Trade Winds bimonthly update volume 33

Biggest one yet!  ArcelorMittal SA has just recently given out notice of yet again another steel increase for the month of May, the increase sitting at a staggering R2,250.00 per ton is the biggest one yet.

This will now be the fifth consecutive increase this year with a possible positive outlook in the third quarter where prices are expected to drop.

Along with increased fuel, electricity and labour hikes this won’t be the end of the dark road within the steel sector.

With material being so scarce in South Africa and constant price increases, will SA still be an important game player within the steel sector? Only time will tell.

Border updates, there has been an increase in hijackings at the Beitbridge border post and with the latest developments, Ekhuruleni police officers have been implicated as accomplices.

The National Traffic Anti-Corruption Unit (Ntacu) has slammed the brakes on a traffic and police officers’ syndicate, which has allegedly been hijacking trucks on major Gauteng transportation routes.

The investigation is ongoing and more arrests can be expected. The suspects are expected to appear in court soon.

This seems to be the only burning issue of this nature across Southern Africa borders.   

We would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family of the driver who tragically and unnecessarily lost his life in a robbery at Beitbridge recently.

Ever Given consequences being realised, not only has Egypt filed a multi-million pound compensation claim against the owner of the container ship but Suez Canal Authority has also estimated a $300 million bill for “loss of reputation” and an equal amount charged as a “salvage bonus”.

The responsibility for this massive mishap, that took at least 800 people and more than a dozen tugboats to correct, is now a ping pong between the Japanese vessel owner and the line operator Evergreen.

General Average (GA) was declared by the owner of the vessel which means that there is a potential of spreading the cost of significant expenses amongst shippers.

PowerChina hydro project delayed, work on the 2,400-megawatt facility had been scheduled to start in 2020, but yet another victim of the COVID-19 pandemic, this $4 billion hydropower plant has been suspended until towards the end of 2022.

This project awarded to General Electric Co. and Power Construction Corp. of China aims to ease electricity shortages to both Zambia and Zimbabwe will potentially be funded by domestic pension funds in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Trade and Development Bank a Bujumbura which is a Burundi-based multilateral lender, has been appointed as the lead co-ordinator for financing the project.

A new coal player in Zim, Contango Holdings’ Lubu project in Zimbabwe, which comprises a substantial coking coal resource, ticks all the right boxes to deliver a financially lucrative business.

Lubu covers 19,236 hectares of the highly prospective Karroo Mid Zambezi coal basin which is located in the Hwange mining district in North Western Zimbabwe. 

Historically, around US$20 million has been spent on advancing the project, including the completion of a pre-feasibility study, resourced modelling and mine planning with test work to confirm the presence of thermal and coking coal.

Contango started as a shell company looking to acquire a near-term production asset rather than an exploration asset, and this led to its interest in and purchase of Lubu.

Having reviewed multiple assets, it was determined that Lubu was a project that could bring into production quickly without the need for years of geological work to validate it. With extensive geological work completed, there was no exploration risk involved in the asset.

ZISCO seeking new investors, Zimbabwe’s state-controlled iron and steel company ZISCO has invited new investors to help revive operations at the company that has been the target of interest from Indian and Chinese investors in the past.

ZISCO acting chairman Martin Manuhwa said earlier this week that the firm was again looking for new investors interested in resuscitating the company.

The successful investor would be expected to contract out at least 35% of engineering, procurement and construction business to the local community.

ZISCO owns an iron ore mining unit with an installed capacity of 2.16 million tonnes of ore a year as well as a wire products company.

Interested investors should submit their expression of interest by April 30. Successful investors would then be invited to participate in the bidding process for the funding.

CATL to acquire stake in Kisanfu, Battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) will be acquiring a stake in the Kisanfu copper-cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo for $137.5m.

According to the agreement, CATL New Energy will acquire 25% in China Molybdenum (CMOC) unit KFM Holding, KFM Holding owns a 95% stake in Kisanfu mine while the remaining 5% stake is held by the DRC Government.

The deal is expected to provide CATL with access to what is claimed to be one of the world’s largest, highest-grade undeveloped cobalt and copper projects.

Hunger threat, Almost 1-million people face severe hunger in northern Mozambique, where hundreds of thousands have fled Islamist militant attacks, the UN food agency advised earlier this week.

Islamic State-linked insurgents in March attacked Palma, a town in Cabo Delgado province next to gas projects under development by companies including Total and Exxon. All work in the region has since come to halt as the threat levels are at its peak.

The World Food Programme has noted that 950,000 people are now hungry in Mozambique and has appealed to donors for $82m to confront the crisis.

It seems that that the world has finally opened its eyes as SADC leaders all met in Maputo to discuss a way forward and to determine the response required to fight off the insurgents.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the meeting also agreed to revive a so-called SADC brigade to intervene in the conflict.

It is not confirmed that Mozambique has agreed that SADC forces would help the government fight the Islamic State-linked insurgency.

Under SADC rules, a member state must make an official request for the group to deploy the brigade.

SADC leaders are scheduled to meet again on April 29 to discuss the issue.

“Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable”