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Friday, 22 August 2014

Electricity hikes stifle economic recovery in South Africa

Eskom being a public company that monopolises the South African energy generation sector, Eskom’s business model allows it to be able to absorb under-recovery of revenue from its customers. “An increase in competition in the form of private sector companies into the industry would force Eskom to rethink their business model,” says Muneerah Salie, industry analyst for energy and environment at Frost & Sullivan Africa.

“The question that remains is for how much longer the average consumer will be able to pay for, or afford, these tariff increases. Currently, municipalities across the country owe Eskom about R3-billion. Taxpayers that are paying their accounts every month might feel that they are being unfairly penalised by having to compensate for those customers that are defaulting on payments. Privatisation of the industry would allow Eskom to develop a more efficient system with a more accurate invoicing and debt collection system.”

Salie says the additional tariff increases are potentially unaffordable for the average South African consumer. “It is also expected that businesses will suffer, with many companies already taking drastic measures in order to remain profitable. Tariff adjustments play a large part in the sustainability of the South African economy and this additional increase is unlikely to aid in economic growth.”

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Investors to give billions to ‘Power Africa’ initiative - Dangote, Citibank, World Bank amongst others

Citibank has pledged to source US$2.5bn in incremental capital to improve access to electricity for millions of people across Africa as part of the ‘Power Africa’ initiative. Business Day, Nigeria reports that Power Africa is a multi-stakeholder partnership between the US government, governments of several African countries and other public and private sector entities, working to accelerate investment in Africa’s power sector over the next several years. 

The report says Citi will also leverage its financing expertise in renewable energy to encourage the adoption and implementation of the appropriate technologies for specific markets. The bank will work with key stakeholders in local capital markets to introduce innovative debt securities and to enhance financial infrastructure. According to the report, Citi operates in over 40 countries in Africa with offices in 16 countries, including key markets such as Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and SA.

The World Bank Group has also announced it would commit US$5bn in new technical and financial support for the electricity project. THISDAY reports that the World Bank’s financial commitment was announced on the second day of the inaugural US-Africa Summit by the president of World Bank Group, Dr Jim Yong Kim.

Also from the on fringes of the US-Africa Summit:

The Boss of Nigerian industrial conglomerate Dangote Industries Aliko Dangote has announced a 50/50 partnership with New York private equity company Blackstone to invest US$5 billion in Africa’s energy infrastructure over the next five years.
Mr Dangote, who outlined the deal while at the Power Africa summit taking place in Washington, said there will be a particular emphasis on power, transmission and pipeline projects.
Dangote said: “For too long, inadequate energy infrastructure in Africa has been a major obstacle to the continent as it seeks to fulfill its economic potential. I am pleased to partner with Blackstone and the Black Rhino team, who have experience of successfully developing large-scale infrastructure projects, to address this issue in a socially conscious way.”
The two companies have agreed to jointly incorporate, own and operate a management company that would be responsible for the development and management of projects identified and agreed upon across the sub-Saharan African.
The investment is facilitated by Black Rhino, a portfolio company of Blackstone Energy Partners and affiliated funds managed by Blackstone, and Dangote Industries.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Ataf has action plan to address tax base erosion

Multinational companies shifting their profits from Africa to low-tax jurisdictions are only partly responsible for the erosion of the continent’s tax revenue bases. Business Day reports that the African Tax Administration Forum (Ataf) believes some countries have signed away their tax revenue because of weak domestic policies, and ill-conceived tax incentives and mining contracts. 

For two years the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has been on a drive to address profit shifting and base erosion and the report says, Ataf agrees with the need for an action plan and has embarked on a drive to address problems that cause base erosion in Africa but are not on the OECD’s agenda. Ataf executive secretary Logan Wort says domestic policies and ofte, badly written mining contracts, erode tax bases in Africa. Ataf will address the tax challenges of e-commerce, hybrid mismatch arrangements, abuse of double tax treaties, the establishment of dummy headquarters and the requirement to disclose aggressive tax-planning arrangements.

Kenya is to impose capital gains and windfall taxes on oil, gas and mining companies within months to ensure it maximised benefits from its mineral resources. Business Report quotes President Uhuru Kenyatta as saying: ‘This is something that we are very clear about. We want to ensure that we as a country also are able to benefit from both the windfall and capital gains tax.’ Tullow Oil and partner Africa Oil have found oil reserves in northern Kenya and the government wants to avoid a similar situation to that in Uganda, where Tullow is contesting in court the state revenue authority’s demand that it pay capital gains tax following its sale of assets.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Glencore eyes Guinea’s iron ore deposits

Glencore has expressed interest in iron deposits in Guinea, although the company said it had not pitched for a stake in Simandou. Reuters reports that Glencore is the latest mining major looking to invest in iron ore assets in Guinea. Most interest is focused on Simandou, one of the biggest deposits, however, any potential investors in Simandou are treading carefully. 

