covid

Trade Winds bimonthly update volume 38

No increase for July! as the steel sector waited in anticipation, no news is good news as no price increase notices were released for the month of July from the various mills within South Africa, however international steel prices still remain volatile.

This will be only the second time this year that steel prices should remain unchanged barring any other factors such as labour increases or production costs.

South Africa in the midst of the third wave, the COVID-19 pandemic has begun running riot in South Africa with cases sky rocketing. Gauteng is now currently the epicentre of the virus.

Last week President Cyril Ramaphosa placed South Africa under alert Level 3 lockdown but with the cases increasing daily there are talks being held this week that the country could move into a higher level and Gauteng itself being placed into a further lockdown beyond that of the national lockdown.

Border updates, Beitbridge border post faced a water shortage earlier this week causing some delays as the work force at the border was reduced to 50%.

However, the issue was resolved and its all systems go at the border post.

According to personnel at the border, the closure was scheduled to last for 12 hours, from dusk till dawn, starting at 6pm on Monday evening and ending at 6am the following morning but the closure lasted for 24 hours.

There were reports last week that Kasumbalesa experienced delays.

The decision by the government in Kinshasa to test cross-border truck drivers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo itself, rather than risk fraudulent PCR test results for Covid-19, resulting in a queue south of its Copperbelt border crossing in the region of nine kilometres towards Chililabombwe.

Late last week Friday DRC officials called off the decision after irate drivers started refusing to cross into DRC at its busy Kasumbalesa border.

Authorities in Kinshasa initially appeared resistant to persuasion, saying that they had recorded a significant case load of fraudulent PCR tests and that they did not have the means to verify results.

However, the Zambian government’s appeal on behalf of transporters resulted in the DRC finally deciding to accept PCR results from other countries and to roll out rapid testing free of charge in the event of drivers arriving at its border without test results.

Sea carriers looking to add additional vessels, two major shipping lines, one focusing entirely on intra-Asian cargo, have collectively ordered four new vessels to be commissioned in 2023/24, supporting the view that ocean freight is on a juggernaut growth path with no slowing in sight.

The news comes amid growing criticism among agents that carriers, the majority of whom are seeing profits well above 50% while freight rates have spiked by as much as 350%, are not investing in enough newbuilds to address the imbalance between cargo demand and service supply.

In certain instances, criticism from the freight forwarding fraternity has been downright antagonistic, with some agents accusing lines of manipulating vessel calling shortfalls to increase rates on the back of capacity problems.

However, the newbuild order book expansion by Evergreen and intra-Asian carrier SITC serves to suggest the opposite, that lines are indeed beginning to look at rebalancing service vs demand.

Zimbabwe loses a third of its gold to Smugglers, Zimbabwe last year lost around a third of its average gold production to the black market.

The smuggling of gold, Zimbabwe’s top foreign currency earner, is estimated to cost the country $1.5 billion in lost revenue per year, according to the international Crisis Group.

Most of the precious metal is siphoned off by informal small-scale miners who sell their findings to illicit gold traders rather than government-appointed officials.

Fidelity Printers and Refiners on Tuesday announced the country had lost around 11 tons of gold to “leakages” in 2020.

The losses were mainly due to payment delays caused by foreign currency shortages that encouraged miners to sell to smugglers instead, FPR’s head of gold operations, Mehluleli Dube, told a parliamentary mining committee.

Gold miners are usually paid in US dollars, a much more stable and desirable currency than the ever-depreciating Zimbabwean dollar. They were legally obliged to sell 40% of their earnings to the central bank at the official exchange rate but that obligation has been reduced to 20% in an attempt to lure miners to bring gold to Fidelity Printers.

Zimbabwe’s official gold production dropped from a record 33.2 tons in 2018 to 19 tons last year mainly due to fewer deliveries from scall-scale miners. It is noted that small scale miners only sold 9.35 tons of gold to formal buyers last year, compared to 17.48 tons in 2019.

Copper prices climb again, the price of copper regained ground on Monday after hitting a two-month low on Friday.  Copper for July delivery was up 0.6% from Friday’s settlement price, reaching $9,196 per tonne midday on Monday in the New York Comex market.

China’s copper exports rose for a third consecutive month in May to reach their highest level since March of last year, customs data showed on Friday, as rising international prices encouraged traders to ship metal abroad.

However, last month’s surge in copper prices on the London Metal Exchange to an all-time high not only made imports less favorable for China, but also spurred shipments in the other direction.

Exports of raw copper and copper products amounted to 79,044 tonnes last month, up 3.4 percent from April and 67.7 percent year-on-year.

SADC leaders to send troops to Moz, Southern African leaders on Wednesday approved the deployment of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Standby Force to Mozambique.

It is a move that demonstrated regional progress in addressing the crisis.

The deployment was approved at an extraordinary summit, held in Maputo, and attended by all 16 member states, including President Cyril Ramaphosa.

South Africa has repeatedly expressed the need for greater intervention in the region, even as Mozambique seemed resistant.

The deployment followed two extraordinary summits held earlier this year could bring some finality to the back-and-forth deliberations on how to respond to the growing regional crisis.

The SADC Standby Force acts as the region’s peacekeeping force and falls under the SADC’s Organ of Politics Defence and Security.

It is constituted when necessary, and the crisis it is responding to will determine the size of the force.

Upcoming Public Holidays:
30th June 2021 – Independence Day (DRC)
5th July 2021 – Heroes Day (Zambia)
6th July 2021 – Unity Day (Zambia)

“By crawling a child learns to stand”

Trade Winds bimonthly update volume 26

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”