They’ve just absorbed Simmer and Jack, a big brand. They’ve absorbed those assets and we can see them also now putting intensive turn around applications to them.

Presslin: Any mining news we should know Martin?

Creamer: The mining space is so active at the moment and it is all drawn and the driver is this great demand coming out of Asia. Not only have you got China pulling and lifting the prices, we’ve also got a situation in India, which in ten to 15-years will be doing the same thing.

Hopefully one day we will see Africa also provide demand for those metals and minerals. At the moment Africa is a supplier of those metals and minerals and it is seen to be a growing supplier. In time we hope there will be so much growth and prosperity on this continent that we will also become a driver of demand for those metals and minerals.

Presslin: And beneficiation isn’t it?

Creamer: Beneficiation is a big word. The ‘B’ word is all over and no matter where you go you see it on peoples lips. This might be the new era for mining, where we add value. You see now with the revised mining charter you can earn 11% credit for beneficiating.

In other words, you are supposed to give away 26% of your shares to a black-economic empowerment partner in terms of the revised mining charter, but if you beneficiate you can get 11% of that in beneficiation and not in ownership handover.

Presslin: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly, he’ll be back with us at the same time next week.