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Cartoon

MINING'S NEW SUPERMAN

By: Martin Creamer     16th October 2015 Neal Froneman is using the resources downturn to assemble a suite of diversified assets that could make his Sibanye Gold the new domestic superman as the upturn unfolds. The Sibanye CEO, who has put up his hand to be South Africa’s next mining champion, is wasting no time in bulking up on... 

MINING'S NEW SUPERMAN

UNACCEPTABLE

By: Darlene Creamer     16th October 2015 The recent bombing by the US military of a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, can surely not be justified. MSF is correct to demand an independent investigation of what if views as a war crime. After more than 30 minutes of bombing, 12 MSF staff members and 10... 

UNACCEPTABLE

CHESS STRESS

By: Martin Creamer     9th October 2015 The surprise appointment of Mosebenzi Zwane as South Africa’s new Mineral Resources Minister saw Ngoako Ramatlhodi’s 16-month ministerial spell come to an abrupt end. What is now in store for the hard-pressed mining industry is anyone’s guess. However, at the time of going to press, the new... 

CHESS STRESS

SHOCKING DECEPTION

By: Darlene Creamer     9th October 2015 The admission by German carmaker Volkswagen that it cheated emissions tests in the US by installing devices in diesel engines that could detect when they were being tested, has shocked the world. It is also likely to have a negative effect on diesel vehicles, which have hitherto been held up as... 

SHOCKING DECEPTION

TAKING THE MONKEY OFF VENKAT'S BACK

By: Martin Creamer     2nd October 2015 Gold-mining company Randgold Resources, which has spent two decades honing its discovery and development philosophy, is now leaping into the unknown by undertaking to fix a mine that has huge amounts of historical baggage going back as far as 1897. For AngloGold, the 118-year-old Obuasi gold mine... 

TAKING THE MONKEY OFF VENKAT'S BACK

IN THE CROSSFIRE

By: Darlene Creamer     2nd October 2015 South Africa’s school children are likely to be the real losers unless government and the teachers unions can breach the impasse on the annual national assessments. Both sides have good arguments. But in the end, the assessments are required to offer better visibility of the education system’s... 

IN THE CROSSFIRE

CROSSING SWORDS

By: Martin Creamer     25th September 2015 Mmakau Mining chairperson Bridgette Radebe and Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi have reportedly crossed swords over the Minister’s ratification of the sale to the JSE-listed Exxaro of Total Coal South Africa (TCSA). Mmakau is the 26% black economic empowerment (BEE) partner in TCSA’s... 

CROSSING SWORDS

FLICKERS OF HOPE, BUT . . .

By: Darlene Creamer     25th September 2015 After around 100 days of load-shedding since November, South Africa has experienced relative calm in recent weeks. However, the tight system remains vulnerable to supply disruptions, as was the case recently when Eskom introduced rotational cuts after supply from Mozambique’s Cahora Bassa... 

FLICKERS OF HOPE, BUT . . .

BOUNDLESS BELT BULLYING

By: Martin Creamer     18th September 2015 Mining companies are tightening their belts in unprecedented fashion across the entire mining world. The giants and the minnows are cutting costs, reducing capital expenditure and dropping the word exploration right out of their vocabularies. Suddenly the two words “non core” are appearing as... 

BOUNDLESS BELT BULLYING

RAND RUCTIONS

By: Darlene Creamer     18th September 2015 There is no telling what the South African currency will be trading at by the time you see this cartoon. What is not in doubt, though, is that many South Africans are finding the rand’s decline against the dollar, the euro and the pound most disconcerting. Hopefully, exporters will tap into their... 

RAND RUCTIONS

SICK PLATINUM

By: Martin Creamer     11th September 2015 In their struggle to stem job losses, government, business and labour continue to search for ways to create greater demand for platinum, the precious metal that South Africa has in such abundance but which is failing to fetch even sustainable rand prices. Top brass calculate that most local... 

SICK PLATINUM

STEEL STRESS

By: Darlene Creamer     11th September 2015 The South African steel industry is under major stress, with mills having already been shut and further plant closures on the cards. While government, industry and labour are at last singing from the same ‘survival’ hymn sheet, conditions are such that job losses are inevitable. The extent of the... 

STEEL STRESS

MOMENTOUS IMPLOSION

By: Martin Creamer     4th September 2015 Against the background of the share price of the London- and Johannesburg-listed Lonmin suffering unprecedented implosion, the Marikana-stricken platinum mining company remains committed to much more downsizing. In addition to 1 400 employees already leaving the business, a Section 189... 

