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Petra reports strong Q1 performance, despite strike, Tanzania export ban

Despite labour disruptions at LSE-listed Petra Diamonds’ Finsch, Koffiefontein and Kimberley Ekapa Mining (KEM) Joint Venture (JV) operations in late September, CEO Johan Dippenaar says the group achieved a strong start to the 2018 financial year.

Production for the quarter was down 4% year-on-year to 1.05-million carats, mainly as a result of the planned reduction in tailings production at Finsch and the KEM JV.

Run-of-mine (RoM) production, however increased by 17% year-on-year to 842 809 ct, despite the labour disruptions, which reduced RoM production by about 70 000 ct and tailings production by about 10 000 ct.

“The group is continuing its production build-up and it is encouraging to see the increasing contribution of RoM production,” commented Dippenaar.

The Finsch mine’s RoM production increased by 2% year-on-year to 467 795 ct, owing to improved RoM grades as a result of the continued ramp-up of the Block 5 sublevel cave, as well as owing to high-grade RoM surface stockpiles.

RoM production at Cullinan increased by 35% year-on-year to 250 001 ct, owing to the production ramp-up of the new processing plant. The XRL modules of the plant, which recover coarse material greater than 12 mm in size, were put into operation in September. Two diamonds larger than 200 ct have already been recovered.

At Koffiefontein, RoM production decreased by 19% year-on-year to 12 563 ct, as a result of the loss of about 3 000 ct of production during the labour disruption.

Petra on Monday reported that construction of the ore handling infrastructure at Koffiefontein would be completed in the quarter to end December 31, with RoM production to return to planned levels from the second half of the 2018 financial year.

The KEM JV’s attributable production also decreased by 29% year-on-year to 170 014 ct, with RoM treatment having increased as the modifications to the Central Treatment Plantwere completed.

Meanwhile, production at the Williamson mine increased by 66% year-on-year to 85 213 ct.

However, a ban on the export of Petra’s diamonds from Tanzania, which has now been lifted, negatively impacted on the group’s revenues for the first quarter. Revenues decreased by 17% year-on-year to $78.7-million.

The Tanzanian government on September 28 agreed to allow Petra to resume the export and sale of diamonds recovered at the Williamson mine. This followed the seizure, by government officials, of a parcel of diamonds earlier in September, owing to allegations that the company had under declared the value of the diamonds to be exported.

Petra on Monday said it was yet to realise sales from Williamson for the current financial year and that it continued to engage with the Tanzanian government regarding a solution for the 71 654-ct parcel of diamonds that remains blocked for export.

A 40 000-ct parcel of diamonds recovered at the mine has been shipped to Petra’s marketing office for sale in the second quarter of the 2018 financial year.

 

Source: Mining Weekly

Rip up charter, provide tax incentives, back junior miners – Maimane

Mining Charter Three should be ripped up, proper tax incentives introduced and junior mining enterprises supported to restore investment in the mining industry, which is a stimulator of the South African economy as a whole, Opposition Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said on Wednesday.

Delivering a keynote address on the first day of the fifth Joburg Indaba conference, Maimane said it is an indictment against South Africa and the mining industry that the country’s last significant diamond discovery was at Venetia 40 years ago.

He noted that Canada and Australia had far more listed mining companies than South Africa and the vast majority of these were relatively small mining companies.

He said Johannesburg should be the big mining capital and not Perth, but it was not, because South Africa had shut the door on new mining development through discouraging policy.

New mining developments were virtually non-existent despite thousands of mining rights having been issued to people with no interest or expertise.

“This is how we kill an industry,” he said, adding that in countries other than South Africa investors are able to gain mining right information online.

Ninety per cent of mining students are black and they should be the mining entrants of the future.

In the early eighties, mining contributed 21% to South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) but currently both mining and manufacturing have dropped out of the top three, with mining contributing only 5% of GDP.

 

Source: mining weekly

NUM, Solidarity sign three-year wage agreement with Assmang

Trade unions the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Solidarity have secured a three-year wage agreement with iron-oreand manganese miner Assmang at its operations in the Northern Cape.

Assmang, a joint venture between Assore and African Rainbow Minerals, operates the Khumani iron-ore mine, the Beeshoek iron-ore mine and the Black Rock manganese mines.
The agreement will see lowest-earning mineworkers across the operations receive an 8% increase in the first and second year and 7% in the third year.

The lowest paid employee currently earns R15 284.88 on a total package, which will increase to R16 507.67 on the 8% increase in the first year, the NUM said in a statement on Tuesday.

The agreement also outlined the payment of a one-off R10 000 tax-free cash allowance for the members, an increase in family responsibility leave to five days and maternity and medical-related travel assistance provisions.

Assmang will also pay an underground allowance of R600 a month for the first year, R650 for the second year and R700 for the third year.

 

Source: Mining Weekly

2 500 jobs at risk at lossmaking Impala Rustenburg

South Africa’s second-largest platinum mining company has initiated a process that may lead to 2 500 staff reductions at its lossmaking Impala Rustenburg operation, where financial sustainability has deteriorated significantly in recent years.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed Impala Platinum(Implats) said on Monday that it had issued a notice to relevant employee representative groups, government authorities and other stakeholders of its initiation of a Section 189 consultation process in terms of the Labour Relations Act, aimed specifically at ensuring the sustainability of the Impala operations, which currently employ some 31 000 people.

