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NEGATIVELY TILTED

By: Darlene Creamer     30th September 2016 In mining, the peaks are supposed to be high and troughs low, but with the overall mining picture still being negatively tilted for the past eight years, the days of stronger-for-longer seem part of the distant past. Being a low-cost producer is now regarded as being absolutely essential to... 

NEGATIVELY TILTED

BIG SHOES

By: Darlene Creamer     30th September 2016 South Africa’s much-loved Public Protector Thuli Madonsela will make way for Busisiwe Mkhwebane when her term ends next month. Madonsela succeeded, against all the odds, in elevating the Chapter 9 institution to a level few could have imagined when she assumed office in 2009. The net result is... 

BIG SHOES

BACK IN REVERSE

By: Martin Creamer     23rd September 2016 ANZ Research senior commodity strategist Daniel Hynes says that when the price of a commodity rises by 117% in a mere 15 weeks, as the price of metallurgical coal did, it is generally a sign of something being amiss. What happened was  Chinese coking coal output fell and that plus a tight... 

BACK IN REVERSE

EXPECT FALLOUT 

By: Darlene Creamer     23rd September 2016 The South African government’s decision to press ahead with the release of a request for proposals from nuclear vendors is likely to face social and political fallout. This is particularly so as the tender is being released at a time when demand is flat to falling and given that there appears to... 

EXPECT FALLOUT

PLATINUM CLIFF

By: Martin Creamer     16th September 2016 Outgoing Implats CEO Terence Goodlace can see a platinum supply cliff ahead, concurring Northam Platinum CEO Paul Dunne has put growth projects in place to supply into the rising price environment market the supply shortage will create and the World Platinum Investment Council foresees a 2016 in... 

PLATINUM CLIFF

DOWNGRADE DEADLINE

By: Darlene Creamer     16th September 2016 The welcome announcement by Statistics South Africa that the domestic economy expanded by 3.3% in the second quarter was immediately tempered by warnings that the economy is still likely to move sideways for 2016 as a whole. In other words, the ratings agencies will be looking for signals... 

DOWNGRADE DEADLINE

THE ROCKET TAKES OFF

By: Martin Creamer     9th September 2016 The ‘R’ in DRDGold stands for Roodepoort, which led to DRDGold being nicknamed the Roodepoort Rocket, because the DRDGold share price took off every time the gold price ticked up. It started doing that again following last year’s Nenegate and then after this year’s Brexit. It did so to such an... 

THE ROCKET TAKES OFF

POOR GOVERNANCE COSTS

By: Darlene Creamer     9th September 2016 News that South African fixed-income asset manager Futuregrowth has stopped lending to some State-owned companies highlights the very real risks that lenders are now seeing as a result of governance breakdowns at these firms. Futuregrowth was particularly concerned about developments at Eskom,... 

POOR GOVERNANCE COSTS

DEMANDING TO COME THROUGH

By: Martin Creamer     2nd September 2016 Is commodity demand slowly beginning to get the upper hand? Ivan Glasenberg, the CEO of mining and marketing company Glencore, has for long contended that the problem is not on the demand side but on the over-supply side. “Demand’s there,” Glasenberg told Mining Weekly last week. “The problem is... 

DEMANDING TO COME THROUGH

SPECTRUM SPECTRE

By: Darlene Creamer     2nd September 2016 Whether or not the creation of a ‘Broadband War Room’ will put paid to the legal dispute between Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa over the auctioning of much –needed spectrum was far from clear at the time... 

SPECTRUM SPECTRE

IN FOR A 'GRYLLING'

By: Martin Creamer     26th August 2016 In an unprecedented move, two mining companies are being singled out for special tax treatment by Western Australian political party leader Brendon Grylls, who has been officially sworn in as leader of the WA Nationals party. Grylls has ruffled feathers by announcing he wants to introduce a $5/t... 

IN FOR A 'GRYLLING'

SOLAR SYNERGY

By: Darlene Creamer     26th August 2016 While there are still a number of critics of Elon Musk’s $2.6-billion move to merge electric car and battery maker Tesla with struggling SolarCity, the serial entrepreneur’s vision for the merged entity seems compelling. SolarCity’s rooftop solar panels will produce enough electricity to store in... 

SOLAR SYNERGY

ADDING PEP TO THE SPARKLE

By: Martin Creamer     19th August 2016 Christo Wiese, a name synonymous Pep Stores, is part of the consortium of investors taking control of Trans Hex, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed diamond-mining company. Interestingly, before Wiese’s time with Pep, the current Shoprite chairperson was involved with Octha diamonds. If one... 

