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Mar 5, 2015

Book Talk: Africa’s natural wealth: its burden and blessing

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Martin Meredith, one of the most prolific writers on all things African, takes readers in his new book on a 5,000-year journey through the continent, which remains the world’s poorest despite fabulous natural wealth.

The notion of a “resource curse” – the distressing tendency of developing countries to fail to translate their minerals and hydrocarbons into wider prosperity – is a very modern one.

Mar 4, 2015

Proposed South Africa farm size limit is negotiating tactic: minister

BOTHAVILLE, South Africa (Reuters) – A proposal by the South African government to limit farm size to 12,000 hectares is a “negotiating tactic” as it tries to press ahead with the redistribution of land to black farmers, the minister of agriculture said.

“Whenever you are negotiating, you always put forward a figure. What informs the end of that figure is the process of negotiation,” Senzeni Zokwana told Reuters when asked about the 12,000 hectare figure.

Mar 3, 2015

Gold Fields could spend up to $500 million for working mine

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African bullion producer Gold Fields (GFIJ.J: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) can afford to spend $300-$500 million on an acquisition but is only interested in working mines, its chief executive said.

Nick Holland told the Reuters Africa Investment Summit on Tuesday the bulk of mines that fell into that category were in Africa and the Americas and the window of opportunity to strike such a deal was within the next year.

Feb 26, 2015

S.Africa’s Implats says no job cuts in Rustenburg revamp

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 26 (Reuters) – South Africa’s Impala
Platinum (Implats) will revamp its Rustenburg mines to
boost productivity, but staffing levels will stay the same at
the centre of often violent labour unrest, its chief executive
said on Thursday.

Terence Goodlace said at an interim results presentation
that the “smaller, more concentrated” Rustenburg operation aimed
to have more miners focused on a smaller area.

Feb 26, 2015

South Africa’s Implats says aims for “smaller” Rustenburg

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 26 (Reuters) – South Africa’s Impala
Platinum will modernise its Rustenburg mines, the
centre of often violent labour unrest, into smaller operations
to lift profits, the world No. 2 producer of the precious metal
said on Thursday.

Any move to cut jobs could provoke resistance from the
Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which last
year led a five-month strike against Implats, Lonmin Plc
and Anglo American Platinum Ltd.

Feb 24, 2015

Bomb-sniffing elephants trained in South Africa

MABULA, South Africa (Reuters) – In the South African bush, elephants are being trained in the art of “bio-detection” to see if they can use their exceptional sense of smell to sniff out explosives, landmines and poachers.

Supported by the U.S. Army Research Office, the project looks promising.

During a recent test run, a 17-year-old male elephant named Chishuru walked past a row of buckets. A swab laced with TNT scent had been stapled to the bottom of one.

Feb 23, 2015

South Africa’s Harmony Gold haunted by Kusasalethu curse

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 23 (Reuters) – South Africa’s Harmony Gold
must feel cursed by its Kusasalethu mine, where a fire
on Sunday has delivered a fresh blow to the company’s efforts to
boost earnings.

In the latest setback to an operation that has been closed
before because of labour violence and illegal miners, the blaze
took hold deep underground during maintenance work.

Feb 20, 2015

Recycling, war on diesel threaten platinum producers’ price hopes

LONDON/JOHANNESBURG, Feb 20 (Reuters) – Platinum producers
struggling back from South Africa’s longest-ever mining strike
are now contending with threats to a long-awaited price
recovery, notably Europe’s emerging dislike of diesel engines.

The world’s largest platinum miners, crippled by a
five-month stoppage in 2014, have said their companies will do
better this year, largely because they expect a strong price
recovery from six-year lows.

Feb 18, 2015

S.Africa’s Sasol signals dividend cut on low oil price

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 18 (Reuters) – South African
petrochemicals company Sasol signalled it could cut its
dividend to save cash due to the low oil price, sending its
shares down as much as 11 percent in their biggest intra-day
fall in 16 years.

Sasol, the world’s top maker of motor fuel from coal, said
in a statement its earnings would be negatively impacted by the
overall low oil price environment. Oil hit a six-year low in
January, although it has since recouped some of those losses.

Feb 11, 2015

S.Africa’s big platinum strike holds lessons, omens for gold

CAPE TOWN, Feb 11 (Reuters) – South Africa’s gold producers
are gearing up for a showdown with labour that could hasten the
decline of a struggling industry.

With wage agreements expiring in June, the omens are bad: a
lethal rivalry between unions and the precedent of a huge wage
settlement in the platinum sector.

    • About Ed

      "I cover commodities in southerrn Africa, a region that I have returned to after spending over four years covering religion, politics and the Great Recession in America. I am a Canadian citizen and grew up in Nova Scotia."
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