MOMENTOUS IMPLOSION

NENE ON NUCLEAR 

By: Darlene Creamer     4th September 2015 In a recent interview with Business Day, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene stressed that it was premature to pronounce on the affordability, or otherwise, of South Africa’s proposed new nuclear build programme. However, he was adamant, that if the programme was unaffordable, it could not be done. 

NENE ON NUCLEAR

LOCKING HORNS

By: Martin Creamer     28th August 2015 The R2-billion that State power utility Eskom is claiming for failure to meet specifications has resulted in Optimum Coal going into business rescue, which is putting Eskom’s 2 000 MW Hendrina power station in a precarious position. Should the business rescue attempt fail, liquidation will... 

LOCKING HORNS

PLANS VS. IMPLEMENTATION

By: Darlene Creamer     28th August 2015 The South African government is punting a nine-point plan to help lift growth and investment, which has slumped amid power and labour instability and falling commodity prices. What South Africans really want to see, though, is greater diligence with regards implementation. 

PLANS VS. IMPLEMENTATION

TIED DOWN

By: Martin Creamer     21st August 2015 Like Gulliver, South Africa’s giant mining industry is being tied down. As Gulliver displeased the powers of Lilliput, the mining industry has displeased government in wanting to reduce employee numbers. As mining leadership has reiterated, decisions to reduce jobs are never taken lightly, with... 

TIED DOWN

TAKING PAIN 

By: Darlene Creamer     21st August 2015 When Brian Molefe was still at Transnet, he insisted on converting the freight-rail utility’s coal-mining clients into take-or-pay customers. Now at Eskom, Molefe is finding out what it is like to be on the other end of a tricky take-or-pay contract, with the power utility paying over... 

TAKING PAIN

JOB JIBES

By: Martin Creamer     14th August 2015 Jobs jibes are flying with mining companies going all out to cut costs to survive and government pleading for job retention. African National Congress secretary general Gwede Mantashe accused Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani of laziness in deciding to cut 6 000 mining jobs and Mineral Resources... 

JOB JIBES

JOBS AT RISK

By: Darlene Creamer     14th August 2015 More than 20 000 workers at big South African enterprises have reportedly been placed on notice in recent weeks that they could face retrenchment. Such news would be devastating in any country. But the trauma is amplified in South Africa, where unemployment is rife and where having a job remains... 

JOBS AT RISK

COMMODITY CRUMBLE

By: Martin Creamer     7th August 2015 The World Bank forecasts that all main commodity price indices will decline in 2015, owing to abundant supplies and, in the case of industrial commodities, weak demand. The outlook is particularly pessimistic for metals prices, which are now projected to decline more as a result of capacity... 

COMMODITY CRUMBLE

GOLD ON THE ROPES

By: Martin Creamer     31st July 2015 Unusually high gold selling last week resulted in gold prices lurching to a five-year low. The most actively traded contract for August delivery fell $3.30, or 0.3%, to settle at $1,103.50 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement since March... 

GOLD ON THE ROPES

EXPERT OPINION

By: Darlene Creamer     31st July 2015 The panel of experts appointed by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom had this to say about South Africa’s new visa rules: “The requirement of biometric visas and unabridged birth certificates is likely to have a real impact on the number of tourists that visit our country. While the intention behind... 

EXPERT OPINION

MINERAL RICH, MINING POOR:  

By: Darlene Creamer     24th July 2015 Despite having been mined intensively for a hundred and plenty years, South Africa still has vast mineral resources. As Ian Robinson points out in his doctoral thesis on the evolution of South African mining, South Africa continues to rank first in chrome, gold, manganese and platinum reserves;... 

MINERAL RICH, MINING POOR:

NUCLEAR OPTION

By: Darlene Creamer     24th July 2015 The Department of Energy (DoE) has indicated hat the procurement process for the acquisition of between six and eight nuclear reactors will kick off this month. The main concern, hitherto batted away by government, relates to the affordability of the programme. The DoE insists it can be financed... 

NUCLEAR OPTION

COMMODITIES CRASH 

By: Martin Creamer     17th July 2015 The prices of metals and minerals have fallen, share prices have tumbled and once mighty mining houses are shaky. Iron-ore at $50/t is bruising, platinum at $1 000/oz is maiming, not even China’s stock rout and the Greek tragedy has lifted gold, diamonds have lost their sparkle to a troubled... 

