Executives, investors and government officials meet in Cape Town this week at the African Mining Indaba, the continent’s biggest gathering of one of its most essential industries.
The gold sector is a hot topic this year, after two giant deals reignited interest in bullion producers, prompting speculation over who might be next. Tailings dams are also in the spotlight, after Vale SA’s disaster in Brazil.
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Here are the latest developments, updated throughout the
day. (Time stamps are local time in Cape Town.)
Highlights from Tuesday:
* AngloGold’s CEO suggested the company may provide an update on
the company’s plans to streamline its assets when it reports
annual results this month.
* Barrick chief Mark Bristow said the industry needs to change
its mindset on “instant gratification.”
Giant Cobalt Project (12 p.m.)
One of world’s biggest cobalt projects will start
production “very shortly,” according to its owner. Eurasian
Resources Group S.a.r.l.’s Metalkol Roan Tailings Reclamation
project began copper production last September and cobalt output
will start soon, said ERG’s marketing director for copper and
cobalt African sales, Giles Smith.
Read more about the project here
Supply levels will depend on market demand for the metal,
Smith said. Cobalt production will start at 14,000 tons a year,
and could ramp up in second and third phases to reach 24,000
tons at full capacity, he said. The company could potentially
achieve annual cobalt output of 50,000 tons from its four Congo
operations, Smith said.
Barrick’s Bristow on ‘Instant Gratification’ (11:30 a.m.)
Barrick Gold Corp. Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow was
characteristically scathing of the rest of the industry,
criticizing what he calls “chronic short-termism” on the part of
mining executives, governments and investors.
“You have a tough balance sheet, a difficult year: you
increased the taxes. You are motivated by a bonus that requires
production: you high-grade your mines. As an investor, you
demand dividends before the investment has arrived and started
to deliver value,” he said. “We have seen it over the last five
years across Africa.”
Bristow took over as CEO of Barrick after its purchase of
Randgold Resources Ltd. Going forward, the company “will be
investing substantially in our future, hunting not for ounces
but for profitable ounces,” he said.
AngloGold to Discuss Streamlining (11 a.m.)
AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. CEO Kelvin Dushnisky said he remains
of the view that the company’s asset portfolio would benefit
from streamlining. He indicated the Johannesburg-based miner may
have more to say on the subject when it reports full-year
results later this month.
The company’s Obuasi mine in Ghana will be an engine of
growth for AngloGold and is one of its top priorities this year,
he said. Mines of Obuasi’s size and economics “don’t come around
very often,” he said.
On AngloGold’s remaining South African mine, Mponeng,
Dushnisky said the company can operate the asset for another
eight years based on its current spending plans. Beyond that, it
will require further investment to extend the mine’s life.
That’s not a decision that the company needs to make now, he
Ghana Illegal Mining Fight, Steel Plans (9:50 a.m.)
Ghana’s efforts to combat illegal mining are yielding
dividends, but the fight continues, President Nana Akufo-Addo
told delegates on Tuesday. In one example of progress, fish
recently reappeared in the Ankobra River, he said.
“We are determined to strengthen the regulatory framework
for mining so that illegal mining does not reappear,” he said.
Ghana is also taking steps toward exploiting its bauxite
and iron ore deposits and wants to develop local industries
around them, the president said. It’s formed a company that will
take charge of developing an integrated aluminum business and
will ask parliament to approve the establishment of an
integrated iron-and-steel firm.
Africa Finance Corp. (9 a.m.)
Africa Finance Corp. plans to double its investments in
mining on the continent in the next few years. The AFC, which is
backed by countries across Africa, is primarily focused on
infrastructure financing but has been increasing its exposure to
The lender wants to increase its investments to $300
million to $400 million in the next two or three years, head of
natural resources Osam Iyahen said in an interview. “There is an
aggressive hunt for assets,” he said. The AFC, whose investments
include bauxite miner Alufer Mining, wants to double its total
investments to $10 billion.