Israeli-owned BSG Resources, which was stripped of its licence to develop part of Simandou following a Guinean corruption investigation, is seeking arbitration and has threatened to sue companies that invest in its former licence area. Three sources close to the government said London-listed Glencore had indicated its interest in investing in Simandou, in a meeting with government officials in Conakry in June.

ArcelorMittal has, meanwhile, announced it had signed deals to purchase stakes in an iron ore project in Guinea. According to an Engineering News report, ArcelorMittal said that it would buy a 43.5% stake in Euronimba from Billiton Guinea, a unit of BHP Billiton and a 13% stake from Compagnie Francaise de Mines et Metaux, a unit of Areva. 

Euronimba holds a 95% indirect interest in the Mount Nimba iron ore project, a deposit with an estimated 935m tonnes of direct shipped ore with an average grade of 63.1% of iron. The site is about 40km from ArcelorMittal’s mine in Liberia. The company should be able to use its Liberian railroad and port facilities, meaning that its capital expenditure would be much lower than otherwise the case, CFO Aditya Mittal said. He added that approval for exporting ore from Guinea to Liberia was critical to the acquisition.

Global heavyweights in the race for $3bn East African oil pipeline project

International firms, some individually and others as consortia, are vying for the contract to build a multibillion-dollar petroleum pipeline connecting the oilfields in KenyaUganda and South Sudan to the proposed Lamu Port, on theKenyan coast.

Designs for the $3-billion Hoima–Lokichar–Lamu pipeline have been received from Tullow Oil and Africa Oil, which has submitted a design for the Lokichar–Lamu route; Toyota Tsusho (Hoima–Manda Bay–Lamu), Tullow, Total and CNOOC (Hoima–Lokichar–Lamu), Lapsset (Juba–Lokichar–Moyale–Lamu) and Total (Hoima–Eldoret–Lamu/Mombasa.

The submission of the designs follow on the request for proposals (RfP) issued by the governments of UgandaKenya and South Sudan in June 2014. The three governments intend to hire a consultant to oversee the feasibility study and preliminary engineering designs of the proposed pipeline.
The consultant will also supervise the imple-mentation of the project, which will include theconstruction of tank terminals in Hoima, Lokichar and Lamu, pumping stations and a 9-km-long pipeline from the Lamu tank terminal to offshore mooring buoys.
“The feasibility study and preliminary design will be jointly financed by the partner States, ensuring that the entire pipeline is designed to the same standards and codes,” the three governments say in a joint communique.
The proposed pipeline will be used to export crude oil from Kenya and Uganda through the Lamu port.
Earlier this month, East Africa Community heads of State (except Tanzania’s PresidentJakaya Kikwete) met in KigaliRwanda, where they resolved to accelerate the project.
Uganda is to submit comments on the RfP to the project steering committee for approval by July 10, 2014, and issuance of an addendum to the RfP [is expected] by July 11, 2014,” reads the communique, which was issued at the end of the summit.
After settling on the design issue, the partners plan to embark on a fundraising campaign. The pipeline project will be one of the largest joint infrastructure projects in the East Africa region.
The pipeline, which is part of the multibillion-dollar Lamu PortSouth Sudan–Ethiopia Transport, or Lapsset, Corridor Project, is a key priority for Kenya and Uganda, which have discovered crude oil reserves in the last few years.Uganda’s endowment is estimated at 3.5-million barrels, while Kenya is determining the level of its reserves.
By John Muchira

Monday, 18 August 2014

Mozambique trying to ease coal companies' pain, but no tax breaks

Mozambique is discussing with its foreign coal mining partners ways to help them ride out depressed markets but will not be offering special tax breaks to ease the pain, its mineral resources minister said on Monday.
Esperanca Bias told Reuters the government understood that companies such as Vale of Brazil and Rio Tinto, which helped Mozambique to start up in 2011 as a coal producer and exporter, were feeling the pain of depressed global prices for coal used in steelmaking and generating power.
The southern African nation, which still bears the scars of a 1975 to 1992 civil war, has the world's fourth-largest untapped recoverable coal reserves, estimated at over two billion tonnes.
Vale is investing billions of dollars on rail and port networks to bring greater volumes of coal to the market, up from a current export capacity of five million tonnes per year. It is targeting 22-million tonnes by 2017/18.
But Vale, which announced an accumulated loss of uS$44-million for Mozambique operations in the first quarter, says it urgently needs to cut operating costs to remain competitive.
"We're studying this," Bias said on the sidelines of the fifth Mozambique Coal Conference in Maputo. "We are working on it to see what can be done from our side." she added.
Mining companies face the challenge of getting coal, mostly from mines in Tete province, over 600 km to 900 kmto ports on the Indian Ocean coast. This is in a nation that urgently needs modern railways and ports.
Comparatively, major coal producer Australia has to carry its coal only about 200 km to ports which give access to the same big overseas export markets of China and India, putting the fledgling southern African producer at a costs and logistics disadvantage.
Bias said that although the government was looking at ways to tackle the challenging logistics, this would not involve any special concessions.
"We don't believe that reducing tax will resolve the problem. We don't think the tax system needs to be changed," she said.

