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INTENSIVE CARE

By: Darlene Creamer     12th July 2019 Conditions in South Africa’s manufacturing sector remain more than challenging. The seasonally adjusted Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) increased marginally in June to 46.2 points, but the average level for the second quarter remained below the 50-point threshold that separates comtraction from... 

INTENSIVE CARE

KEEN TO BE GREEN:

By: Martin Creamer     5th July 2019 South Africans are holding thumbs that manganese will make its mark as an electric vehicle (EV) metals. The world’s original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are giving it a change to show off its resolve, which has put it in a race against cobalt, nickel and aluminium. They are all keen to be... 

KEEN TO BE GREEN:

STUMPED

By: Darlene Creamer     5th July 2019 With South Africans still were licking their wounds after a dismal Proteas batting performance at the Cricket World Cup, Eskom financial problems rose again like a hostile bouncer from England’s young pace bowler Jofra Archer. While a R230-billion, ten-year injection have been confirmed by the... 

STUMPED

BUCKLE UP FOR BUMPY RIDES:

By: Martin Creamer     28th June 2019 The fallout from the under-reporting of exhaust emission by Volkswagen has been extremely hard on diesel car sales, which have fallen over a cliff. Regrettably, diesel’s demise became very bad news for platinum but very good news for palladium, which soared in price as the market turned to... 

BUCKLE UP FOR BUMPY RIDES:

TIME TO FALL

By: Darlene Creamer     28th June 2019 The unsavoury and depressing revelations at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture continue to flow. All the large State-owned companies – Eskom, Transnet and South African Airways – have made their representations and their confessions, while the Bosasa disclosures offered insight into the... 

TIME TO FALL

FIRST PHASE HAZE:

By: Martin Creamer     21st June 2019 The Treasury has been realistic in taking a phased approach to carbon tax, which would have broken the kneecaps of beneficiating smelters had it been let loose in its original form. While some British newspapers are insisting that the words ‘climate change’ must be replaced with ‘climate crisis’... 

FIRST PHASE HAZE:

POLICY TUG OF WAR

By: Darlene Creamer     21st June 2019 The battle, within the African National Congress, for control over the direction of economic policy has always been a highly contested one. In recent years, however, it has escalated to the status of civil war. Given the disastrous state of the economy and the desperate need for an investment-led... 

POLICY TUG OF WAR

CHEAPER ELECTRICITY ESSENTIAL FOR COMPETITIVE MINING:

By: Martin Creamer     14th June 2019 Mining and electricity are joined at the hip. Regrettably, a public-sector power monopoly has been allowed to drag down a vital private-sector led industry. Now there is an opportunity to shed the monopoly and free up that vital industry to be competitive. With the help of the sun and the wind,... 

CHEAPER ELECTRICITY ESSENTIAL FOR COMPETITIVE MINING:

LEADERSHIP SHEDDING

By: Darlene Creamer     14th June 2019 The resignations, in quick succession, of Phakamani Hadebe and Vuyani Jarana point to the likelihood that the crises at Eskom and South African Airways respectively are even deeper than initially acknowledged. These leadership vacuums will, no doubt, be filled. Unless the roles and... 

LEADERSHIP SHEDDING

DEATHS BRING IRON-ORE TO LIFE:

By: Martin Creamer     7th June 2019 The grossly negligent management of iron-ore tailings dams in Brazil has caused  the iron-ore price to soar to undeservedly high levels. The focus of the offending Brazilian company on paying higher dividends rather than investing in safe mine waste storage dams is more monstrous than the 232... 

DEATHS BRING IRON-ORE TO LIFE:

ROCK & HARD PLACE

By: Darlene Creamer     7th June 2019 News of Phakamani Hadebe’s resignation as Eskom CEO was treated with precisely that: resignation. South Africans have come to terms with the fact that leading the State-owned utility in its current form is an extremely difficult task. Nevertheless, it’s a task that has to be undertaken and... 

ROCK & HARD PLACE

ROLL OUT THE SMART TAPE:

By: Martin Creamer     31st May 2019 ROLL OUT THE SMART TAPE: Minerals Council South Africa CEO Roger Baxter has called for mining smart tape to be rolled out rather than more red tape. Citibank estimates South Africa’s metals and minerals in the ground to be worth $2.5-trillion, which puts this country ahead of Russia and... 

ROLL OUT THE SMART TAPE:

IN THE TRENCHES

By: Darlene Creamer     31st May 2019 The rhetoric associated with the unfolding trade war between the US and China has definitely ratcheted up a level in recent weeks. The hardening of positions is also starting to cause shockwaves, with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development warning last week that an... 

IN THE TRENCHES

SELLING SOUTH AFRICAN MINES:

By: Martin Creamer     24th May 2019 Gold-mining company AngloGold Ashanti is embarking on a process of disposing of its last two South African mining assets – Mponeng underground mine and surface operations, which include Mine Waste Solutions. The lion-logoed company employs 6 000 people in South Africa, 5 500 at the assets. Last... 

SELLING SOUTH AFRICAN MINES:

SUPER EFFORT

By: Darlene Creamer     24th May 2019 Eyebrows were definitely raised when the 2019 Presidential inauguration ceremony was moved from the majestic Union Buildings to the grittier Loftus Versfeld stadium, just down the road. Hopefully the venue choice becomes symbolic of a Presidency, whereby Cyril Ramaphosa simply picks up the... 

SUPER EFFORT

THE CV OF AN EV:

By: Martin Creamer     17th May 2019 The electric vehicle (EV) was last month given a real run down by the Ifo Institute for Economic Research, one of Germany’s largest economic think-tanks, which stated that an EV produces more carbon emissions than a diesel car. Sparks flew during a subsequent polarised EV and battery debate, on... 

THE CV OF AN EV:

ROLLING UP SLEEVES

By: Darlene Creamer     17th May 2019 Despite the initial optimism associated with the political changes that took place in early 2018, the business community has been reticent to take decisive investment decisions in South Africa until after the elections. With those now finally behind us – along with a public-holiday cycle that... 

ROLLING UP SLEEVES

RENEWABLES TAKING HOLD OF COAL’S CROWN:

By: Martin Creamer     10th May 2019 So much of the world’s growth over the past two hundred years has been due to the ever-increasing use of fossil fuels led by coal, notes Alan M Clegg in last week’s opinion paper. But in the same week, commodities analyst BMO Global let it be known that it is modelling a slow decline in coal... 

RENEWABLES TAKING HOLD OF COAL’S CROWN:

DATA DISPUTE

By: Darlene Creamer     10th May 2019 For several years many South Africans have expressed – often under the social media banner #DataMustFall – unhappiness with prices being charged for data by the country’s mobile operators. Now the Competition Commission has added its considerable heft to the campaign, after its market inquiry... 

DATA DISPUTE

MONOPOLISTIC ABUSE:

By: Martin Creamer     3rd May 2019 State utility Eskom has an unfair monopoly and it is abusing it. The floundering State-owned is not only shrinking the economy by failing to provide energy security, but it is also abusing its monopoly by standing in the way of mining companies wanting to generate and distribute their own... 

MONOPOLISTIC ABUSE:

CLIFF EDGE

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd May 2019 News that Eskom was forced to lean on the National Treasury in April to avert an imminent liquidity crisis, arising from a delay in a loan disbursement from the China Development Bank, had served to underline the precarious state of the group’s finances. The debt-laden State-owned utility is... 

CLIFF EDGE

JOB DESTRUCTIVE TAX:

By: Martin Creamer     26th April 2019 Minerals Council South Africa, which fully embraces the industry’s obligation to lower greenhouse gas emissions, has called on the government to delay the implementation of the new carbon tax. It would like to see a delay of at least five years to allow sufficient time for government to address... 

JOB DESTRUCTIVE TAX:

CULTIVATING CONFIDENCE

By: Darlene Creamer     26th April 2019 The South African economy has been on a downward spiral for a number of years, undermining many of the dividends that initially flowed from the country’s transition to democracy. This poor performance has many reasons, but there is no question that corruption and poor governance are major... 

CULTIVATING CONFIDENCE

EARLY SIGNS OF COMEBACK:

By: Martin Creamer     19th April 2019 Platinum-backed exchange traded fund (ETF) holdings increased for nine consecutive days earlier this month to reach 2.96-million ounces, the highest level on record. The report by BMO Global Commodities Research also noted that ETF inflows had been strong in the year to date, as investors have... 

EARLY SIGNS OF COMEBACK:

ENERGY RELEASE

By: Darlene Creamer     19th April 2019 The return to a protracted period of load-shedding in March provided an unhappy reminder of South Africa’s energy deficit. It also served to confirm that new generation is needed, and needed immediately, to restore system stability. The quickest way to add new capacity would be through allowing... 

ENERGY RELEASE

TERRIBLE TARIFFS:

By: Martin Creamer     12th April 2019 The electricity tariff increases approved by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa on March 7, have put 90 000 gold and platinum jobs at risk. On April 1, State power utility Eskom was allowed to increase its tariffs by an effective 13.8%. Although the ‘front-loaded’ nature of the tariff... 

