Every Friday, SAfm’s radio anchor Sakina Kamwendo speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript:
Kamwendo: A Botswana-listed exploration company has made an important diamond discovery in Limpopo.
Creamer: We have been trying to promote exploration in South Africa. We haven’t really got really far. Now, we see Botswana Diamonds coming in. This is listed in Botswana and London. So, what we are finding is that exploration companies are unable to raise capital on the stock exchange in South Africa.
The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) is not a source of primary capital for companies wanting to explore. I think that the National Treasury and the government and JSE are going to have sit down and work out if they want exploration here to save our mines, they are going to have to make sure that it is worth listing on the JSE. We can take our hats off to Botswana Diamonds, because they come in and have already discovered diamonds in Limpopo.
They have had the diamonds valued under Section 20 of our legislation and they do that to find out exactly what the value is. They are very happy with the value and they are now drawing up a plan to have a diamond resource firmed up in Limpopo. The place is called Thorny River and it is very close to Marsfontein. We know that Marsfontein had a successful diamond exploration some time back when Southern Era and De Beers found diamonds there. In fact, they paid for all their investment in three and a half days. I am talking about days, the investment was paid off in three and a half days. That is how valuable these diamonds are in that area.
It seems that we need to do a lot of work still to get exploration going in this country. Already, Botswana Diamonds is, of course, looking in Botswana and Zimbabwe. It will be negative for South Africa if they have far more success there than in South Africa, because of the lack of access to finance, which we need to work out in this country, because all the other jurisdictions, Canada, Australia, they know how to get exploration going. We don’t.
Kamwendo: Yamkela Makupula has clinched a sparkling alluvial diamond deal in the Northern Cape.
Creamer: Yes, Yamkela Makupula, she has done this within her personal capacity. She is the head of an international law firm, but she has been watching the diamond success of the Northern Cape, particularly alluvial diamond mining in the Middle Orange River. She has now, in her personal capacity, gone out and bought 30% of three diamond companies.
The one is the Pioneer Tender House, which sells the diamonds, and then Northern Spark and Nastoplex. She is absolutely thrilled with her partnership there. The people from these companies, who mine and market alluvial diamonds, really know what they are doing. She says although alluvial diamond mining in the area has got far smaller, it has diminished substantially in the last 15 years, she points to it being previous employer of 25 000 people, 15 years ago, and it is now down to 5 000 people. One of the things she does in Africa is try and promote jobs. This is the aspect that she has seen first of all, that this is a great job creator. She feels that because it has shrunk to the extent it has, if they get the necessary legislative framework there, they are going to be able to employ a lot of people.
his is her keenness and first priority. Of course, it also seems to be poised to make a lot of money at the same time, because through Pioneer Selling House they found that the international community is really keen on the diamonds found in the Middle Orange. These are high value diamonds. They are talking about $3 000 per carat, which is really good. The sale so far has attracted a lot of people through this Pioneer Trading Tender House. They are going to have another international auction soon, because of the diamonds that they have recovered.
Kamwendo: Gold was this week highlighted as a refuge of choice by the new incoming CEO of AngloGold Ashanti.
Creamer: Alberto Calderon has been appointed the new CEO of AngloGold Ashanti. He is from Colombia, in South America, but he is talking about the situation in the world at the moment, where he says that the central banks of the United States, Europe and Australia printing money like there’s no tomorrow. Because of the Covid crisis we have had, debt is rising to higher levels.
This has made him very keen to be in gold and so keen to be part of AngloGold Ashanti, because gold in a world of rising debt is going to be the refuge of choice, he forecasts. He sees money as losing its value and inflation rising. What he is going to do is concentrate on making sure that the discount South African mines have suffered, and AngloGold Ashanti has been a victim of that, is significantly diminished, and that there is fair value for all investors in AngloGold Ashanti.
He also wants to help out with the exploration that is being done in Colombia, his place of birth, where AngloGold Ashanti was searching for gold, but they came across a treasure chest of copper. He is also very keen now on getting copper into the world, because it is a climate change mitigator. So, he sees a big future ahead for AngloGold Ashanti, which is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly.