Sunday, 20th May 2018


Articles related to mining

South African mining firm Tharisa has bought a 90 percent stake in Salene Chrome Zimbabwe Limited, it said on Wednesday, gaining access to rich chrome deposits and growing its presence in Zimbabwe.

Tharisa previously announced an interest to move into Zimbabwe’s Great Dyke region, which is considered to have chrome and platinum reserves comparable to those it mines in the Bushveld region of South Africa.

In Wednesday’s statement, it did not disclose financial terms, saying only they required “nominal upfront payment”.

“Tharisa considers this to be a highly prospective opportunity to meaningfully expand its chrome mining interests,” it added.

Zimbabwe has attracted intense investor interest and has promised favourable terms for miners as it seeks to reboot its economy after a coup that pushed out veteran leader Robert Mugabe last year. 

So far, much of the interest has not been matched with hard cash.

Cyprus-based Karo Resources, owned by the Pouroulis family that leads Tharisa, signed a $4.2 billion outline deal in March to develop a platinum mine and refinery in Zimbabwe, although it was not clear when the investment would be made.

Tharisa has bought the new 90 percent chrome stake from the Leto Settlement Trust, also part of the Pouroulis family holdings. 

Leto will retain a 10 percent stake in Salene and be entitled to a 3 percent royalty from the sale of the chrome concentrate.

Salene has been awarded three special grants under the Zimbabwe Mines and Minerals Act covering an area of approximately 9,500 hectares (95 square kilometres) on the eastern side of the Great Dyke.


Global miners Glencore and Barrick Gold expect to receive a prospecting licence for a nickel joint venture in Tanzania after the government cancelled its retention licence, Barrick said.

The retention licence of the undeveloped Kabanga nickel project was one of 11 licences cancelled as part of enforcement of a new mining regulations which were approved in January.

Retention licences are granted to mining companies that want to hold the rights to a deposit, but cannot develop that area immediately due to technical constraints, adverse market conditions or other economic factors.

“In order to transition to the new licence structure implemented in January, the project partners have applied for a Prospecting Licence covering the same area as the Retention Licence,” Barrick said in a statement. 

The company said it had been in talks with Barrick and the government in recent months over the Kabanga project. The companies expect to receive the prospecting licence but did not provide a timeline.

Tanzania is seeking a bigger slice of the pie from its vast mineral resources by overhauling the fiscal and regulatory regime of its mining sector. 

The cancelled retention licence was due to expire in 2019, Barrick said, adding that a prospecting licence would be valid for four years.


South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has submitted wage hike demands in the gold sector of up to 37 percent over a two year period, according to a document submitted to the Chamber of Mines seen by Reuters. 

The demands far exceed the current inflation rate of 3.8 percent and suggest potentially tough negotiations with companies that have been battling to contain soaring costs in the world’s deepest mines.

The document, dated April 23, says the NUM wants the basic monthly pay for entry-level underground workers to rise to 10,500 rand ($83) over the next two years, which translates into annual increases of between 15 and 18.5 percent, depending on the company.

This is less than opening demands of up to 75 percent by the NUM in previous negotiations, a sign that lower inflation and food prices may be moderating expectations. The three-year agreements reached in 2015 saw basic wage hikes of between 10 and 13 percent per year.

The total package a miner receives is higher than the basic wage as it also includes housing and other allowances.

The chamber negotiates in the gold sector on behalf of Harmony Gold, Sibanye-Stillwater, AngloGold Ashanti, and a smaller producer.

Wages account for around half of the costs in South Africa’s gold mining industry and companies have in the past said the cycle of double-digit, above-inflation pay hikes cannot be sustained, unless prices rise considerably.

Unions say wages remain too low, a legacy of apartheid when the black mining labour force was ruthlessly exploited. The NUM has also said its average member typically has eight dependants, straining their ability to provide for their households and fueling their demands. 

Negotiations should kick off in June and other unions still have to submit their demands, but the NUM said it wanted the talks to be complete by July 1, when the next agreements are supposed to begin.


Canada-listed junior miner Thor Explorations aims to bring Nigeria’s first large-scale gold mine online in early 2020, its CEO said, as the West African country seeks to diversify its economy away from oil and gas.

Following the commodity price crash of 2015-16, the World Bank in April 2017 said it was providing funds to help the Nigerian government develop its neglected mining sector.

Projects under way include Thor Explorations’ Segilola Gold Project, located in Osun State, which CEO Segun Lawson says aims to produce gold in the first quarter of 2020 and has probable gold reserves of around 500,000 ounces.

“Thor is currently developing the country’s most advanced gold mine,” Lawson said in a telephone interview. He says he has a mining and exploration licence and is considering his options for raising $72 million to get the mine into production.

Lawson bought the Segilola project in 2016 for $3.1 million in cash plus 6 million Thor shares.

He promises rapid payback on the investment once production starts. Thor Exploration’s stock has climbed 50 percent this year while gold prices have only risen around 1 percent.

The World Bank has provided around $150 million to the Nigerian government to kickstart non-oil sectors after the economy was hit by a fall in oil prices, which are now recovering. 

The Bank’s funding is meant to help the government formalise the artisanal mining sector, improve environmental practices and support infrastructure improvements for larger scale mines.

Mining provides only around 0.5 percent of GDP, according to World Bank figures, as the sector has struggled to attract foreign investment and to meet domestic needs, forcing costly imports.

The oil sector accounts for an estimated 8.7 percent of GDP and is critical for foreign exchange and fiscal revenue.

The World Bank in emailed comments said gold “offers good prospects” although many miners say other metals, such as iron ore, are more useful.

Martin Wood, CEO of Australian-listed Kogi Iron, would not put a date on when the company could begin production in Nigeria, but said it was looking for investors to provide around $350 million. 

The company plans to build a steel plant using local iron ore and coal.

While a project in land-locked Kogi state, is not well-positioned to export, it has the infrastructure to sell domestically and could envisage 100 percent profit margins, while reducing Nigeria’s import dependency, Wood said.


Former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe will not appear before a parliament committee this week to answer questions on multi-billion-dollar corruption in the diamond industry after the hearing was postponed, a lawmaker said on Monday.

The 94-year-old Mugabe had been summoned to appear before a mines and energy committee on Wednesday.

But the member of parliament who is leading the inquiry said the hearing had been postponed to a date yet to be decided by the clerk of parliament.

"The committee had already resolved to invite the former president to give evidence," Temba Mliswa, mines and energy committee chairperson told AFP. "It is the clerk of parliament who will write to him (Mugabe) to come to parliament." 

Mugabe's name did not appear on the parliament committee meetings scheduled for this week.

The lawmakers plan to question Mugabe over his 2016 claim that the country had lost $15bn due to corruption and foreign exploitation in the diamond sector.

The committee has already interviewed former ministers, police and intelligence chiefs to answer on diamond mining operations at the vast Chiadzwa gem fields.

Mugabe ruled Zimbabwe from 1980 until he was ousted last year after the military took over briefly and his once-loyal Zanu-PF party turned against him.

The former ruler, whose own regime was accused of siphoning off diamond profits, has described his ousting as a coup, and that it must be "undone".

Zimbabwe discovered alluvial diamonds in Chiadzwa, in the east of the country, over 10 years ago, and rights groups have accused security forces of using brutal methods to control the scattered deposits.

Rights groups say over 200 people were killed during operations to remove illegal panners from the area.

Amid allegations of massive looting, Zimbabwe allowed several diamond companies to mine the area - most of them as joint ventures between the government and Chinese firms.


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