TERRIBLE TARIFFS:

DOUBLE SHOCK

By: Darlene Creamer     12th April 2019 All South Africans have been feeling the fuel-price pinch ever since the big surge in pump prices took place on Wednesday last week. By contrast, the 13.8% electricity tariff hike introduced on April 1 has hit only direct Eskom customers. The rest of us will feel its shocking brunt from July,... 

DOUBLE SHOCK

PLATINUM'S DAY WILL RETURN:

By: Martin Creamer     5th April 2019 While platinum is being taken down a peg or two by the fall in demand for diesel-driven cars, its once poorer cousins have been stealing the limelight and keeping the good name of the platinum group metals (PGMs) family aloft. However, whenever the great ascendancy of palladium is discussed,... 

PLATINUM'S DAY WILL RETURN:

WORRYING DEVELOPMENTS

By: Darlene Creamer     5th April 2019 All South Africans were understandably frustrated and angry when Eskom resumed load-shedding in mid-March. Rotational power cuts have a devastating impact on the psychology of the nation and on investor confidence. Another as disturbing trend – that of construction-site violence – is going almost... 

WORRYING DEVELOPMENTS

CLIMBING UP THE PERCEPTION LADDER:

By: Martin Creamer     29th March 2019 South Africa is slowly climbing back up the Fraser Institute ladder after falling into the nether regions under errant behaviour within the Minerals Ministry. The Fraser Institute, a research body that has been giving South African mining a hiding for years now, is recognising South Africa’s... 

CLIMBING UP THE PERCEPTION LADDER:

ROAD TO RUIN

By: Darlene Creamer     29th March 2019 Iconic South African construction company Group Five filed for business rescue earlier this month and also applied for its shares to be suspended from trade on the JSE, after 45 years of trading. In a statement to shareholders, the board cautioned that there was only a slim chance for any... 

ROAD TO RUIN

UPPER GROUP GAINS UPPER HAND:

By: Martin Creamer     22nd March 2019 UPPER GROUP GAINS UPPER HAND: Since Volkswagen understated its diesel emission levels, palladium and rhodium prices have been soaring. Accompanying that has been new respect for the upper group two (UG2) reef, which hosts palladium and rhodium in the greatest abundance. ‘Dieselgate’, as the VW... 

UPPER GROUP GAINS UPPER HAND:

DEATH SPIRAL

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd March 2019 The combination of higher electricity tariffs and the fall in solar photovoltaic costs is making it increasingly feasible for companies and high-income households to invest in self-generation to reduce reliance on Eskom or, in some extreme cases, to defect from the grid entirely. In a context of... 

DEATH SPIRAL

PGMS TO THE RESCUE:

By: Martin Creamer     15th March 2019 For long the media referred to platinum mines but from now on we will be calling them platinum group metals (PGMs) mines in recognition of the gallant manner in which the members of the PGMs family have closed ranks during the recent period of platinum price crisis. The platinum price fell... 

PGMS TO THE RESCUE:

ROAD TO HELL

By: Darlene Creamer     15th March 2019 The road to South Africa’s construction industry hell in has been paved by the proverbial good intentions. Prior to the global financial crisis there was much optimism about the role infrastructure could play in raising growth and spurring development. In the immediate aftermath, infrastructure... 

ROAD TO HELL

COAL CAP THAT FITS:

By: Martin Creamer     8th March 2019 Glencore has put a cap on its coal capacity. The large mining and marketing has given a praiseworthy commitment that it will not lift its capacity beyond 150-million tonnes of coal a year, a figure it is already close to; it has also undertaken not build another new coal mine. It is doing this in... 

COAL CAP THAT FITS:

HAZARDOUS & FAKE

By: Darlene Creamer     8th March 2019 The argument that ‘expensive’ independent power producers (IPPs) pose a financial risk to Eskom may be untrue and misleading. It has, nevertheless, gained significant traction and prominence on various social media platforms in recent months. It is also fair to say that the narrative has become... 

HAZARDOUS & FAKE

LOWEST RUNG OF ESG HELL:

By: Martin Creamer     1st March 2019 Huge diversified mining company Vale must be put in the lowest rung of environmental, social and governance (ESG) hell for putting far more emphasis on dividend declarations decided behind fancy mahogany-doored boardrooms than on the safety of dicky upstream iron-ore tailings dams. Last month’s... 

LOWEST RUNG OF ESG HELL:
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