ADDING PEP TO THE SPARKLE

MYTHS BUSTED

By: Darlene Creamer     19th August 2016 Urban voters shattered a number of electoral myths during the recent local government elections. President Jacob Zuma’s much-quoted mantra that the African National Congress (ANC) would rule until “Jesus returns” became the source of some derision as the party lost voter support in key... 

MYTHS BUSTED

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY

By: Martin Creamer     12th August 2016 With the gold is still 41% below the levels seen in 2011, Sharps Pixley CEO Ross Norman sees a golden opportunity to buy gold now. What South African gold miners are finding an even bigger golden opportunity is mining gold now, which in rands is fetching record prices above the R600 000/kg level.... 

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY

ELUSIVE GROWTH

By: Darlene Creamer     12th August 2016 Without far higher levels of economic growth, South Africa will have little chance of dealing with its serious social problems of unemployment, poverty and inequality. Sadly, it appears less and less likely that South Africa will grow at all during 2016, while the 5%-plus target contained in the... 

ELUSIVE GROWTH

THINK ZINC

By: Martin Creamer     5th August 2016 Unloved for so long, zinc is back in fashion, with investors showing great affection for the bluish-white lustrous metallic element. Used to galvanise and protect steel from corrosion, zinc has jumped 40% this year to make it the best-performing industrial metal, according to Bloomberg. Currently... 

THINK ZINC

RENEWABLE RUCTIONS

By: Darlene Creamer     5th August 2016 Simmering tensions between Eskom and renewable-energy independent power producers (IPPs) burst into the open last month, when the State-owned utility sent a letter to the Energy Minister indicating that it would not connect any further IPPs until it had consultations. The outcome of the power... 

RENEWABLE RUCTIONS

FREE, FAIR & PEACEFUL

By: Darlene Creamer     29th July 2016 With countdowns to the Rio Olympics and South Africa’s municipal elections truly under way, issues of fairness are top of mind. Following less than harmonious run-ups, the actual events will hopefully make for far more pleasant viewing. In South Africa free, fair and, most importantly, peaceful... 

FREE, FAIR & PEACEFUL

SPROUTING WINGS

By: Martin Creamer     29th July 2016 The world is doing what has been its custom throughout the centuries. It falls back on the only real way of preserving buying power. It buys gold. Little wonder that the global gold holdings of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are topping the 2 000 t mark for the first time in three years. There is a... 

SPROUTING WINGS

BUBBLE TROUBLE

By: Martin Creamer     22nd July 2016 Former Federal Reserve luminary Alan Greenspan famously coined the term "irrational exuberance" in referring to asset bubbles, which occur when large overvaluations of assets balloon and then end in grief. Resource Maven newsletter writer Gwen Preston claims in an interview with Mining Weekly... 

BUBBLE TROUBLE

NOT SO SWEET

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd July 2016 The National Treasury has released draft details of its proposed sugar tax amid concerns form some quarters about the efficacy of such a tax in dealing with the scourge of obesity. What is apparent – to the cynics anyway – is that the introduction of a new tax could help fatten government... 

NOT SO SWEET

DOLLARS FROM HEAVEN

By: Martin Creamer     15th July 2016 Dollars are falling from the sky into the gold sector. Global gold holdings in exchange traded funds (ETFs) have topped 2 000 t for the first time since June 2013, which Sharps Pixley-reported commentator Tyler Durden calculates is equal to Switzerland’s gold holdings times two and a quarter of... 

DOLLARS FROM HEAVEN

PUBLIC RUCTIONS

By: Darlene Creamer     15th July 2016 Be it the South African Broadcasting Corporation, South African Airways, or Eskom State-owned companies are never far from controversy or conflict. Having remained somewhat out of sight in recent years, the Strategic Fuel Fund has been the latest headline grabber. Firstly, it surprised many by... 

PUBLIC RUCTIONS

GOLDEN BLASTOFF

By: Martin Creamer     8th July 2016 Gold, which has risen 25% this year, is holding on to its Brexit gains, as investors make use of its safe haven status to keep it above the $1 300/oz mark. Schroders fund managers Mark Lacey and James Luke emphasise that gold equities in particular are offering a compelling investment case. They... 

GOLDEN BLASTOFF

FUNDING GAP

By: Darlene Creamer     8th July 2016 There is little question that government is correct to aspire to a different model for the funding of healthcare, with serious efforts needed to close the current gap in the quality of service available to rich and poor South Africans. However, there is concern that government may be... 

FUNDING GAP

HYDROCARBONS STANDOFF

By: Martin Creamer     1st July 2016 A tug of hydrocarbons love could well play itself out in the next few months as two government departments vie for the control of upstream oil and gas regulation. While the Department of Energy (DoE) seems tailor-made for the job, the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) is proceeding on the... 

HYDROCARBONS STANDOFF

SWITCHED ON

By: Darlene Creamer     1st July 2016 Increasingly, access to the Internet is being seen not merely as a nice to have, but as an essential social, educational and economic tool. Last month, the world celebrated ‘World Wi-Fi Day’ on June 20. Some providers marked the occasion by extending free services for a short period. No doubt a... 

SWITCHED ON

BACK FROM THE BRINK

By: Martin Creamer     24th June 2016 In October last year, 120 people assembled for five weeks to develop a strategy for South Africa’s beleaguered mining industry. They did so under the banner of Phakisa or Hurry Up and one of this initiative’s tangible outcomes has been the reopening of the old Comro mining research organisation.... 

BACK FROM THE BRINK

STIMULUS NEEDED

By: Darlene Creamer     24th June 2016 Despite recent reprieves from three credit rating agencies, it is painfully clear that South Africa is not out of the woods, with further reviews likely before year-end. Cabinet itself has noted that the June affirmations simply provide the country with the “necessary space” to continue... 

STIMULUS NEEDED

THE REVERSE OF A CURSE

By: Martin Creamer     17th June 2016 The African National Congress (ANC) appears to have let up on its previous firm demand that the Mining Charter be enforced by an Act of Parliament. The approach was viewed by the mining industry as conferring legislative powers on the executive in violating the rule of law. This set the private... 

THE REVERSE OF A CURSE

REPRIEVE NOT RELIEF

By: Darlene Creamer     17th June 2016 As highlighted by a number of commentators – and acknowledged by government itself – the recent reprieve given to South Africa by S&P Global Ratings is but the ‘end of the beginning’. The initiatives being pursued jointly by government, business and labour will have to be implemented to ensure... 

REPRIEVE NOT RELIEF

NEW MINDSET IN THE MAKING

By: Martin Creamer     10th June 2016 The African Union (AU) is to launch an African Minerals Development Centre so as to ensure that African governments are better equipped to negotiate better mining and exploration terms and contracts. AU chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma told last week’s Junior Indaba in Johannesburg that the... 

NEW MINDSET IN THE MAKING

TOP OF MIND

By: Darlene Creamer     10th June 2016 How can South Africa reignite economic growth? That’s the question occupying the minds of policymakers and business leaders. It’s generally accepted that growth alone cannot fully address the problems of unemployment, poverty and inequality. However, without growth, South Africa has no chance of... 

TOP OF MIND

DIAMOND EXCHANGE

By: Martin Creamer     3rd June 2016 Philippe Mellier, who will be 61 this year, is passing the De Beers baton on to CEO-designate Bruce Cleaver, who is ten years his junior, but with twice the years’ service at the world’s biggest diamond producer by value. Cleaver co-acted as De Beers CEO  between Gareth Penny’s departure and... 

DIAMOND EXCHANGE

ON THE BRINK

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd June 2016 Standard & Poor’s releases its much anticipated ratings review of South Africa today. The agency currently rates South Africa at BBB- and on negative watch – only one notch above junk. By the time to see this, you may well know the answer the question posed above: “Will it be Recession or... 

ON THE BRINK

PROXIMATE PLATINUM PROBLEM

By: Martin Creamer     27th May 2016 The latest set of financial results of platinum mining company Lonmin had the company turning the corner. The share price rose sharply as cash flowed on higher platinum sales. But Lonmin CEO Ben Magara was quick to remind shareholders of the platinum industry’s next challenge of new wage talks... 

PROXIMATE PLATINUM PROBLEM

DANGEROUS TERRITORY

By: Darlene Creamer     27th May 2016 Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s letter following news of his possible arrest made for frightening reading. These paragraphs were particularly unsettling: “It is indeed true, that no one is above the law. But no one should be subjected to the manipulation of the law and agencies for ulterior... 

DANGEROUS TERRITORY
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