Another increase looming! Two of the major mills within South Africa have notified that there is a potential increase in the range or R1500.00/Ton for the month of June.
The country waits in anticipation for notice from the biggest mill within the country, ArcelorMittal, if there will be another increase on the back of the previous staggering R2500.00/Ton
To add to the industry’s wounds, the Rubber and PVC sector experienced a 17% immediate effect increase, the first of its kind. The increase has caused a serious impact on current projects and contracts.
South Africa mining output soars, The March reading was the first positive one since February last year, after the February 2021 number was revised into negative territory.
The 21.3% leap was partly attributable to base effects. In March last year, mining output declined 14.9% year on year as mines cut production and sent workers home ahead of the start of the hard lockdown later that month.
This was the biggest bounce since March 2015, when a rise of 21.8% was recorded, the biggest record was noted in October 2013 at 23.2%.
The latest number is clearly a positive sign for the sector and the overall economy.
The April number will almost certainly be a new record, in part because of base effects after mining output declined 51.7% in that month last year. Stay tuned for that number, it’s bound to be a whopper.
Border updates, on the 2nd of May the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority announced that there will be upgrades taking place at the Beitbridge border post which is going to cause significant delays for up to six weeks.
The upside for cargo going north is that the long awaited Kazangula bridge has finally been opened, as of 10 May 2021 the bridge is now fully operational.
Kazungula was meant to be completed by 2018, but the government in Lusaka’s consistent failure to meet financial commitments, as agreed with Daewoo, regularly delayed work on the bridge.
Speaking at Monday’s opening of the Kazungula multimodal bridge across Zambia’s Zambezi River border with Botswana, Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu recommitted his country to building another bridge that will possibly change the face of bulk-haul logistics in the sub-Saharan region.
Temporarily called the Kasomena-Mwenda toll road bridge and border post, the project entails an upgrade of the N5 from the copper-mining nerve centre of Lubumbashi north-east to the Luapula River between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia.
The crossing will most likely be immediately south of Kasenga from where it will proceed in an easterly direction before heading north-west to Zambia’s Nakonde border post with Tanzania.
Copper price hits new high, shortages of copper and declining inventories could drive prices to levels beyond current record highs unless scrap supplies increase.
Scrap accounts for about a third of the roughly 30 million tonnes of annual global copper supplies, as copper prices rise, the flow of scrap accelerates as the market attempts to cover the gap between demand and supply.
Copper for delivery in July was up 0.9% earlier this week, with futures trading at $4.7620 per pound ($10,476 a tonne) on the Comex market.
Bank of America expects a deficit of 186,000 tonnes this year and a shortfall of 369,000 tonnes in 2022, followed by surpluses in the two years after.
China’s massive purchases of refined copper have been the primary driver of the post-pandemic price rebound, but the Chinese push may be fading.
In 2020, China imported 4.4 million tonnes, up 1.2 million tonnes from 2019.
Barrick on track to achieve 2021 production targets, the company reported preliminary Q1 sales of 1.09 million ounces of gold and 113 million pounds of copper, as well as preliminary Q1 production of 1.10 million ounces of gold and 93 million pounds of copper, in line with their plan.
The average market price for gold in Q1 was $1,794 per ounce, while the average market price for copper in Q1 was $3.86 per pound.
Preliminary Q1 2021 copper production was 22% lower than Q4 2020 as expected. Copper sales were 5% higher than the previous quarter as Lumwana sold a portion of its stockpiled concentrate.
Barrick expects copper production in the second half of 2021 to be stronger than the first half, mainly driven by higher grades from Lumwana.
Caledonia closes off first quarter, Caledonia Mining recorded gross revenues of $25.7-million for the quarter, with higher revenues year-on-year thanks to a higher gold price, offset by lower sales as a result of lower production.
Caledonia reported net cash from operating activities of $2-million for the quarter. Cash from operations was adversely affected by increased working capital, in particular higher amounts due for gold sales.
The responsibility for making payments for gold deliveries from the Blanket gold mine, in Zimbabwe, has moved from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to its gold refining subsidiary Fidelity Printers and Refiners.
The company believes this move will streamline and improve receiving payments for the gold it produces and says this new system is operating well.
Caledonia paid dividends in the quarter of $0.11 a piece which is a 46.7% increase year-on-year and the quarterly dividend increased by 9% to $0.12 a piece in April.
Zambia denies shutting KCM, reports emerged that KCM’s mining operations had been stopped at Konkola Deep underground pit and other KCM plants because of a lack of funds to develop new mining areas.
It is noted that at no point has operations been halted or even stopped and that production has been continuous throughout.
Zambia handed control of KCM to a provisional liquidator in May 2019, triggering an ongoing legal dispute with Vedanta.
Konkola Copper Mines is currently operating and there are no plans to put it on care and maintenance.
Zambia’s economy is heavily reliant on mining, making the sector highly politicised especially as the country heads into a general election in three months’ time.
With copper prices at a ten-year high Africa’s second-largest copper producer which defaulted on part of its sovereign debt in November stands to gain from ramping up production at key mines.
DRC President visits KCC in recognition of investment, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi visited Glencore’s Kamoto Copper Company (KCC) in Kolwezi, yesterday, in recognition of the miner’s near $8-billion investment in the country.
KCC is a joint venture between Glencore and DRC commodity trading and mining company Gécamines, which conforms to the Responsible Minerals Assurance Process standard for cobalt as defined by the Responsible Minerals Initiative.
KCC represents a key part of Glencore’s investment in the DRC, with its modern infrastructure and a significant copper cobalt orebody, which the company states makes the operation a key component to achieving the global energy and mobility transitions.
Following its successful ramp-up in 2020, KCC is on track to achieve nameplate capacity of 300 000 t/y of copper and 30 000 t/y of cobalt production.
Portugal to send more troops to Moz, Portugal will send 60 more soldiers to Mozambique as part of a new cooperation agreement aimed at helping the southern African country to fight insurgency.
Sixty members of the Portuguese special forces are already training soldiers in Mozambique, following the deadly attack in March in the village of Palma, Cabo Delgado, in the northern part of the country.
The agreement, which is in place until 2026, allows Portugal to train Mozambican soldiers on fighting insurgency, sharing intelligence and helping the country using drones to track insurgents’ movement.
The US has also helped Mozambique with training of defence personnel to fight terrorism with the European Union preparing to send soldiers to Mozambique to help fighting insurgency.
Upcoming Public Holidays:
17th May 2021 – National Day of the Revolution and the FARDC (DRC)
25th May 2021 – Africa Day (Zambia and Zimbabwe)
“Some people feel the rain, Other just get wet”
Border updates, chaos had once again returned to the Beitbridge border post over the festive period, from what seemed to be been a victory leading up to the December month turned south very fast as queues of up to 35kms were experienced at a stage, the lifting of COVID testing for drivers going north and the failure of system implementations all added to this, on the flipside, drivers coming south into South Africa also faced problems when the South African Department of Health demanded that all inbound travellers were to be tested for COVID which lead to around 2000 trucks being detained at Beitbridge, this also created fears of health risks to travellers and residents within the Beitbridge area.