First Nacala Train This Year

Addressing the Maputo conference, the director of Vale's Global Coal Division, Pedro Gutemberg, said the Brazilian company remained committed to Mozambique.
It was investing more than US$4.5-billion in a 900 km railway from Moatize through Malawi to Nacala port in northern Mozambique. Nacala is being developed as a deep-water coal export terminal capable of taking bulk carriers.
"Definitely, the plan is to have the first full train by the end of the year," Gutemberg said.
The Nacala terminal would be tested in January or February to be able to start exporting next year.
Bias said this would complement the existing Sena rail line carrying coal from Tete province to Beira port in central Mozambique. This line had been improved too, she said.
Gutemberg said Vale was talking to prospective partners to join it in Mozambique but he denied this formed part of any potential "exit strategy".
Coal miners are hoping a combination of continuing Chinese demand and the potential growth of the steel market in India will improve long-term coal prices, although prospects for the next few years remain depressed.
Bias said a revision to mining laws currently before parliament offered tax breaks to firms willing to process minerals, including coal, in Mozambique - for example building steelworks or thermoelectric plants or transforming coal into liquefied fuel.
But she made clear this kind of local processing was not necessarily being demanded of the existing coal producers.
"We're not saying the additional value has to be brought by the mining companies," she said. "It would be other companies. But if the mining companies have other industries in their portfolio, why not them too?"

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Mali cancels mining permits

Mali has cancelled 130 mining permits, about 30% of existing permits in the gold-producing West African nation, in a drive to clean up the sector, reports The Africa Report. The new government said in September that it will carry out a complete inventory of existing mining contracts, titles and licences and was ready to renegotiate permits that were not in the country’s interest.

Hassimi Sidibe, a technical adviser in the ministry said the cancelled permits include those held by Malians as well as foreigners and targeted those where no development has taken place. The mines ministry said the cancellation would effectively unfreeze those permits and allow the government to issue them to other investors with the technical and financial ability to pursue explorations.

Gabon selects seven firms for final oil block talks

Gabon’s oil ministry said on Monday it had selected seven firms for a final stage of negotiations as part of an offshore licensing round the government hopes will reverse a chronic decline in output.
The new blocks are located in deep offshore waters — an exploration play that is expensive and uncertain but potentially very rewarding given the similarity of geological structures to oil-rich Brazil, where billions of barrels of oil have been discovered.
Former Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries member Gabon produces about 230,000 barrels a day, down from a peak of close to 400,000 barrels a day in the 1990s.
An oil ministry statement said Impact Oil & Gas, Repsol, Perenco, ExxonMobil, Marathon, Petronas and Ophir were ranked highest after bidding for a total of nine blocks.
"These companies listed are invited to finalise negotiations for the signature of the relevant CEPPs (exploration and production sharing contracts) as soon as possible," according to a statement signed by Oil and Hydrocarbons Minister Etienne Dieudonne Ngoubou.
The statement showed that other companies such as Cobalt, Noble, Royal Dutch Shell and Total had been ranked in second or third place for the blocks.
The ministry said it had the right to open negotiations with the lower-ranking firms if talks with the first-choice companies were unsuccessful.
Bids for another eight blocks offered during the licensing round "did not reach the expectations of the Gabonese Republic", the statement added.
Source: Reuters

Saturday, 16 August 2014

South Sudan fighting delays gold mining by a year

South Sudan will delay the start of gold mining by a year from its planned date in 2016, due to fighting between rival political groups in the world’s newest country, reports Engineering News.

South Sudan is attempting to diversify its economy away from oil by exploiting its gold deposits. It may also have reserves of other minerals such as copper, uranium and clay, which it hopes to exploit with the help of investors. ‘There are a lot of applications coming in ... not only for gold but also copper, marble and limestone from Kapoeta (town) for production of cement,’ Andu Ezbon Adde, undersecretary for mining in the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining, said following a meeting with Australian government officials.

