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SHOCKING DISPLAY

By: Darlene Creamer     27th February 2015 National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete may have laid the blame squarely on the Department of State Security for the unlawful use of a cell-phone jamming device ahead of the State of the Nation address on February 12. But that does not exonerate her from a range of other transgressions and... 

SHOCKING DISPLAY

ANGEL INVESTOR

By: Darlene Creamer     20th February 2015 There will be an inclination by some to see the offer Chinese capital management group Heaven-Sent has made for the struggling Johannesburg-listed Village Main Reef precious-metals mining company to be taken literally as something that has been sent from heaven to assist this junior that has... 

ANGEL INVESTOR

CONFIDENCE SAPPING

By: Darlene Creamer     20th February 2015 South Africa’s weak economic performance is already making it hard for investors, domestic or foreign, to put money into expansionary projects. But add into the mix the country’s electricity instability, which appears set to be with us for some time, and the outlook becomes that much more bleak. 

CONFIDENCE SAPPING

GOLDEN TURNAROUND

By: Darlene Creamer     13th February 2015 Neal Froneman and his Sibanye Gold team have done well to devise a turnaround at the loss-making Cooke 4 gold-mine shaft on Gauteng’s West Rand and keep 213 more mineworkers employed than was originally expected by adding an additional 22 working shifts, which will bring in R50-million more... 

GOLDEN TURNAROUND

OIL WINDFALL 

By: Darlene Creamer     13th February 2015 There is no question that consumers are enjoying a nice little windfall as a result of the dramatic fall in the oil price. But translating this short-term gain into sustainable benefits for households and the economy is easier said that done. 

OIL WINDFALL

DIAMOND PRICE LAID BARE

By: Darlene Creamer     6th February 2015 Diamond price weakness will continue until new sources of liquidity are found, say Liberum Capital mining analysts Ben Davis and Richard Knights. The share price of London-listed Gem Diamonds fell sharply after Petra Diamonds announced it was experiencing weak pricing and the analysts are... 

DIAMOND PRICE LAID BARE

DECLINE IN PERFORMANCE

By: Darlene Creamer     6th February 2015 The steep rise in unplanned outages from Eskom existing coal-fired fleet is a key reason for the return to load shedding. Until the State-owned utility recovers the performance of its existing power stations, even much needed new capacity will be insufficient to ensure supply stability. 

DECLINE IN PERFORMANCE

MINEWORKER CASH BURN 

By: Martin Creamer     30th January 2015 Mineworkers lost R16.8-million in forfeited wages and benefits during last week’s illegal seven-day strike at Northam’s Zondereinde platinum mine in Limpopo province. That followed the R100-million loss by the same mineworkers during their 2013/14 strike and the absolutely colossal R24-billion... 

MINEWORKER CASH BURN

LABOUR CROSSHAIRS

By: Darlene Creamer     30th January 2015 Its too early to forecast what the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa’s new supply-chain-based organising model will mean for it, the future of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the Cosatu affiliates on whose toes Numsa will undoubtedly tread. But the development... 

LABOUR CROSSHAIRS

CAPSIZED JUNIORS

By: Martin Creamer     23rd January 2015 Low commodity price waves have overturned several junior mining companies as the mining sector goes into 2015 a little worse for wear. Two coal juniors, the Sydney-listed ZYL and the London Aim-listed Beacon Hill, put themselves into voluntary administration last week; antimony junior Cons Murch... 

CAPSIZED JUNIORS

HIGH NOON 

By: Darlene Creamer     23rd January 2015 President Jacob Zuma, who has avoided Parliament ever since the #paybackthemoney shouting match, is due to deliver his State of the Nation Address in the National Assembly on Thursday February 12. The tension is already building, with some expecting a Western-style showdown. Much is at stake,... 

HIGH NOON

PRICE DISCOMFORT

By: Martin Creamer     16th January 2015 Weak currencies do provide a cushion in times of commodity price fall but the extent to which they are doing that in the current low price environment is, in the main, failing to take away enough hardness. What is worse is that the current commodity price fall does not appear to have short-term... 

PRICE DISCOMFORT

TIME FOR SOLIDARITY

By: Darlene Creamer     16th January 2015 South African flag adapted and flipped in solidarity with the people of France. 

PLATINUM PURGE 

By: Darlene Creamer     12th December 2014 A spotlight is at last being shone into the dark area of secret platinum stocks, which have been befuddling our platinum price right through the longest period of under supply in South Africa’s history – the five-month strike on the platinum belt. This light is giving a glimpse of what the new... 

PLATINUM PURGE

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

By: Darlene Creamer     12th December 2014 Nobody would disagree that 2014 has been a difficult year for South Africans. The economy underperformed, the electricity constraints became more visible than ever, and the industrial relations and political climate (notwithstanding a fairly successful election) was hostile to say the least. The... 

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

TAILING TINTO

By: Darlene Creamer     5th December 2014 A banker who played a key role in the BHP Billiton merger has reportedly told fund managers in London that the coming together of Rito Tinto and Glencore is inevitable, despite the rebuff Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg received from Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh when he raised the possibility earlier... 

TAILING TINTO

STILL FRAGILE

By: Darlene Creamer     5th December 2014 South Africa's gross domestic product grew by an annualised 1.4% quarter-on-quarter in the third quarter of 2014, from a revised 0.5% in the second. The recovery came amid still fragile investor confidence, the rebuilding of which will be vital if the South African economy hopes to close in on... 

STILL FRAGILE

GOLD HELPING DIAMONDS TO SPARKLE

By: Darlene Creamer     28th November 2014 Gold miner Dr Mark Bristow has increased his interest in Rockwell Diamonds by making a unsecured convertible debenture investment of C$1.1-million in the company. Principal shareholder and beneficiation partner Daboll simultaneously added another C$3-million, taking the total raised to... 

GOLD HELPING DIAMONDS TO SPARKLE

TSUNAMI WARNING

By: Darlene Creamer     28th November 2014 As South Africans gear up for their summer holidays, calls for greater vigilance against criminality rise. But unless practical remedies are found to the country’s unemployment, poverty and inequality problems the ground remains fertile not only for crime, but also social instability. 

TSUNAMI WARNING

PRECIOUS STRESS

By: Darlene Creamer     21st November 2014 Chinese companies are featuring increasingly in bidding for stressed South African mining assets in general and precious metal assets in particular. Central Rand Gold, which mines under the golden city of Johannesburg, is considering selling out to Hiria of Hong Kong for $150-million cash.... 

PRECIOUS STRESS

GLOOMY SHADOW

By: Darlene Creamer     21st November 2014 The South African economy simply failed to live up to expectations in 2014. And unless serious efforts are made to deal with chronic constraints – from electricity shortages and labour strife, to weak investor-confidence levels – the prognosis for 2015 will not be much better. 

GLOOMY SHADOW

SPARKLING CURTAIN OPENING

By: Darlene Creamer     14th November 2014 For a hundred and plenty years, price opacity has reigned in the diamond industry, with live spot prices being conspicuous by their absence and diamond major De Beers refusing to disclose its selling prices. Now, as the Internet forces more transparency on the industry and Anglo American becomes... 

SPARKLING CURTAIN OPENING

NO LONGER BOREDROOMS

By: Darlene Creamer     14th November 2014 South Africans have become used to some quite colourful, even extreme, behaviour from their Parliamentarians. But the corporate boardroom can now no longer be considered a ‘boredroom’. Whether its PPC, HCI or South African Airways there is never a dull moment, it seems. 

NO LONGER BOREDROOMS

GROWING APPETITE

By: Darlene Creamer     7th November 2014 Rio Tinto’s revelation that Glencore had contacted it about a potential merger indicates that Glencore’s mega merger-and-acquisition appetite has returned after fully digesting Xstrata. Investec mining analysts see such a merger as being potentially aided by Chinalco, Rio’s 9.8% Chinese... 

GROWING APPETITE

STILL A STRUGGLE

By: Darlene Creamer     7th November 2014 Some of the forward-looking indicators have turned positive for South Africa’s embattled manufacturers. However, there is no denying that conditions remain difficult. Domestic and international demand is still patchy and input and labour prices have increased materially. Some must be wondering... 

STILL A STRUGGLE

BOOKKEEPING BREATHER

By: Darlene Creamer     31st October 2014 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

BINDING CONSTRAINT

By: Darlene Creamer     31st October 2014 There is little likelihood that South Africa’s electricity constraints will ease materially even after the first Medupi unit is introduced. In addition, a tariff hike of nearly 12.7% has been approved for introduction from April 1, 2015, with a possibility of more hikes, despite a recent... 

BINDING CONSTRAINT

RETURN THE CROWN

By: Darlene Creamer     24th October 2014 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

FISSION & FRICTION 

By: Darlene Creamer     24th October 2014 The outcry over the Department of Energy’s agreement with Rosatom was more about a perceived breach of process than about nuclear energy as a technology. But the opponents to nuclear are gearing up for stout resistance, which is likely to only truly come to the fore once a preferred site is... 

FISSION & FRICTION

IRON-ORE PIÑATA  

By: Darlene Creamer     17th October 2014 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

DIFFICULT EQUATION

By: Darlene Creamer     17th October 2014 Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene will have his task cut out for him when he presents the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement on October 22. It’s going to be a tall order indeed to align rising fiscal demands and weak revenue flows without proposing new tax increases. 

DIFFICULT EQUATION

WEIGHT OF PAPER

By: Darlene Creamer     10th October 2014 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

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WASTE

By: Darlene Creamer     10th October 2014 Admittedly, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi has been able to show material progress in dealing with irregular expenditure at the Department of Public Works (DPW) over the past five years. However, citizens are justified in regarding DPW as the ‘Department of Public Waste’, especially after... 

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WASTE

MESMERISING MINING LAWS

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd October 2014 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

FAREWELL

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd October 2014 The announcement that Gill Marcus would be stepping down as South Africa’s first woman governor of the South African Reserve Bank came as a surprise and was also associated with a fall in the rand. The reason? Marcus was seen to be doing a good job, having used her term to improve the level of... 

FAREWELL

CORPORATE CARE NOT CANNIBALISM

By: Martin Creamer     26th September 2014 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

UNHAPPY RELATIONSHIP

By: Darlene Creamer     26th September 2014 South Africa, correctly, wants to stem deindustrialisation and raise output from its manufacturing sector. However, an inverse relationship seems to have developed between manufacturing output, which fell again last month, and the ever-loudening calls for industrialisation. Let’s hope it ends soon. 

UNHAPPY RELATIONSHIP

IRON WILLED

By: Darlene Creamer     19th September 2014 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
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