The company, headed by CEO Nico Muller, is experiencing severe financial pressures largely as a result of persistently low metal prices in rands and continued production cost increases.

At the same time, Impala Rustenburg is encountering declining labour productivity rates, with production falling from an historical base of some 1 000 000 oz of platinum a year to the 680 000 oz to 720 000 oz forecast for the current financial year ending June 30, 2018.

“Unfortunately, we’re now left with no further option in the prevailing operating environment but to consider further restructuring processes that may lead to a reduction in the number of employees,” Muller said in a release to Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online.

While 2 500 jobs could be affected in the near term, further optimisation processes may also be required in future to ensure the continued sustainability of the operation.

“It must be emphasised that no final decision has been taken as regards the proposed restructuring, and no final decision will be taken prior to full and proper consultation with affected employees, and their representatives, in compliance with the Labour Relations Act,” added Muller, who told Mining Weekly Online that important steps to effect greater strength of leadership within the Impala Rustenburg operation had already been taken.

Implats reported last week that it was in the first phase of the review of an intended restructuring of Rustenburg after its headline earnings per share plunged to a 137c a share loss in the 12 months to June 30.

Ongoing cost saving and optimisation initiatives had been implemented in an attempt to restore profitability and secure continued employment as far as possible.

A priority target of returning Impala to a cash neutral position by 2019 has now been set assuming the current low platinum price environment remains as is.

This incorporates an assessment of each shaft and production area and will result in a mining complex that is likely to be somewhat different to the large and intricate current operation and may lead to the disposal or suspensions or harvesting of marginal and lossmaking shafts.

Impala’s leadership has been strengthened and realigned to ensure that a fit for purpose team is in place to drive performance, to increase production volumes, and improve efficiencies and productivity.

On the cards is the rebuilding of the entire operating methodology and culture at Rustenburg, where delegation of authority and accountability to lower levels is anticipated.

Currently decision-making is seen as being excessively centralised, with the changes already undertaken giving rise to early signs of improvement.

 

Source: Mining Weekly

Numsa union demands 15% wage hike in coal sector

JOHANNESBURG – The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has demanded Glencore raise coal mining wages by 15%, Numsa said on Tuesday, almost triple the inflation rate of 4.6%.

Numsa also said it was pushing for an increase of 20% in all allowances. The union is scheduled to meet with the Chamber of Mines on Tuesday to discuss wages.

 

Source: Mining Weekly

Acacia enters into gold protection measures

LSE-listed Acacia Mining has bought put options covering 210 000 oz of gold at a strike price of $1 300/oz as it continues implementing ongoing cash outflow mitigation measures.

The group on Wednesday announced that the $3.2-million option provided a minimum price for the majority of the group’s expected doré production for the next six months above the budgeted gold price of $1 200/oz, along with full upside exposure should the gold price continue to trade above $1 300/oz.

The options will expire in equal instalments of 35 000 oz a month over the period.

This followed the reduction of operational activity at its Bulyanhulu mine, in Tanzania, earlier this week, owing to the pressures of unsustainable cash outflows at the mine owing to the ongoing concentrate ban, which was imposed on March 3.

At the time, Acacia had highlighted the negative impact of Tanzania’s gold and copper concentrate export ban, resulting in a concentrate inventory build-up of about $265-million and a negative cash flow of around $15-million a month.

Over the next three months, Acacia will focus on moving the mine to a reduced operational state, undertaking consultations with its stakeholders and ceasing underground activity, with the processing of underground ore to be halted within the next four weeks.

Despite several mitigating interventions, the loss of revenue, together with an outflow of $65-million in indirect taxes and costs from other changes to the operating environment, has led to a significant cash outflow of about $210-million in the 2017 year-to-date.

 

Source: Mining Weekly

Zambian copper production to grow by 7% this year, despite power challenges

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The Zambian government’s support for the mining industry and strong copper prices are expected to drive growth in the country’s copper production for this year, despite ongoing power shortages.

BMI Research on Monday pointed out that, according to data published by the Zambian central bank, Zambia’s copper production reached 362 000 t by June 30, down slightly from the 367 000 t produced in the first half of 2016.

“No details have been given by the Zambian authorities on this decline, but it is likely that Zambia’s ongoing power supply problems have been the key constraint on copper mining activities,” BMI said.

“We are positive on Zambian copper and maintain our forecast of 7% growth this year as Zambian President Edgar Lungu remains supportive of the sector, and rising copperprices incentivise domestic miners to ramp up production during the second half of the year.”

Ongoing power shortages resulting from the country’s dependence on hydropower and rising water tariffs are the key risks facing the Zambian mining sector moving forward.

In August, two of the country’s biggest copper producers, Glencore and First Quantum Minerals, were forced to reduce power at key operations, owing to tariff disputes with electricity provider Copperbelt Energy Corporation.

However, improving rainfall and rising dam levels in the country will ease some of power shortages experienced in recent quarters.

Another key driver of strong Zambian copper production this year will be the positive trajectory of prices in 2017 relative to last year.

Since touching lows of $4 500/t in June last year, copper prices have risen over 57% to $6 810/t in August owing to strong demand from China.

“While it is possible that prices may unwind from current levels towards the end of the year, we think the gradual uptrend over the last 12 months will bode well for mining activity in Zambia.

 

Source: Mining Weekly