This past week there has been concern for possible super spreader events as thousands of people have been stuck on the Zim side waiting to enter South Africa, most not wearing masks and not adhering to social distancing measures, this issue arose when authorities in Harare announced that only Zimbabweans with South African permits would be allowed to cross the Limpopo heading south.
Delays continue further to the east at the Ressano Garcia border between Mozambique and South Africa which has resulted in trucks and other vehicles queueing three lanes abreast for at least 10 kilometres. The delays are starting to become so bad that Mozambique yesterday requested clearing agents and customs authorities at Lebombo Border Post not to let anyone through.
It seems that South African truck drivers have been denied access into Angola, however the Angolan government is denying this.
This emerged after a high-ranking official from Namibia’s hinterland logistics sector confirmed that at least three senior officials from the Trans-Cunene Corridor had told him that trucks entering Angola must be driven by Namibian drivers. According to an Angolan official, this is untrue and the only request that they have is that drivers must present the RT-PCR test of the country of origin, however the TCC emphasised that if this coronavirus testing measure was negative, all truck drivers were allowed to proceed to their destinations as per international transit protocol.
Level 4, Zimbabwe entered level 4 lockdown on Tuesday for a period of 30 days which restricts the country’s movement to almost a standstill, inter city travel is prohibited unless you are an essential worker and only the mining, agriculture and manufacturing sectors are currently allowed to operate. It is also noted that only Zimbabwean citizens are allowed to enter the country.
The South African government is also currently in council where rumours are rising that South Africa itself will be entering a harder lockdown, this comes after the country entered level 3 on the 30th of December last year which was expected to only last two weeks, however there has been an emergency meeting called and the citizens now await the verdict, roadblocks have been setup on provincial borders this week adding to the rumours that a harder lockdown will be put in place.
Caledonia to enter further exploration, Caledonia can gain exclusive rights to explore and subsequently, if exploration is successful and at its sole discretion, acquire the mining claims over an area known as Connemara North, a property which, like Glen Hume, is situated in the Gweru mining district in the Zimbabwe Midlands that has historically produced significant quantities of gold.
Connemara North is approximately 30 km from Glen Hume with good road access between them offering the potential of operating in synergy should Caledonia decide to develop both areas.
It has not been commercially mined since 2001 before being placed on care and maintenance. Connemara mine produced approximately 20 000 ounces of gold per annum from an open pit heap leach operation. Originally in 2001 First Quantum indicated that they had plans to expand the existing open pit operations at Connemara mine but this never materialised.
The option gives Caledonia the right to explore the area for a period of up to 18 months.
Kuvimba seeks $1 billion for acquisitions, Kuvimba Mining House Ltd., in which the Zimbabwean government is the majority stake holder at 65%, will invest an incredible amount of the cash raised on the Darwendale platinum project, which belongs to its Great Dyke Investments unit. Kuvimba is held by government pension funds and Zimbabwe’s sovereign wealth fund.
It is believed that around $100 million will be set aside for acquisitions and capital expenditure over the next 12 months.
The group, whose portfolio includes gold, nickel and platinum, will raise part of the money internally through its operations, it will also issue debt. Kuvimba has three working gold mines producing about 300 kg of the metal each month and owns a nickel mine with monthly output of 550 tonnes.
The company is finalizing negotiations to acquire Metallon Gold Zimbabwe Ltd.’s Mazwoe mine. It is looking at other assets such as lithium, nickel and copper and further exploration into Africa.
Zambian court orders liquidator to stay, A Zambian court has ruled the state-appointed liquidator of Vedanta’s Konkola Copper Mines will not be discharged despite a November ruling ordering a halt to proceedings to allow Vedanta and minority KCM shareholder ZCCM-IH to pursue arbitration.
The government accused Vedanta of failing to honour licence conditions, including promised investment. The liquidator has since said he intends to split the company, with possible asset sales to follow.
In a statement after the ruling, KCM provisional liquidator Milingo Lungu said his powers were valid. He said he would split KCM into two companies effective Jan. 31, and that asset disposal was likely KCM’s only remaining option.
Given the impasse between stake holders and government it is unclear whether any keen consumers might be discovered.
International Legal opinion maintains that there would be no way a provisional liquidator could commence with disposing of KCM assets because anybody buying them would effectively be acquiring tainted property and would therefore be party to an unlawful act.
Copper growth in Africa expected to grow! Demand in China is remaining especially strong as it moves out of the crises towards full normalization of all economic activities. Prices have rallied and surged in part attributed to the various disruptions from top producer Chile.
Long term outlook remains positive and demand set to increase with investments in electric vehicles and renewal energy as well as infrastructure projects particularly being driven in China. Prices are also being pushed up by grade decline, rising input costs, water constraints and high-quality development opportunities becoming scarce. These factors will continue to push prices up as well as motivate miners to improve their margins by introducing better efficiencies.
New SA trade agreements! Friday marked the start of trade for South African firms under two new trade agreements, the Trade and Industry and Competition Department said. These agreements are with countries ready to trade under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and with the United Kingdom following Brexit.
South Africa had put in place the legal and administrative processes for the start of trade under the AfCFTA on January 1, 2021 following a decision to start trading under the AfCFTA by the 13th extraordinary session of the assembly on the AfCFTA on December 5, 2020.
The AfCFTA agreement which was signed by 54 of the 55 African Union member states consisting of 34 countries had already given their approval to the AU Commission and became state parties, the parties include Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
In addition, trade for local firms with the UK commenced on Friday under the new economic partnership agreement between six southern African countries which include South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique replacing the European Union partnership terms for the UK market that was in place until December 31, 2020.
The UK agreement effectively retained the terms of trade in the existing EU agreement and would govern the bilateral trading relationship between each of the Southern African countries
SADC must tackle Mozambique’s terrorism!! Up to now, Mozambique has only requested SADC to provide military supplies, as Maputo resists any kind of external support that may lead to multilateral foreign intervention.
This is not a crisis that one country can solve alone; the Institute of Security Studies noted.
President Nyusi announced his intention to eradicate the violent extremists but his government has been unable to do so for the past three years and each passing day strengthens the extremist resilience and complicates the liberation of Cabo Delgado and the millions of Mozambicans at risk.
Although Mozambique had enlisted Russian and South African mercenaries to help fight the insurgency, no single SADC state has the military strength or financial capacity to intervene in Mozambique said the ISS.
United Nations has pledged to raise $254 million to assist terrorism-affected people in Mozambique. The plan will be deployed in 2021 and is expected to benefit 1.1 million people in the Cabo Delgado province and surrounding areas.
According to humanitarian bodies, the resources will be used to establish new camps for refugees and internally displaced persons.
