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Trade Winds bimonthly update volume 35

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”

Trade Winds bimonthly update volume 31

Steel price increases return!  Earlier this week various mills sent out steel price increase notices in the region of 5% to the sector, again adding further pressure to downstream industries. Constant challenges are being faced as prices continue to rise and the supply of steel is almost non-existent. It seems that the hope of the industry normalizing mid-year has a grey cloud over its head now.

A shock fuel price hike is also in place for the new month adding higher costs to logistics which in turn has negative effects down the line.

Another industry that is facing constant challenges is the plastic sector, Force Majeures implemented by Sasol in South Africa and other producers in America and Europe has resulted in massive increases in the range of 15% month on month is having a damaging effect, affecting prices on mining hose, PVC & HDPE pipes as well as rubber products.

The fuel price hike will also affect the plastic base price.

Border updates, Officials in Zambia stay silent as the Kazangula bridge lays dormant, rumours and guesswork that’s what fills the void of government sector officials who are not forthcoming with trustworthy information about the new bridge at the Kazungula border post between Zambia and Botswana.

Cross border operators carrying freight across the region are forced to use the pontoons which can only handle around 50 – 60 trucks a day whilst the beautiful Kazangula bridge is expected to handle at least 150 trucks a day. However, in all its glory, the bridge remains closed in the backdrop.

Rumour has it amongst transporters that the only reason the bridge remains closed is because money is still owed to the contractors by the Zambian government.

China’s Tsingshan to build mine and steel plant, China’s Tsingshan Holding Group is set to start developing an iron ore mine and a carbon steel plant in Zimbabwe from May, three years after the firm first announced the investment deal.

Tsingshan signed a $1-billion outline agreement with Zimbabwe in June 2018 to build a two-million-tonne-a-year steel plant and has been carrying out exploration and seeking more mineral concessions.

The Chinese company, through its Zimbabwean subsidiary Afrochine, already produces ferrochrome, which will also be used in the production of steel.

China has over the past few years emerged as a major foreign investor in Zimbabwe, with its firms mostly involved in mining of gold, chrome and diamonds and building power stations.

Zimbabwe has previously announced that it has a drive to increase mining revenue to $12Billion by 2023, last year, minerals earned the country $2.4-billion in exports.

Chimona mining invests in Bubi, Midlands based Chimona Mining Company has spread its wings to Bubi District in Matabeleland North where it has acquired new gold mining rights and will be setting up a processing centre under a US$500 000 investment.

The venture is expected to create more job opportunities in Matabeleland North and promote the formalisation of artisanal mining activities in Bubi, which is one of the richest gold districts in the country.

ZCCM on lookout for investors, Zambia’s state mining company is on the lookout for further deals as it prepares to complete its acquisition of a majority stake in Glencore’s struggling copper business in the country.

ZCCM Investment Holdings is considering any opportunities to increase the minority shareholdings that it owns in Zambia based companies.

ZCCM became an investment company in 2000 when Lusaka privatised the country’s mining industry, selling off controlling stakes in its prized copper mines to large mining groups. That process created Mopani Copper Mines, the business ZCCM is buying from Glencore, and Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), which is owned by Vedanta Resources.

Last year, ZCCM announced a change in strategy and said it would focus on mining and energy with the ambition of operating assets rather than just being a minority shareholder.

Ivanhoe completes phase one at Kakula, Ivanhoe Mines has completed 80% of phase one work at the Kakula copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo with first production targeted for July.

Ivanhoe is commissioning the concentrator plant at the Kamoa-Kakula operation, and has stockpiles already totalling over 2.16 million tonnes which contains an estimated 95,000 tonnes of copper.

The second phase expansion is set to begin during the third quarter of 2022. This phase is expected to double the mill throughput to 7.6 million tonnes a year. Phases 1 and 2 combined are forecast to produce up to 400,000 tonnes of copper a year.

Other engineering and construction activities underway at Kamoa-Kakula include the completion of upgrades at the Mwadingusha hydro-electric power plant and associated 220-kilovolt infrastructure to supply the mine with clean, renewable hydropower. The Mwadingusha hydropower plant is expected to deliver approximately 78 megawatts of power to the national electrical grid ahead of the start-up of the Kakula concentrator.

US to train Moz fighters, American military personnel will be spending two months in Mozambique, training the local soldiers in an aid to fight the jihadist insurgents.

The ISS has been in the gas rich Cabo Delgado province since 2017 and over the years have been growing in numbers and becoming more brazen with their attacks.

Earlier this week, the insurgents attacked children as young as 11 years old, beheading them with their violent attack. The violent attacks to date have claimed more than 2600 lives and has displaced over 670,000 people.

Few countries such as the UK, US, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa have voiced their concern and support for Mozambique but unfortunately it seems that its all just talk as the country continues to be battered by the Islamist group.

“A single stick may smoke, but it will not burn”