Loisa Cass, first secretary at the Australian High Commission in Juba, said South Sudan’s mining sector had potential but required legislation to create a legal foundation.

Source: Engineering News

Sundance inks Republic of Congo mining convention

Iron-ore developer Sundance Resources has signed the Nabeba mining convention with the government of the Republic of Congo.
The signing follows the issue of the mining permit, which was approved in December 2012, and outlines the fiscal and legal terms and conditions that Sundance has to satisfy for the development and management of the 35-million-tonne-a-year Nabeba iron-ore project.
Sundance MD Giulio Casello said on Friday that the signing of the convention was the culmination of the strong support given to the project by the Congo-Brazzaville government, since the company started exploration at Nabeba in 2010.
“In just four years we have achieved extraordinary success in the Republic of Congo, with the Nabeba deposit now boasting a significant high-grade hematite reserve, as well as substantial itabirite resources. This world-class inventory will underpin a successful mining operation for many years, generating substantial economic benefits, including employment opportunities for the Congo people.”
Under the key terms of the convention, Sundance would have a 25-year operating licence, effective from the publication of the mining permit decree, and which was renewable for successive terms of up to 15 years, depending on the remaining reserves.
The company would also be given a five-year corporate tax holiday following the start of production, after which corporate tax would be levelled at a rate of 7.5% for five years, and 15% thereafter.
A mining royalty equal to 3% of the mine gate value of all the extracted ore would also be applied. Furthermore, the state government would take a 10% interest in Sundance subsidiary Congo Iron SA, which would be non-dilutory during the term of the convention.
Furthermore, there would be no fees, levies or taxes charged on the export of iron-ore from the mine, and there would be exemptions from import duties and taxes on plant and equipment imported temporarily for project construction, and limited import duties and taxes on other mining equipment and consumables throughout the production phase.
Congo Iron SA would make yearly contributions to a fund established to promote the economic, social and cultural development of local communities, which would be impacted by the Nabeba mine.
The Nabeba deposit would underpin Stage 1 of the project development, which was a 35-million-tonne–a-year direct shipping ore operation, which would run for a minimum of ten years.
Casello said that the signing of the convention meant that Sundance had taken another significant step towards finalising the preconditions for financing and the start of construction.
By Esmarie Swanepeol

Friday, 15 August 2014

PWC: Only 54% of oil and gas staff think fraud programmes work

A total 91% of respondents to PricewaterhouseCooper’s (PWC) latest Africa oil and gas review indicated that their companies have anti-fraud and anti-corruption programmes in place. However, of these, On the brink of a boom notes that only 54% believe the programme is effective at preventing or detecting fraud and corruption.

Meanwhile, 6% of respondents said their anti-fraud and anti-corruption programmes were futile – the same levels as PWC’s 2012 research. More worrying is that 9% of the companies indicated that they had no programmes in place at all.

Oil and gas to boost Nigerian growth

Since the oil and gas sector is expected to grow by 2,3% per year at best, its success is still vital to the Nigerian economy, notes a report by McKinsey Global Institute. With the right reforms, Nigeria’s renewal: Delivering inclusive growth in Africa’s largest economy reports that liquids production could increase from 2.35 million barrels a day on average to a new high of 3.13 million barrels a day by 2030, adding US$22-billion dollars to GDP by 2030.

Natural gas output could grow by as much as 6% per year, adding US$13 billion dollars to GDP by 2030. In total, the report says that the oil and gas sector has the potential to contribute US$108 billion dollars per year by 2030, up from US$73 billion dollars in 2013. But, this assumes the sector overcomes obstacles such as security and can attract fresh investment.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Wood Group Ghana signs local engineering company on as a service provider

Hydra Offshore has signed a two-year contract to provide local engineering support to Wood Group Ghana (WG Ghana) to provide subsea engineering services for work in Ghanaian waters. The contract follows the initial Memorandum of Understanding signed by WG Ghana and Hydra Offshore in December 2013. This was for Hydra Offshore to partner the group to deliver services to the Ghanaian oil and gas industry.

Hydra Offshore will initially second engineers through WG Ghana into Wood Group Kenny (WGK), which was awarded an engineering services contract earlier this month by Tullow Ghana.

WGK will support Tullow Ghana and its partners through the execution phase of the Ten project offshore. WGK will provide Tullow Ghana with project engineering resources, specialist technical support and technical assurance services across the subsea, umbilical, risers, flowlines implementation work scope through to first oil, scheduled for 2016.