COMMODITIES CRASH

COLLAPSING CONFIDENCE

By: Darlene Creamer     17th July 2015 The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (Sacci’s) business confidence index fell to a 16-and-a-half-year low in June. The Sacci publication followed hot on the heels of the release of the consumer-confidence print for the second quarter, which collapsed to a 14-and-a-half-year low.... 

COLLAPSING CONFIDENCE

MIXING AND FIXING

By: Martin Creamer     10th July 2015 Both former African National Congress MP Professor Ben Turok and former Eskom adviser Mike Rossouw last week urged government and business to create policies together to end South Africa’s current economic stagflation crisis. Turok lamented South Africa’s policy doldrums and Rossouw its complex... 

MIXING AND FIXING

SOME REPRIEVE

By: Darlene Creamer     10th July 2015 South Africans breathed a sigh of relief on June 29 when the National Energy Regulator of South Africa Nersa rejected Eskom’s application for a further 2015/16 tariff hike in addition to the 12.69% already granted for the year. However, the door has been left open for another approach, so we... 

SOME REPRIEVE

MINING AT THE EDGE 

By: Martin Creamer     3rd July 2015 Several mining companies running into negative margins have already reported their positions to the South African government in compliance with Section 52 of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act, which deems mining companies to have entered dangerous territory when margins fall... 

MINING AT THE EDGE

UNHAPPY TREND

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd July 2015 Whether justified or not, the trend of suspending State-owned company (SoC) executives is nevertheless unsettling. The latest SoC afflicted is embattled oil company PetroSA, where it was finally confirmed that CEO Nosizwe Nokwe-Macamo and CFO Lindiwe Bakoro had been placed on “precautionary... 

UNHAPPY TREND

HUNGRY DRAGON

By: Martin Creamer     26th June 2015 The Chinese dragon is reportedly still keen to devour more of the stressed assets sprawled across South Africa’s headgear country. Proposals by Chinese investors to buy marginal South African precious metal and mineral assets are popping up regularly but few are more visible currently than... 

HUNGRY DRAGON

REPUTATIONAL DAMAGE

By: Darlene Creamer     26th June 2015 South Africa’s reputation as a beacon of hope for the world has been on the wane for some time. But the country arguably reached a new low in the eyes of the international community this month in it’s handling of President Omar al-Bashir visit. Why was he allowed to come in the first place? Why... 

REPUTATIONAL DAMAGE

TIGHTROPE WALKING

By: Martin Creamer     19th June 2015 Global mining’s tough 2014 fight is poised to escalate this year as companies struggle worldwide to emerge from depressed markets, says PwC Africa mining head Michal Kotze. CEOs walking a tightrope cutting costs to match low prices. Aggravating the situation are government intervention, industry... 

TIGHTROPE WALKING

FIFA-FICATION

By: Darlene Creamer     19th June 2015 The news flow surrounding FIFA and South Africa’s 2010 World Cup bid has been depressing to say the least. It has gone some way to undermine the warm feelings most South Africans still have towards the event, which some still contend was one of the best-run in the history of footfall. 

FIFA-FICATION

LET IT FLOW THROUGH

By: Martin Creamer     12th June 2015 Strong calls were made on Wednesday for South Africa to come into line with Canada and Australia by introducing effective incentives for its junior miners as a way of spurring mineral exploration. Bakgatla-Ba-Kgafela Investment Holdings CEO Noah Greenhill urged that a collective go to Treasury to... 

LET IT FLOW THROUGH

CONFIDENCE SAPPING 

By: Darlene Creamer     12th June 2015 The executive’s handling of the entire Nkandla debacle has been poor from the start. But it arguably reached a now low last month when Police Minister Nathi Nhleko presented an entirely unbelievable spin on the non-security components of the upgrade. The entire confidence-sapping scandal has not... 

CONFIDENCE SAPPING

CUTTING’S THE NEW PROFIT:

By: Martin Creamer     5th June 2015 With cost cutting now baked into numbers, the main drivers of relative profitability in the iron-ore sector will be foreign exchange lifts, freight, premiums and discounts for grade and quality. So says London mining analyst firm Liberum Capital, which says that these variables will determine the... 

CUTTING’S THE NEW PROFIT:
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