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”
ZSE suspends operations, The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange advised that all operations have been suspended until further notice.
“Whilst we await the guidance from our regulators on the operational modalities going forward, we notify our stakeholders that trading has been suspended until further notice.” – statement issued by the Secretary for Information.
Brokers have been scrambling to find reasons to inform investors as to why their money has disappeared.
On a positive note, experts have advised that Zimbabwe can significantly narrow its debt if the country manages its vast natural resources in a sustainable manner although the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened Zimbabwe’s debt deficit.
Studies have shown that Zimbabwe holds 13million tonnes of Gold, 2.8 Billion tonnes of Platinum and 16.5million carats of Diamonds just to name a few precious resources.
Dr Moyo said, “with this natural wealth, the country could harness it for development without overly relying on erratic external flows”.
Kopfontein delays continue, Freight flow at the Skilpadshek border is still taking a knock from COVID related issues, the border which is a vital access point connecting South Africa to Botswana and Namibia is facing continued delays as the Botswana health authorities continue with their inflexible coronavirus testing measures for all truck drivers entering the country which requires the drivers to wait up to 72hours for their results.
Mike Fitzmaurice, chief executive of the Federation of East and Southern African Road Transport Associations (Fesarta) said that it doesn’t look like the situation is going to change anytime soon.
“Restrictive testing is a real problem at the border, using Kopfontein for alternative access into Botswana because it’s not as busy as Skilpadshek is also still inconvenient because a lot of trucks have to head back south towards the TAC once they have passed through the border.” Fitzmaurice said.
Further South, ATDF (The All Truck Driver’s Foundation) has denied that its organisation disrupted transport on South African roads and intimidated truck drivers, footage has emerged of two cars sporting ATDF banners, parked on the yellow chevron section of the Key Ridge compulsory truck stop between Marianhill Toll Plaza and Pietermaritzburg.
Sifiso Nyathi the national secretary of ATDF said they were just asking for donations from drivers to boost the struggling organisation’s coffers.
The Federation of East and Southern African Transport Associations (Fesarta) said: “There is a car with an ATDF banner stopping and checking trucks looking for foreign drivers, please be alert”
Nyathi rubbished these reports by saying “We weren’t stopping the truck. There is no stop street on the highway. We were only asking for money.”
It’s not the first time that the ATDF has been accused of intimidating truck drivers, especially on the N3 where scenes of violent arson attacks over the past few years, apparently in opposition to foreign nationals working in South Africa’s road transport sector, have sparked wide-scale xenophobic unrest, claiming lives, destroying property and making headlines the world over.
Assistance for Cape Town Port, twenty specialised employees from Durban Container Terminal have volunteered to assist with delays at Cape Town Port, the teams consists of driver articulated vehicles, rubber tyre gantry cranes and ship-to-shore crane drivers boasting over 100 years of collective work experience.
“Both the container and multi-purpose terminals at the Port of Cape Town have been operating at reduced capacity since the introduction of the lockdown regulations.
“However, with the easing of the lockdown, port activities have increased. The container terminal is currently operating at 60% and the multi-purpose terminal at 75% capacity.
“The portside, which is responsible for marine operations, is only operating at 60% human resource capacity, but is able to offer full marine services. Transnet added.
The team will assist in improving cargo movement and extra staff availability.
Acting chief operations officer at Transnet Port Terminals, Velile Dube, said: “Despite all the challenges, we have been able to reduce the number of vessels waiting at anchorage from 11 to five vessels today.
“We have managed to increase the number of gangs from four to five and are now receiving additional staff to help with shifts.”
Cape Town Port seems to be the only port battling with cargo movement, as the City continues to feel the effects of COVID mainly due to it being the epicentre of South Africa’s outbreak.
Settling the debt, one of Zambia’s major copper mines has committed to pay K8 million out of the K58 million it owes the Kitwe City Council.
On Wednesday afternoon, bailiffs paid the Mine a visit in trying to recover debt owed to the local authority, Copperbelt security rushed to the mine in a-bid to intercept the bailiffs but later all 3 parties entered a closed-door meeting.
Journalists were later addressed and were advised that an agreement had been reached on how the debt will be settled.
“The status is that the amount is K58 million. We have negotiated to pay in instalments and today (Wednesday), the mine will pay K8 million and the rest will be paid in instalments. That is the position,” Nundwe said.
“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us”
Political interference, news just in, caution has been sent out to transporters and drivers as unrest broke out at near a market just south of the Kasumbalesa border, there are claims of a faction war as a political member was dismissed from parliament, currently there are no cases of injuries or damage to vehicles but transporters are urged to not proceed to the Kasumbalesa border.
Continued delays, the Zimbabwean Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) has decided to check every truck entering the country, only a certain amount of trucks are allowed to be released every hour by SARS which is again leading to continued delays and creating longer queues going north at the Beitbridge border post, transporters as well as importers and exporters await an update from Shipping and Forwarding Agents’ Association of Zimbabwe, there is a concern too about the amount of weight the bridge can handle as the trucks sit stationary.
Drivers are calling on help from SADC as their working conditions worsen, a driver who used his phone to record the congestion in Botswana just south of the Kazangula border post said the following “We are about 100 trucks, there’s a single toilet, no water, no food, this is so inhuman. We are appealing to the SADC to do something about it.”
Since then the Botswana Presidential Covid-19 task team has seen the footage and has re-assured the public and relevant stakeholders that they are continuously looking at ways to streamline processes and overcome any challenges.
According to Freight News, “the Presidential Task Team on Covid-19 has directed that, with immediate effect, all truck drivers entering Botswana will now be required to produce evidence of negative Covid-19 results that are not more than 72 hours old, if your test results come in after 48 hours you then have one day to transit into Botswana.”
“So, if you’re stuck in a queue with all the drivers waiting for their results, your valid test will no longer be considered in Botswana and you would need to be tested again.” Said one transporter.
Level 3, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last Sunday that the whole of South Africa will be going into Level 3 from the 1st of June allowing for the majority of the economy to open up however on Tuesday, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize advised that some coronavirus hotspot areas could remain at level 4, this is to be determined on the amount of cases reported in these areas and will be re-evaluated every two weeks.
Doors closed… For now, AngloGold Ashanti has temporarily shut its doors on mining operations following 164 miners testing positive, the world’s deepest gold mine just recently resumed operations at 50% capacity but due the positive tests results, has been forced to halt operations at the Mponeng Mine.
Sibanye-Stillwater may not resume at 100% just yet says CEO Neal Froneman.
“We are not even sure that we will ramp up to 100%, and we will have to assess that in the next phase of the ramp-up,” he said, adding that the implementation of safety measures would be challenging at deep operations.
“What I have assured is that we are not putting commercial issues ahead of the wellbeing of our employees.”
There are more cases expected at the various South African mines which is going to put pressure on operations and the country’s economy however positivity is on the rise as the country gears up for Level 3.
“When nothing is sure, everything is possible.”