In the meantime, Total SE has asked some staff to vacate its $20bn Mozambique liquefied natural gas (LNG) project with fighting reported to be less than 5km away from the plant.
The situation is grave and set to worsen with the terrorists taking control of transport links, terrorizing villagers and depopulating towns. Urgent intervention is needed.
“The Earth is a beehive, we all enter by the same door”
Steel price increase! With the current steel woes South Africa is facing, there is a steel increase on the cards for January 2021, so far two major mills have announced an increase across the board of around 3-6% on all products whilst the industry anxiously awaits an announcement from ArcelorMittal.
So far the steel shortage situation remains the same as we eagerly await Mittal’s furnaces to fire back up early next year.
There are also concerns coming from the Manufacturing and Engineering sector that the possible 10% electricity hike for next year could be detrimental to the revival of the sector.
Border updates, there has been a complete U-turn at Beitbridge, following for the previous positive update, Beitbridge is once again bottlenecked.
The southbound queue of loaded and backhaul trucks heading out of Zimbabwe to South Africa is again being snagged by bottlenecking at the Beitbridge Border Post. Zimra has said that they are doing everything in their power to relieve the congestion. So far the northbound queue is clear.
South Africa’s Skilpadshek Border Post which is on the Trans-Kalahari Corridor (TKC) through Botswana continued to be affected by slow coronavirus testing procedures this morning. According to the Transit Assistance Bureau, the building backlog at the border stems from Botswana’s inability to cope with the testing of truck drivers for Covid-19.
A decision taken last month to not test drivers coming from South Africa who are in possession of a polymerise chain reaction (PCR) negative test result which is not older than 72 hours has not had the impact they thought it would have on easing congestion.
The notion that Botswana seems incapable of coping with capacity requirements for testing drivers not in possession of PCR results only serves to support criticism that the country’s inflexible Covid-19 testing regimes are impeding its strategic logistics position in the sub-Saharan region.
In the meantime, transporters using the TKC to get to Namibia are increasingly avoiding the corridor, preferring instead to bypass Botswana altogether which in turn has bottlenecked the Nakop Border post in Namibia.
Container rates soar, exports from South-East Asia have recovered fast from the COVID-19 pandemic however the shipping costs have climbed drastically.
This is due to a high demand and no supply as trade routes have been interrupted by the pandemic. Shipping lines are also taking advantage of this by using the peak season surcharge as a reason.
The cost of putting one container on a ship can cost in the region of $5,000.00 up from an average of $1,300.00 earlier this year.
It is expected that the current rates will continue into early to mid-next year.
Rio Completes Copper Project, Rio Tinto has completed the initial work on the Midnight Sun Mining’s Solwezi Licenses in Zambia.
After incurring project expenditures in excess of $3 million during the initial work phase, Rio will now proceed to the next stage of the agreement.Top of Form
This would allow the company to earn a 51% interest in the Solwezi licenses by spending a further $16 million on the project within four years, as well as by making cash payments to Midnight Sun.
The project is situated on the Zambia-Congo copper belt and is immediately adjacent to Africa’s largest copper mining complex, First Quantum’s Kansanshi mine.
Zambia in negotiations with IMF, Zambia has just begun negotiations for financial support from the International Monetary Fund. The IMF announced this in an official statement
This announcement comes at a time when the Zambian economy has been declining due to several years of crisis. Drought, difficulties in the mining sector, and rising debt had pushed the country to adopt austerity measures in recent years to cope with the situation. However, the covid-19 pandemic that has plagued global economic activity has contributed to the accelerated decline of the Southern African country’s economy.
Great Dyke Sells Stake, Great Dyke Investments who is planning to build Zimbabwe’s biggest platinum mine, has sold a 4.4% stake to Fossil Mines as Covid-19-disrupted fundraising for the venture.
Fossil, which is Zimbabwean owned, will invest $30m in the Darwendale project, through a combination of cash and services, including engineering, procurement and construction. That leaves Vi Holding and Zimbabwe’s Landela Mining Venture each with a 47.8% stake. The sale values Great Dyke Investments at $680m.
The covid-19 pandemic has delayed fundraising for the project, which was originally due to be completed in 2020. Financing of $665m is now expected to be finalised in the first quarter of 2021.
The Darwendale project has the potential to become one of the world’s biggest platinum mines and its development is central to the Zimbabwean government’s plans to reboot a collapsing economy.
Zimbabwe has the world’s third-largest platinum group metal reserves after SA and Russia.
Millions lost to illicit mining, Zimbabwe continues to lose millions of revenue in illicit gold mining, In Mazowe, 40 km outside the capital Harare, artisanal miners have broadened their search for gold ore as they continue digging the soil underground in some cases to over 50 metres deep. Some artisanal miners are receiving up to $40 per gram of gold.
According to government statistics, the bulk of the gold is extracted by artisanal and small-scale miners who are responsible for 63% of the recorded production. In most cases, the artisanal miners operate illegally and do not sell the mineral to the state-owned buyer.
Trucker violence on the down, following from the last report, it seems police and other law agencies have managed to clamp down on the truck attacks. Currently there has been no news of any attacks over the past week. Hopefully this will remain.
Kamoa-Kakula stockpile building up, Ivanhoe Mines has announced that underground development at the Kamoa-Kakula copper project, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, produced a combined 250 000 t of ore, grading 4.85% copper, in November.
The tonnage from the Kakula and Kansoko mines is 29% higher than the volumes achieved in the previous month whilst the grade of copper also increased month-on-month from 4.01% to 4.85%.
The project’s surface stockpiles now contain about 1.25-million tonnes of high-grade and medium-grade ore, which has an estimated grade of 3.75% copper and is on track to have around three million tonnes of high and medium grade ore stockpiled prior to the planned start of production in July 2021.
The Kamoa-Kakula’s first phase involves mining and milling 3.8 million tonnes of ore a year, whilst a concentrator that is expected to handle the same amount of volume is currently being built.
US Support counter-terrorism, The United States is not considering sending troops to Mozambique to combat the terrorist threat in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, but are willing to aid civilian counter-terrorism capabilities.
The United States wants to be Mozambique’s security partner of choice in strengthening border security and in strengthening its capacity to counter terrorist activity.
Terrorists in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado are apparently dying daily as the Mozambican police have managed to cut out their supply system. It is also noted that the defence force managed to block out an insurgent attack on Maputo as well as neighbouring cities.
There is also concern that the terrorists are using a port or aerodrome in Cabo Delgado to move drugs and guns into the country. However the Cabo Delgado coast and offshore islands are under the control of the Mozambican authorities
Earlier this week Islamist militants attacked and occupied a northern Mozambican village in their closest raid yet to a giant gas project. The assault came late Monday night on the village of Mute, some 20 kilometres from the Afungi peninsula which is the centre of a multi-billion-dollar scheme to build a liquefied natural gas plant in Cabo Delgado province.