Zambian substantial African contract wrapped up

Marthinusen & Coutts recently completed installing four mill motors at an undisclosed copper mine in north-west Zambia. The massive electric motors, with diameters of 40 and 28 foot and with each stator quadrant weighing about 100t, are the largest the company has installed to date and probably the biggest in Africa.

Marthinusen & Coutts’ scope of work comprised installing stator quadrant windings on the four mill motors, which were manufactured by Siemens. The four motors are gearless mill drives and include two 26 MW ball mill motors and two 28 MW semi-autogenous grinding mill motors.  Among the challenges here were the remoteness of the mine, about 400km north-east of Kitwe, and working in a heavy rainy season while also trying to meet an incredibly tight deadline.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

CAMAC Energy strikes oil in Nigeria

CAMAC Energy’s report successful preliminary results at its Oyo field development well offshore Nigeria in OML 120. The Oyo-8 well started drilling on June 15 this year and has both a vertical and a horizontal section. The vertical section was designed to test for additional hydrocarbons in the previously undrilled Eastern fault block of the Oyo field.

Oyo-8 was drilled to a total depth of 1,847m, and successfully encountered four new oil and gas reservoirs with total gross hydrocarbon thickness of 3m based on results from the logging-while-drilling data, reservoir pressure measurement and reservoir fluid sampling.

The well will now be completed horizontally as a producing well in the Pliocene formation of the Central Oyo field. Oyo-7, which was successfully drilled in October 2013, will also be completed horizontally in the Pliocene formation of the Central Oyo field.

Tanzanian firm becomes first publicly owned oil & gas group in East Africa

Tanzania-based energy group Swala Oil & Gas has listed on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE), becoming the first publicly owned oil and gas company in East Africa.

The company is the twentieth to list on the DSE and the second to list under the Enterprise Growth Market (EGM), an equity market specifically intended for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups.

The company listed on the EGM with 99-million shares after a successful initial public offering (IPO), which raised TZS6.65-billion.

The IPO was oversubscribed by nearly four-million shares and raised nearly TSZ2-billion more than the maximum subscription of TZS4.8-billion.

Former Tanzanian President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, who officiated the listing event, said Swala’s oversubscription indicated an investment appetite among Tanzanians and a growing confidence in the national bourse.

DSE CEO Moremi Marwa added that the EGM was aimed at providing SMEs access to the capital market.

“Listing on the DSE comes with transparency, good corporate practices and proper disclosures. Swala has made the right decision to join the family of companies aiming at being open and transparent to their shareholders, the public and the world at large,” he commented.
Swala chairperson Ernest Massawe noted that the listing was a step closer to the company realising its ambition of achieving a successful venture based on a public-private partnership.

“We are now ready to start our 2014 seismic programme and we look forward to fruitful results. I am confident that Swala, as a public company, will be able to capitalise on its achievements to date and continue to deliver for all its stakeholders,” he maintained.

By Natalie Greve

Smelting expansion on Zambia’s cards

The capacity of Zambia’s existing three copper smelters is insufficient to process the increased volumes of concentrate produced by the country’s copper mines, even with a new 1,2 million tonne per annum smelter comes on line.

Canadian-based mining company First Quantum Minerals’ Kansanshi copper mine, in the north-west province of Zambia, has accumulated stockpiles of more than 200 000 tonnes of copper concentrate, worth about US$ 350-million dollars, which will be reduced only when the new smelter at Kansanshi starts operating later this year.

According to First Quantum CEO Matt Pascal, it is the largest single copper smelter ever built. “Even once the smelter is commissioned later this year and goes into full production during the next couple of years, there will still be too much concentrate in Zambia for the smelting capacity. As a result a new smelter expansion project is already on the cards,” he says.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Ebola: Mining companies affected and urged to ready pandemic contigency strategies

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the spread of Ebola in West Africa an international health emergency. According to BBC News, WHO officials said a coordinated international response was essential to stop and reverse the spread of the virus. Although the recommendations stop short of international flight and trade restrictions, they have symbolic significance. The measures are designed to ‘galvanise the attention of leaders of countries at a top level,’ says director-general Dr Margaret Chan. Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s head of health security, said that with the right steps and measures to deal with infected people, Ebola’s spread could be stopped.

The Ebola out-break should act as a timely reminder for companies to ensure they have pandemic strategies in place as part of their business continuity management plans. Tracey Linnell, GM: Advisory Services at ContinuitySA is quoted in ITWeb as saying: ‘Companies need to look at the current Ebola outbreak and what risks it poses to them and their employees, and put protocols in place now At the same time, they should make sure their overall approach to pandemics is in place.’ Linnell says that companies whose people travel into the region or that have business relationships with it need to be sure they are educating staff about symptoms and are monitoring the health of at-risk employees. They also need to have a plan for getting employees out of countries they might be visiting if borders are closed. Linnell says that companies that documented pandemic strategies for the SARS scare in 2003 could use them as the basis for an Ebola strategy. Companies need to have a comprehensive strategy in place for educating staff about the risks posed by Ebola, and inform them about the emergency procedures put in place should they show any symptoms.