The attackers targeted government soldiers in the village and torched homes.
The attack has raised concerns about security at the Afungi peninsula, where the French energy major Total and the United States’ Exxon Mobil are among the investors.
Air force reinforcements from Dyck Advisory Group have been deployed from Pemba to bolster up government troops seeking to retake Mute.
“However long the night may last, there will be a morning”
Level 1 restrictions eased, on Wednesday night 11th November 2020, South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa announced the easing of South Africa’s level 1 lockdown, opening the borders up to international travellers as well as allowing alcohol to be sold within the pre-covid trading hours, this is yet another step in slowly opening up the economy and to allow more growth, although opposition parties and leaders have bemoaned the extension of the state of the disaster it seems the people of South Africa as a whole are feeling more positive.
Border updates, the Beitbridge saga continued since the last report, however as of yesterday it is noted that congestion has eased significantly, with compliments pouring in from the transport industry about the SA Revenue Service’s decision to discontinue issuing CN2 gate passes at Beitbridge, an intervention that now appears to have completely decongested northbound transits. There is however a slight delay on the Zimbabwean side as authorities were overwhelmed with trucks crossing from the SA side but they are dealing with each truck in good time.
This is a breath of fresh air since the 21st of October when the congestion began, reports of crime and violence emerged as well as a driver losing their life.
We hope the new system implemented can keep traffic at a free flow for some time to come.
A joint effort between DRC and Zambian officials have effectively decongested the Copperbelt crossing of Kasumbalesa, that in the past has been known as a notoriously problematic border.
Prior to the Covid-19 lockdown, Kasumbalesa’s fragile workability could result in cargo disruption at any given time. The impact was immediately felt when COVID-19 hit, leading to a northbound cargo queue stretching some 90 kilometres south-east through Chingola towards Kitwe.
Knowing that vast action was needed to clear the border and boost imports and exports into the region which is known for its copper mines, DRC and Zambian authorities got together to combat a troublesome border which resulted in the decongestion in under a week. This just proves once again that when people come together nothing is impossible.
Zimbabwe under pressure to end gold sales, Gold mining investors are pressuring Zimbabwe to change a law forcing producers to sell their output to the central bank, who then part pays them in local currency that is useless outside the country.
Whilst mining investment is key to rebooting Zimbabwe’s collapsing economy, the nation suffers from a shortage of dollars. As the rally in bullion generates more interest in the industry, the government is weighing its options on whether to grant investors gold-trading licenses.
Zimbabwe currently forces gold miners to sell their bullion to Fidelity Printers and Refiners Ltd. It pays them 70% in dollars and the remainder in local currency.
Bravura enters the frame; Nigerian owned Bravura Holdings has $1 billion available for the development of a platinum mine in Zimbabwe.
The 3,000-hectare concession where it plans to dig the mine is in Selous, 80 Kms south of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare which is close to existing platinum mines.
Bravura is one of a number of companies that have secured platinum concessions in Zimbabwe as the government seeks to kick start its stagnant economy. Still, established platinum miners haven’t announced plans to expand their operations.
While Zimbabwe has the world’s third-largest platinum group metal reserves, investors have been deterred by frequent changes to mining laws and currency policies.
Rare diamonds have been discovered in Matabeleland South and Masvingo provinces, the findings come after Alrosa, a Russian mining firm had done extensive exploration at the Malipati Diamond Project and say these findings have the potential to change the face of Zimbabwe’s gem industry.
In collaboration with state-owned diamond miners ZCDC, Alrosa has come to this discovery on finding this “Type II” diamond. Type ll diamonds have no nitrogen in their composition and come with a much higher price tag to them.
Rushinga District in Mashonaland Central province there is a potential new Chinese investor looking at the exploration of iron deposits.
The investor, who already has steel smelters in China’s city of Handani are under pressure to curb pollution, has already partnered local investors with plans underway to develop mines and build smelters, this is, however, subject to an in-depth exploration to confirm commercial quantities and quality of the resource. There is evidence of the existence of iron deposits in mountain ranges of Mavhuradonha, which stretches into Mozambique.
The project has been in the pipeline for the past 18 months, but was delayed due to global pandemic, supply chains disruptions and travel restrictions.
The investor had plans to commence production in 2023.
A special tasks force within the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, has been formed to oversee the implementation of the project.
Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company is Zimbabwe’s only integrated steel firm, however operations stopped in 2008 due to lack of capital and poor management. The company had capacity to produce up to one million tonnes annually, the company was among Zimbabwe’s major foreign currency earners.
Kakula tunnels successfully connected, Kakula mine in Kolwezi, DRC which is being developed in the eastern part of the Kakula deposit has reached a major milestone as the Northern and Southern tunnels have now been successfully connected.
Kakula is the first of many underground copper mines to be developed in the 400sq km region, the average grade of copper is said to exceed 8%.
The Kakula Mine is expected to have a mine life of approximately 21 years, whilst Kakula West which is Kamoa-Kakula’s third underground mine to be developed has a projected mine life of approximately 16 years.
The underground development on the south decline was performed by the mining crew of JMMC who are the DRC subsidiary of leading Chinese mining contractor JCHX, the northern decline was performed by Kamoa Copper’s mining crews.
Further developments are planned to commence mid next year where a set of connection drives is expected to hole by June 2021 which will open up an additional high-grade and medium-grade mining block and phase 1 copper concentrate production from the Kakula Mine is scheduled to begin in July 2021.
Earlier in the month Nanjing Hanrui Cobalt Co Ltd, advised that they expect to start their cobalt production line in the DRC Later this month, moving into December.
The 5,000-tonnes-per-year production line in Kolwezi, DRC, was expected to be running earlier this year but due to the COVID-19 pandemic all operations were placed on hold.
The firm was still discussing sales contracts with foreign traders and domestic users.
Terrorising of Mozambique continues! More than 50 people were killed in a terrorist attack last Friday in northern Mozambique where insurgents attacked a village.
Up to 2,000 people have been killed and about 430,000 have been left homeless in the conflict in the mainly-Muslim province. The militants are linked to the Islamic State (IS) group, giving it a foothold in southern Africa.
The group exploits poverty-stricken areas and the unemployed and grows their numbers by recruiting the youth in their fight to establish Islamic rule in the area. Many locals complain that they have benefited little from the province’s ruby and gas industries.
Zimbabwe president Emmerson Mnangagwa has recent said that he will be sending troops over to help with the insurgents.
“If you climb up a tree, you must climb down the same tree”
Prices on the rise as materials disappear, buckle in!! Further steel price increases have been announced for November which will be the ninth consecutive increase this year exacerbated by low stocks countrywide. South Africa is facing a steel shortage and explosive prices.
This trend has now moved over to the HDPE and Plastics sector and shortages of raw materials are being experienced by all the major manufacturers. Output as a general for HDPE polymers was 3,300 Tons per month which then dropped to 2,500 tons and as of the latest notice a further 15% drop is expected in production.
Various factors have been blamed both locally and internationally and Force Majure has been announced by many different industries who find themselves unable to perform to their pre-covid-19 service and production levels.
Output as a general for HDPE polymers was 3,300 Tons per month which then dropped to 2,500 tons and as of the latest notice a further 15% drop is expected in production.
Border updates, Chaos at Beitbridge over the past week, A motorist sadly passed away last week when a bakkie travelling south towards Musina from the Beitbridge border post between South Africa and Zimbabwe collided with a truck that had reportedly crossed into the oncoming lane to overtake gridlocked traffic heading north. The fatal collision once more demonstrates that traffic officials should be held culpable for allowing cars and trucks going north to drive three abreast on a single-lane highway.
Intervention seems to be on the cards after the build-up of traffic south of South Africa’s Beitbridge border with Zimbabwe has deteriorated to such an extent that some sources say it is the worst it has ever been this century.
This comes after northbound transporters stuck at the Limpopo crossing posted video footage on social media of the Transit Assistance Bureau clearly showing how trucks, cars and buses were milling around as if no traffic officials were present to establish order. The queue already stretched to the Baobab truck stop some six kilometres south of the border.
Suggestions were made to officials that the border should be opened up to clear the congestion and alleviate pressure on officials clearly incapable of coping with mounting volumes.
Since the suggestions were made, South Africa’s Beitbridge border into Zimbabwe has virtually transformed and a recorded 18km queue has been reduced down to less than 1km. The northbound queue has also has also been reduced to a single lane of traffic.
Last week at the Lebombo Border Crossing there was also a backlog as vehicles trying to cross into Mozambique from South Africa came to a standstill, chrome trucks, general cargo and the bakkie brigade loads jockeying for position whilst customs continue to take their time.
Call went out for the border to operate 24/7 and it seems that the cries were heard, transit times at the border have been substantially reduced with around 450 trucks cleared every 24 hours.
Meanwhile there is no certainty about what the border authorities have done but it’s obviously helping, bringing much-needed relief to private sector interests who often complain of extended standing time at the border.
The real test will come towards the end of the week as volume often picks up towards the weekend.
Finally, the opening of the Kazangula Bridge may happen before the end of the year, the bridge was initially supposed to be completed back in 2018 but due to various delays there is now a promising outlook that the opening will be soon, this comes after it was reported that ZRA had announced that it would be moving its regional office from Livingstone to the southern Zambian town from which the much-hyped linkage has taken its name.
Speaking to a Zambian news site, ZRA emphasised that the $70-billion bridge into Botswana would boost trade in Zambia’s southern province significantly, with tangible benefits for revenue collection.
Transporters will also not need much persuasion to divert traffic away from other north-south route border posts such as Beitbridge, considering the shambles it has been of late.
Zimbabwe mineral production increases, The Zimbabwe mining industry has managed to stay afloat with sustainable, profitable and balance production results whilst still fighting off the challenges faced within the mining sector.
Adding onto this, the mining sector has become quite optimistic about 2021 with the ever-improving commodity prices and a favourable local fiscal the sky is the limit for Zimbabwe in 2021.
90 percent of miner’s plan on upscaling production in the coming year with the other 10 percent expecting production to remain the same. Gold output is expected to increase around 30% in the coming year, followed by platinum and coal spurred by world commodity prices that continue to move upwards.
Terrorism crossing the border! The Islamist terrorist group operating in the Cabo Delgado region of Mozambique have made their away across the border to Tanzania, where it is reported 20 people were beheaded.
The attack was carried out against the village of Kitaya, in Mtwara province, near the border with the Cabo Delgado district of Palma.
According to military sources cited by the newsheet, the terrorists entered Tanzania by sea, going up the Rovuma river that forms the border between Mozambique and Tanzania.
The raiders burnt down houses, destroyed an armoured vehicle and stole money and military equipment. The terrorist network that calls itself “Islamic State” claimed responsibility for the attack, and reported three Tanzanian soldiers had been killed in the ensuing battle that followed.
“Rain does not fall on one roof alone”
Level 1, last night, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that as of Monday 21 September South Africa would enter Level 1 of the lockdown, further unlocking the country’s economy and society whilst we await the final decision on the construction and mining sectors possibly returning to 100%; international travel has been allowed to and from countries that are not high risk areas and only a few land borders remain open at this stage although strict criteria will need to be followed.
Border updates, not much has changed at Beitbridge with operating times at 50% of the usual, curfew is still in place however there is speculation that by end of the week big changes will be implemented. Last week news broke that Beitbridge was to go ahead with the COVID-19 testing on every person entering the country as of Monday this week however, there doesn’t seem to be any system in place currently and drivers are not being tested.
Reports are emerging that the Chirundu border post has now implemented the testing of every driver that is entering the country despite no official confirmation of this. Massive delays for trucks going north into Zambia and DRC are however being experienced.
Botswana throws more fuel to the fire, call has gone out for greater regional adherence to guidelines and regulations after it emerged earlier this week that Botswana would still be doing its own testing for the coronavirus, despite the Southern African Development Community (SADC) making it compulsory for truck drivers to cross borders with “Covid-19 certificates” in hand.
Although only laboratories can issue the relevant documents declaring whether or not bearers have tested positive or negative for the virus – a curbing measure that came into effect on Monday morning – a freight representative said Botswana would not take the certificates as legit and would still do its own testing.
For the first time in weeks Kasumbalesa has been running smooth with no problems reported.
Zimbabwe cancels mining concession in national parks, Zimbabwe’s government has announced that mining on areas held by national parks is banned with immediate effect.
In a statement issued last week Tuesday evening after a cabinet meeting, an announcement by Minister of Information Monica Mutsvangwa said “Mining on areas held by National Parks is banned with immediate effect, steps are being undertaken to immediately cancel all mining titles held in National Parks.”
This comes after a public outcry and the threat of a court battle after President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government granted exploratory rights for coal to two Chinese companies in one of the country’s most iconic reserves, Hwange National Park.
The decision has been welcomed by various conservation groups and The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association.
FQM to expand, Canadian company First Quantum Minerals (FQM) has announced its plans to expand operations at the Kansanshi mine in Zambia.
The Kansanshi Mine is one of the largest copper mines in the world, with two open pits.
The mine began operations in 2005 and has undergone several expansions since then. In a technical report, the Canadian firm said that it plans to expand the sulphide ore processing facility at the Kansanshi mine by 25 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa).
This is expected to boost the mine’s annual throughput to 52Mtpa.
First Quantum expects to spend approximately $650m for the expansion in about two years, starting in the H2-2023.