Contractors at ArcelorMittal SA’s iron ore mine in Liberia are evacuating the country and other miners are sending staff home to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, reports Reuters Health. Mining companies in West Africa are acting swiftly to keep Ebola at bay, screening employees and restricting access to remote mining camps while keeping production of iron ore and gold ticking. A prolonged outbreak, however, will threaten mineral production in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea if essential supplies are disrupted and employees stay away from work too long. Or worse: should a miner or family member contract the virus. ‘I think everyone is mindful that it's something that has the potential to impact businesses,’ Mark Bristow, CEO of Randgold Resources, which mines gold in Mali, across the border from Guinea, is quoted as saying. Though it has no mines in countries affected thus far, Randgold is among several miners in West Africa to have launched preventive measures against the Ebola outbreak.

Minerals group Sierra Rutile has begun screening its workers for early signs of Ebola, put travel restrictions in place and limited access to its operations in West Africa. Engineering News reports that the company, which mines rutile in south-west Sierra Leone, said the measures were precautionary and designed to reduce any risk to its employees, contractors and visitors. There have been no reported or suspected cases of Ebola to date at Sierra Rutile’s operations and production has not been disrupted as a result of the outbreak. The company said it had contingency plans should the situation worsen.

DR Congo: Kibali focuses on gold recovery rates

The focus of Rangold Resource’s Kibali gold mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is on ensuring  the metallurgical plant achieves its designed throughput and recovery rates.

Randgold’s CEO Mark Bristow recently told media the secondary sulphide plant had been commissioned and optimised, and the Nzoro hydropower facility was completed, with the first two turbines running and the remaining two expected to come on line in the third quarter.“While open pit mining is proceeding as planned, development of the underground mine is progressing well, and the first ore has been accessed slightly ahead of schedule,” Bristow says.

Randgold is the developer and operator of the project, which it owns in partnership with AngloGold Ashanti and the Congolese parastatal Sokimo. Bristow says that despite challenges the mine remains on track to deliver 550 000 ounces of gold forecasted for 2014.

Nigeria, US Sign MoU To Build US$2.5bn Power Plant

At least 15,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity is expected to be added to the national grid following an agreement signed between Nigeria and Global Edison Corporation for the construction of a US$2.5 billion gas-powered plant.
The plant to be located in Anambra State is part a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between Nigeria and the United States (US) president’s, Power Africa Initiative.
The US president, Barack Obama, last year unveiled the Power Africa Initiative which aims to add at least 10,000MW of electricity to selected African countries. Nigeria is among the six countries selected to benefit from the initiative.
The MoU which would outline the roles to be played by Nigeria and the US was signed yesterday in Abuja by the US ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, and the minister of power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, on behalf of both countries.
Also to be achieved through the MoU is a 70MW solar manufacturing plant to be built in Nigeria.
During the signing ceremony, Entwistle explained that the initiative is about transforming the lives of Africans through increased job opportunities to be created from better electricity supply.
He further stated that the Power Africa “supports the strengthening of the energy sector through credit enhancement, grants, technical assistance and investment promotion efforts.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Zest Energy to commission Diesel Power Plant in Zambia

Zest Energy is moving towards commissioning its first reference site for diesel power generation in Zambia. The order was placed by Mopani Copper Mines in August 2013 and calls for the supply and installation of a 12 MVA diesel power plant.

The scope of this project comprises the supply of six Perkins 4016 TAG2 diesel engines and 400 V alternators, complete with spare parts for operations and maintenance, six 2 250 kVA dry type 400V/11 kV step-up transformers, 11 kV switchgear for the integration of generators from the power plant, all equipment needed for the generator plant control room including synchronisation and protection systems and all cabling within the mine’s generator plant building.

Alastair Gerrard, Zest Energy projects manager, says all equipment being supplied will be installed in a newly built plant building. Three complete synchronisation panels are also being supplied for integration of the local energy utility Copperbelt Energy Corporation’s 11 kV incomers. The system will have the additional functionality to perform at peak.

Eritrean Mining - Phased start-up to reduce initial capital costs

The recent signing of the shareholder agreement between Toronto-listed Sunridge Gold and the Eritrean National Mining Corporation has accelerated activities on the Asmara copper- zinc-gold project and the mine is on track to start production in 2015. The Asmara project is to be held and operated by the Asmara Mining Share Company of which Sunridge has a 60% share and Enamco 40%.