“Whether You Think You Can Or Think You can’t, You’re Right”
Steel industry facing the gallows, after the recent steel price increases in South Africa the storm continues to batter the already struggling sector, as of 25 August Arcelormittal South Africa declared FORCE MAJEURE at its Newcastle furnace when a blast occurred on the 20th of August, this has resulted in a halt in production and now the steel giants are battling to meet demands, on the back of this their Vanderbijlpark mill is not producing at 100% due to COVID restrictions and there is now concern that the country could soon run out of steel whilst the smaller mills try to accommodate this problem there is an impending steel increase coming first of next month in the region of R1000/Ton.
To add insult to injury on the 13th of August Eskom announced that stage 2 load shedding would come into effect for a short period of time however since then the country has been on an almost constant load shedding schedule and as of this week stage 4 has been introduced which is wrecking further havoc across all industries within the country.
Border updates, operating times at Beitbridge on the Zimbabwean side are still at a 50% capacity and anyone entering any offices at the border are to produce a valid negative COVID-19 test whilst at Groblersbrug and other borders around Botswana, anyone entering into the country is to undergo a COVID test, testing stations have now been setup at the borders with a 24-48 hour turnaround time.
The Trans-Kalahari Corridor Secretariat (TKCS) has announced that it will hold a “Virtual Stakeholder Engagement” this coming Friday in a bid to address the “devastating consequences on the national and regional economies of the Covid-19 pandemic”.
According to the TKCS, the competitive advantage of the region has been seriously compromised, with exports and imports having been seriously affected.
The Secretariat supports its view by quoting from the World Bank’s biannual Pulse Report which states that as a result of the pandemic, economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa will decline from 2.4% in 2019 to between -2.1% and -5.1% in 2020.
Going north, last week, notice came out that anyone crossing into Zambia from the Chirundu border is to produce a valid COVID test from the country they are entering from, this was supposed to go live on the 2nd of September, however after much confusion and debate it seems to have been called off for now.
Also last week the notoriously problematic border crossing of Kasumbalesa between Zambia’s Copperbelt Province and the province of Haut-Katanga in the south-western Democratic Republic of the Congo was shut down again.
This was reported by Transit Assistance Bureau “Transist”.
A message sent to Transist said: “Demonstrations at Kasumbalesa so no movement of trucks.”
It’s not clear what has sparked the demonstrations but the area has been politically volatile for some time, with violent flare-ups experienced all the way north-east of Kasumbalesa into copper mining areas around Lubumbashi and Kolwezi.
Earlier last month Kasumbalesa was turned into a flashpoint after members of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDSP) went on the rampage following the alleged killing of a colleague.
It is not known whether the UDSP is also responsible for last weeks’ closure.
Airfreight slowly taking off, the easing of the lockdown has gradually seen an increase in the airfreight sector, initially it was seen that the air cargo sector had not returned to levels pre-dating the Covid-19 pandemic, despite the relaxation of lockdown regulations across the globe.
And yet yields dropped by a global average of no more than 2.4% from the last week of June through the first weeks of July (from Asia Pacific and Middle East South Asia by 4% and 3% respectively, World Air Cargo Data (ACD) has found.
However, in its most recent market data assessment the airfreight aggregator also found that weekly volumes were lower by mid-July than two weeks before.
The gradual route to recovery to pre-Covid market conditions continued for the global air cargo industry in August for a fourth-consecutive month, according to fresh volume and yield data from industry analysts CLIVE Data Services and TAC
Zimplats doing well, Platinum giants Zimplats have recorded a net profit of US$261.8 million for the financial year ended June 30 2020, which is an increase of 81% compared to the same period previous year.
The profitability was on the back of an increase in mineral prices, particularly rhodium, palladium, gold and nickel that saw revenues going up from US$631 million to US$868.9 million.
“The groups operations were not affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as all the mines and processing plants continued operating throughout the year with no confirmed cases within the workforce” the company said.
The miner opted not to declare dividend for the period to preserve cash and maintain liquidity in light of the economic uncertainties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following on from Zimplats’ current success, another major talking point is the revival at Rio Zim, Zimbabwe’s second largest diamond miner, after having to halt their sales in March and the diamond industry coming to a stop over the past 6 months due to COVID-19, the mine has seen a turnaround, after deciding to cut the price of diamonds last week an immediate bounce back can be seen and the demand for the precious gems has come back with a vengeance.
It seems that Zimbabwe as a whole possesses great resilience and bullish like behaviour when things get tough and hopefully this is the beginning of the revitalisation of the great country once known as the “bread-basket” of Africa.
Implats posts record earnings, revenue was 44% higher at R69.9-billion on higher dollar metal prices and a weaker rand, partially offset by lower PGM sales volumes. The higher revenue resulted in the group generating a gross profit of R23.3-billion for the year, a 240% increase on the R6.8-billion of its 2019 financial year.
Future uncertain, the future of Mopani mine in Zambia remains uncertain as majority stake holder, Glencore, who owns 78% of the mine has put the sale of Mopani Copper Mine on the table, after placing the mine into care and maintenance in April earlier this year.
Stay tuned …
“We Generate Fears While We Sit. We Overcome Them By Action”
Border Mayhem, despite efforts being made at Beitbridge border post to reduce heavy congestion, things are just not going their way especially since the curfew that was recently placed in Zimbabwe only allows the once 24hour operation to operate on a 12-hour shift. It has been almost two weeks now since the curfew was placed and cargo continues to build up both north and south of the border.
“One of the issues we’re experiencing at the moment is the runners that can’t cross the border,”
“Before the six-to-six night curfew was implemented, runners from Zim would cross the border and collect all the necessary monies for road tolls required to carry on north. These include things like coupons to get through Chirundu.
Unfortunately, because of the curfew, the runners can’t come through anymore and money can only be collected once drivers are on the Zim-side.
Another issue that adds to this is that the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority’s Documents Processing Centre is closed during the curfew.
However, there is some relief as authorities south of the border have been checking trucks in the queue and directing the drivers with incomplete documentation to move their cargo into the various trucking yards thus allowing drivers with correct documentation to proceed to the border.
It is also noted that trucks are being cleared faster on the Zim side as the officials are easing their expectations on how many trucks should be checked for smuggled goods.
Earlier in the week there were reported positive COVID cases and the border had to be closed for fumigation on Monday.
Following on from Beitbridge, a truck part at Zeerust on the Platinum Highway going onto the Trans-Kalahari Corridor in Botswana has been closed, originally it was said that this was due to a positive COVID case but upon further investigation the result of the closure came from municipal protest action being responsible for the issues that had an impact on the border.
Also, earlier this week, Kasumbalesa had closed its gates. This stems from political unrest in the DRC. Information received indicated that there was ongoing resistance to the political leadership of that province.
It is also noted that that solo journeys were discouraged because of the risk of armed assailants. In one case, assailants sporting assault rifles threatened a driver with his life and immobilised his truck by removing its batteries, which were thrown into roadside bushes.
Cape Town Port Gets the Nod, the middle of month deadline to clear the backlog seems to be well on course and the Western Cape Exporters’ Club (WCEC) had released information indicating that delays at the Cape Town Container Terminal (CTCT) are down to a day.