A three-phase start-up design will reduce initial capital costs. During phase 1A, the high-grade copper direct shipping ore (DSO) will be mined from the Debarwa deposit by open-pit methods, crushed and loaded into containers and transported 120km to Massawa for shipping and sale to a smelter.

To access the DSO zone found about 30m from surface, the enriched gold oxide cap at the surface will be mined, and this material, along with the similar gold cap from Emba Derho will make up Phase 1B, which is the open-pit mining of the gold caps from both deposits with recovery of the gold by heap-leaching methods. Providing that the mining licence is issued as expected in late 2014 or early 2015, and funding is in place, phase 1 production should start in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Stockport Exploration exporing in Western Kenya

A Canadian firm, Stockport Exploration, is prospecting for gold in Western Kenya. The firm will be working with a service provider to procure equipment and provide managerial services, process tailings and other services. Extraction is expected to start as soon as analysis is completed; it is expected that revenue from Stockport’s operations will only be realized towards the end of the year. Stockport joins Red Rock Resources (in Migori) and African Queen Mines (in Homa Bay and Siaya) who have been operating in the region.

Migori County is also rich in copper, which has a selling price of US$700/ton. Though Kenyan companies only have exploration licences, there was a recent attempt to illegally export copper worth Kshs.120m that would have led to a huge loss in government revenue. This highlighted the need to have high-level equipment such as scanners at the Kenya Ports Authority to enable it to curtail cases of illegal exports such as this. 

Source: ICES Kenya 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Drilling company strikes US 170-million dollar project

Sonangol Pesquisa e Producao SA, the research and exploration unit of Angolan state-oil company Sonangol SA, has awarded Aberdeen-based drilling contractor KCA Deutag a US$170-milion dollar contract. 

The project is to supply the Ben Rinnes jack-up rig in Angola.  The two-year agreement, which comes with a two-year extension option, will see KCA Deutag’s offshore division provide drilling and completion services, in various offshore locations in Angola. The contract will employ about 100 people, most of whom will be Angolan nationals.

The Ben Rinnes is one of two jack-ups in KCA Deutag’s rig fleet. The rig has been operating in Gabon since January 2013, where it completed a multi-well drilling programme. KCA Deutag has been operating in Angola since 2005, where it manages three platform drilling rigs.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Africa trades billions in secret crude oil deals, experts warn

Sub-Saharan Africa’s top 10 oil-producing countries have sold more than US$254 billion in crude through state-owned oil companies over the past three years without publicly accounting for the money.

Governments in sub-Saharan Africa are selling crude petroleum in shadowy deals worth hundreds of billions of dollars, according to a new report.

The lack of transparency over staggering amounts of oil revenues is causing concern in countries that have weak budgetary oversight and long track records of corruption, Natural Resource Governance Institute said.

Its research found that sub-Saharan Africa’s top 10 oil-producing countries have sold more than US$254 billion  in crude through state-owned oil companies over the past three years without publicly accounting for the money. This is equivalent to 56 per cent of their combined government revenues, the institute said in its ‘Big Spenders’ report released on Monday.

Among the biggest purchasers were mega Swiss commodity traders, including Glencore, Arcadia and Trafigura, which snapped up one-quarter of the sales between 2011 and 2013, the institute said. It called for new regulations for nationally owned oil companies and big trading firms to disclose their deals.

The sales to Swiss traders were worth an estimated US$55 billion — more than twice as much money as these 10 countries — Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d‘Ivoire, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria and South Sudan — received in net foreign aid, it said.

“The payments made by Swiss companies generate a significant portion of public revenues in some of the world’s poorest countries, and are subject to governance risks as they take place in environments of weak institutions and widespread corruption,” it said.

Kenya is bracing for the launch of commercial oil production within the next few years. The Government has shown little interest in transparency with contracts signed with oil prospecting firms remaining shrouded in secrecy. There are fears this secrecy may continue into sales of oil and spending of resource wealth in coming years.

The push from Natural Resource Governance Institute is part of its efforts to expand the transparency rules for oil, gas and mining as it presses governments to account for how they spend their resource wealth. Currently, more than one billion people live in dire poverty in resource-rich countries.

So far global regulations for resource extraction payments have focused on publicly traded companies. They do not cover all aspects of agreements with a government, including oil provided to a national company for future sale.Switzerland is considering new regulations on extractives disclosure for natural resource companies, but the regulations are modeled after similar rules in the European Union and the United States and would not cover commodity trading firms and their deals with national oil companies.