Based on a daily lockdown report issued by Transnet Port Terminals, the club said there were two vessels berthed at the CTCT – the MSC Shannon and the Santa Isabel with six teams of port staffers working the vessels.
It is recorded so far that 11,900 containers had been worked at the port last week although this number could have been higher if it wasn’t for a mechanical breakdown. Currently there is maintenance being done on the cranes.
The port has been battered over the past few weeks by heavy winds and massive swells but the waters are calm and the skies are clear which is great news.
More positive news coming from further north off the coast line, Durban Container Terminal took delivery of another 13 electric straddle carriers over the weekend.
According to a Transnet statement, the DCT Pier 2 now has a fleet of 15 new electric straddle carriers which are due to be commissioned and handed over to operations this month.
“The eighth-generation equipment arrived fully assembled with improved drive technology, starting reliability, maintainability, safety, usability, ergonomics as well as an ability for a computer application to read data from the control system via Ethernet – providing comprehensive detail on statistics, real-time performance data and operational reports,” according to Transnet.
Although there is a lot of positives in the industry so far there is however a dark cloud as the industry braces itself for massive additional charges after Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) asked for a whopping 19.74% tariff hike for the 2021/22 financial year.
This comes as the Ports Regulator of South Africa on Tuesday confirmed it had received the annual TNPA tariff application and that it had started a process of public consultation.
In its application for a nearly 20% tariff hike, TNPA stated that the South African economy had been challenged with slow economic growth, underinvestment, and increasing levels of unemployment for some time.
“The recent downgrades of South Africa’s sovereign credit rating to sub-investment grade by rating agencies has added to the woes of government burdened with rising debt levels, collapsing state-owned enterprises, and weak business confidence levels.
The Authority argued that it was viewed as a catalyst for economic growth and therefore more than ever needed to deliver on its mandate. To do so it required the 19.74% tariff hike.
Celebrating a milestone, August 24th calls for celebrations in Namibia as The Port of Walvis Bay will celebrate the opening of their new container terminal which was commissioned last year.
The NCT has recorded throughput of 115 146 s (TEU) in eight months of operation, and anticipates an upward growth trajectory despite the effects of Covid-19.
Another milestone for the port was its record-breaking 46 berth moves per hour on the Maersk Lunz earlier this year.
Gold Price Reaches New High, Gold advanced to a fresh record high on Wednesday – pushing towards the $2,050/oz mark after breaking through $2,000/oz on Tuesday on the back of a weakening dollar, falling US Treasury yields and expectations of more stimulus measures for the pandemic-ravaged global economy.
Bullion is up nearly 35% so far this year and is one of the best-performing assets in 2020. The precious metal is benefiting from heightened uncertainty around the long-term effects of the global health crisis, as more investors turn to safe-haven assets and an alternative store of value in a low-yield environment.
DRC suspends tax exemption, Democratic Republic of Congo is suspending the value-added tax (VAT) exemption on imports by mining companies in an effort to bolster state revenue, the budget minister said.
Jean-Baudouin Mayo told the finance minister to implement the government’s decision to suspend the exemption after cabinet agreed the move last week, according to a letter dated July 31.
Congo, Africa’s top copper producer, had exempted mining companies from paying VAT on imports since 2016 to help them during a commodity price downturn.
According to Louis Watum, president of Congo’s chamber of mines, mining firms had not been consulted before the government agreed to reimpose the tax, a move he said would hit cashflow.
“We want to make the government understand that if they begin to row back entirely on legal agreements, it will not help the business climate in our country,” he said.
Congo’s economy, which has been damaged by the coronavirus crisis that hammered the demand of copper and other forms commodities, is forecast to contract by 2.4% this year.
The International Monetary Fund has approved more than $731 million of disbursements in the past year to help the economy.
Congo’s foreign exchange reserves were just $836 million at the end of July, which is only enough to cover just over three weeks of imports, according to the central bank.
ArcelorMittal SA falls deeper, last week Africa’s steel giants released a statement advising that the company fell deeper into a half-year loss as demand for steel dropped due to COVID and output declined after operations were shut during lockdown.
ArcelorMittal SA said some parts of its business would remain idle until demand recovered which includes placing its melting operations at its Vereeniging works on care and maintenance from the third quarter. The company expects steel demand to be between 70% – 75% pre-lockdown levels for the foreseeable future.
Coming from a demanding 2019, the first half of 2020 proved to be a difficult time with the impact on business due to COVID. The steel producer which has long battled against cheap imports, rising costs and an embattled local economy, said last month it had begun talks to cut unspecified number of jobs as it tries to cut costs.
Job cuts are a sensitive topic in South Africa where unemployment currently stands at a record high of around 30%.
Now with the latest rumours of plate shortages looming due to lack of billets, the projected company losses will most likely take a bigger hit.
“We May Encounter Many Defeats But We Must Not Be Defeated”
Tensions flare at Beitbridge, following weeks of up and down madness at the Beitbridge Border Post drivers have finally said enough is enough! Over the past week, the queue going north at Beitbridge has grown, with reports emerging of corrupt police officials soliciting R500-R1000 bribes but the drivers are now pushing back.
From early morning on Tuesday this week, video footage emerged of truckers blocking the path of another truck being escorted by police to the front of the queue, the drivers confronted the official insisting the truck return to the back of the queue. This is not an isolated incident.
The queue is currently sitting around the 16km mark in advance of the potential shutdown.
Maersk resumes operations at CT Northbound, Strategies to reduce the backlog at the Port of Cape Town are bearing fruit, with Maersk announcing that it will resume calls at the port on the northbound rotation of the South Africa Europe Container Service (Saecs).
Due to prolonged delays at the port caused by Covid-19 staff shortages, Maersk announced in June that it had decided to bypass Cape Town on the Saecs rotation between Durban and the Port of Algericas (WAF1).
However, in a customer advisory notice released yesterday, Maersk said: “Waiting time in Cape Town terminal has decreased significantly which has allowed us to review our Saecs product.”
“We are pleased to inform you that we will revert back to Cape Town with our Saecs northbound call and resume WAF1 in Port Elizabeth to cover the Eastern Cape market to Europe.”
The shipping line will however continue to bypass the Cape Town southbound and there will be no change to import routings to Port Elizabeth and Durban.
Slump in production, Anglo America’s platinum production slumped by 25% in the first half of 2020 due to the lockdowns imposed in both South Africa and Zimbabwe.
It was also stated that total refined production including tolling declined by 46% to 1,246,900 ounces as the temporary closure of ACP and load-shedding in the first quarter impacted production.
Whilst things look a little bleak on the platinum side, Gold’s record run to almost $2,000 an ounce has burnished cash flows and driven a surge in shares of bullion producers. The rally provides a renewed test of discipline for Barrick Gold Corp. and peers after a similar climb a decade ago prompted a spate of inflated deals and overly optimistic investments that wasted billions.
For gold-mining companies, this is great news, with costs contained even after pandemic-related closures, virtually all are churning out impressive cash. In the first three months, Toronto-based Barrick alone generated $438 million in free cash flow based on a realized price of not far off $1,600, compared to $146 million a year earlier.
Valuations look better too, especially for the sector’s largest players.
Power constraints choking sectors, South Africa continues to face electricity woes and there does not seem to be any light at the end of this tunnel.
Earlier in the year newly elected CEO of Eskom, André de Ruyter, positively said that there would only be three days of load shedding this winter however after three weeks of constant load shedding various sectors within the country are feeling the effects, especially the steel sector, this coupled with the impact of COVID and the never ending steel price increases which have now become a back to back pattern, the industry faces serious challenges with high prices, high demand but low output as the lockdown and electricity issues puts strain on production.
So far this year we have seen steel increase on average by 15-20% with rumours of further increases monthly throughout the remainder of 2020.
“Don’t Let Yesterday Take Up Too Much of Today”
Chirundu 24/7, One of, if not, the most problematic borders on the important North-South Corridor into the copper belt area of Zambia and the DRC last night, told the Federation of East and Southern African Road Transport Associations (Fesarta) that it was open on a 24/7 basis. This comes after previous investigations earlier in the year showed that the border could and should operate at 24 hours seven days a week.
However, the investigations earlier in the year were not actually meant for the border to operate at this level but rather to identify challenges preventing the Zambezi crossing between Zimbabwe and Zambia from returning to previously established OSBP (One Stop Border Post) systems and services.
Mike Fitzmaurice, CEO of FESARTA said the following: “We looked at what it would take to make things work and spoke to officers and customs officials. We found that there’s enough will to make it work and received commitment from all parties concerned to solve Chirundu’s congestion issues.”
The 24/7 decision is effective immediately – and while 24/7 operations were still at a tentative stage, the remainder of the year would be used to fine-tune legal-technical aspects of the OSBP.
Fitzmaurice said it was reassuring that the recommendations made to Zimra and the ZRA following January’s fact-finding mission had been taken to heart, and that it was hoped Chirundu would in time be restored to the OSBP it used to be about 10 years ago.
Congestion strikes Beitbridge again, earlier in the week queues stretching around 8kms formed again south of Beitbridge as ZIMRA has ramped up their game on preventing groceries bought in South Africa being smuggled north across the border. The queue had reduced a bit as earlier in the week it was reported to be around 12Kms however frustrations are still mounting, according to reports ZIMRA officials are searching each and every truck.
There has also been reports of police taking this opportunity to exploit drivers of a reported R500 to jump the queue.
In addition to Zimra’s decision to tighten up on truck checking, staff working for the revenue authority also decided to embark on a go-slow for reasons unexplained.
Another growing concern is the safety of the drivers and in fact other road users, the drivers don’t get to sleep for around 2 days as the queue slowly crawls and once they have been released the drivers are extremely tired and exhausted from not having a good nights rest, thus putting potential dangers to themselves and other road users.
Federation of East and Southern African Road Transport Associations (Fesarta) has been in contact with ZIMRA officials in a bid to clear the congestion.
“There are better ways to deal with smuggling. Checking each and every truck causes massive delays and forces drivers to sit in their trucks for days waiting to get through the border. By the time they finally get through they’re unfit to drive.” Fitzmaurice said.
This is just adding further pressure to all parties involved, drivers are missing deadlines, hauliers are being charged demurrage and projects on the receiving end are being delayed.
JUST IN! following yesterday’s announcement of the 6pm-6am curfew, the slow chug of traffic through Zimra’s facility has been slowed even more, especially because the Documents Processing Centre (DPC) is only working 12 hours a day.
“In other words you have a 24-hour border with the DPC only running for half that,” said Mike Fitzmaurice, chief executive of the Federation of East and Southern African Road Transport Associations (Fesarta).
Earlier Fitzmaurice said Zimra was currently only managing about 30 trucks and hour, yet around 1000 trucks head to that border every day.
At the going rate it means only some 360 trucks are processed and cleared daily, while more and more trucks join the growing queue.
Zimra has just advised that the situation at the DPC centres was being addressed with government. But in view of the curfew introduced yesterday as an emergency restriction to curb the spread of the virus they had no choice but to comply.
They are appealing the ruling to allow DPC to continue working 24 hours but can give no time frame to the resolution of the situation.
Freight industry on its knees, As the industry continues to battle the full extent of Covid-19, the South African Association of Freight Forwarders (Saaff) has provided stats that reveal the extent of the damage.
Saaff estimates that local importers are facing around R1.4 billion in storage and demurrage costs accumulated during level-5 lockdown and more than 20 000 containers piling up in storage facilities whilst continued border congestions add to this burden.
“Road freight in this country is on its knees,” says Marcus Ellappan, director of road freight for Bidvest International Logistics (BIL). “There’s a regional imbalance of freight due to the decline in the economy, which means hauliers are battling to generate revenue, let alone operate profitably, especially on return loads. The protests by truck drivers against the hiring of foreign nationals are impacting utilisation of assets, which also impacts negatively on profitability. Some hauliers are now downsizing fleets as trucks stand idle, and with that jobs are being lost.”
COVID compliance is another nail in the coffin for the freight industry whilst the increase of PPE hijackings adds more pressure.
Light at the end of the tunnel, DRC announced that the state of emergency has been lifted, people in the Democratic Republic of Congo are slowly resuming normal activities in the wake of Covid-19 health emergency.
President Tshisekedi has ordered a three-stage reopening of business activities, schools, and borders.
In a televised address late on Tuesday, President Felix Tshisekedi announced an end to the Covid-19 health emergency enforced since 24 March.
This involved closing DRC’s borders with nine neighbouring countries, as well as shutting down schools, bars and restaurants.
Tshisekedi said that, from Wednesday 22 July, all shops, banks, restaurants, cafes, firms and bars would be allowed to reopen. Public transport can resume, and large gatherings will be permitted.
Back on Track, The Port of Cape Town is making headway in addressing its congestion challenges and is well on track clawing back lost ground.
Following staff shortages, lockdown congestions and backlogs, rough seas and stormy weather the port is back on track.
Information shared earlier revealed that at the Cape Town Container Terminal (CTCT) five vessels were in roadstead and that there were six vessels waiting to be worked. That figure is at least half of what it once was, when up to 12 vessels could be seen at anchorage, waiting for much-delayed berthing slots.
There are still gangs serving the terminal and the target of 2500 moves per day was smashed yesterday when at least 3200 moves were recorded. This is great news for the port.
The Multi-Purpose Terminal (MPT) too is doing well, with two mobile cranes and six straddle carriers in full operation.
At the time of this morning’s stakeholder session, three vessels had been worked and delays are said to be only two days.
“A champion is defined not by their wins but by how they can recover when they fall.”