“Switzerland should accept its responsibility as the world’s leading commodity trading hub and pass regulation that requires Swiss companies producing or trading in natural resources to disclose all payments made to government and state-owned companies, including payments associated with trading activities,” the report said.

The difficulty in compiling the data, which came from media reports, government and company publications and market intelligence, exemplifies the need for transparency, it said.

Among the report’s findings:

1.      Sales by national oil companies account for more than half of government revenues in the Republic of Congo, Angola, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea.

2.      Glencore, a top global commodity trader, buys all of Chad’s oil, and its payments in 2013 were equal to 16 per cent of the government’s revenue, yet the terms of the oil sales are not publicly disclosed. It struck the deal for exclusive rights without a competitive tender after investing US$300 million in two oilfields there.

3.      In Nigeria, Swiss companies bought $37 billion over three years, equal to 18 per cent of government revenues and more than one-third of its oil. A former central bank governor for Nigeria has alleged that US$20 billion has gone missing in Nigerian oil revenues.

4.      Nigeria awards term contracts to a list of companies that are eligible to buy oil throughout the year, but the report says it is a politicised process “depending on their relationship with the officials in charge and influence of their local contacts or sponsors.”

Source: Reuters.

New Enhanced Stoves launched in Kenya

New wood and charcoal cookstoves with high levels of fuel efficiency and significantly reduced emissions have been launched into the market in Kenya. The stoves have the potential to transform cooking practices in Kenya. What makes these stoves unique is that they are made by local Kenyan businesses and they retail at a price which is well below the cost of imported high efficiency stoves.

GVEP has been working for the past year with a group of experienced local stove makers to develop an improved design with much higher performance at a price consumers can afford. Manufacturing of the stoves is within the capabilities of the local businesses. The technical redesign work was carried out by Kenya Stove Works and prototypes tested with users and in the lab. The designs went through several iterations until the best balance between user acceptability and efficiency had been struck. Funding support came from the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

Riumba-ini Energy Saving Stoves is one of ten companies making the new stove. They are based in Kiria, Muranga County, in Central Province north of Nairobi. The business has been operating since 1998 and has large well organised workshops making and assembling the stove components. They recently serviced a large order from UNHCR. Charity Gatchanja who supports her husband Kenneth in the running of the operation is very pleased with the stove. ‘It is like cooking with gas’ she said. ‘It is very quick to cook.’

The stoves incorporate a metal cylinder which sits above the fire chamber and which increases the efficiency of combustion. James Gatima, the GVEP technical advisor on the project explains: ‘In traditional stoves the gasses given off in burning are cooled by the mass of clay which lines the stove and so are not burned fully. So you get smoke. In the improved stove the metal cylinder keeps the gasses away from the thermal lining, keeping the temperature high and ensuring almost complete combustion.’

The stoves are made using heavier gauge metal than the typical locally made stove. This makes them durable. The fire chamber cylinder will need replacing every few years but the rest of the stove could last ten years if looked after.

Grace Nyambura in the nearby community of Ngaru is one of the first customers to experience the stove. She is very enthusiastic about the fuel savings and lack of smoke. ‘With just one piece of wood I cooked dinner last night, breakfast and lunch and there is still some wood left,’ she said. Before buying the stove she cooked on an open three stone fire. Four pieces of wood cost 50 Ksh and used to last just one day. Now the same amount of wood lasts three days. Grace’s kitchen is a hut in the compound, separated from the house because of the smoke which used to come from the fire. ‘With the new stove I can even cook in the house,’ she said. ‘There is no smoke.’

Mary Njeri, one of her neighbours who also bought the stove, agrees that it is high quality. She says that her daughter was unable to help with cooking before because of the smoke which made her eyes run. With the new stove she is able to cook without any problem. ‘It is very fast, and the heat remains in the stove,’ she said. ‘We are very, very happy.’

All of the companies making the stove are large by Kenyan stove making standards. GVEP deliberately sought out businesses with the capability of manufacturing the new stoves in significant volumes and with the distribution channels in place to get the product to market. Some of the businesses GVEP worked with under an earlier programme, helping them grow from small beginnings to the current scale of production.

But even these larger local businesses still use manual processes. The metal cladding and the pot rests are cut and shaped by hand which is slow and arduous. The heavier gauge metals used in the enhanced stoves presents a challenge. GVEP has been working with the businesses to find suitable locally available machinery which could be used for cutting and shaping metal. Metal cutters driven by compressed air and metal folding equipment has been identified. The businesses will be assisted to purchase equipment with funds from the Global Alliance. What were once small artisan workshops are being transformed into small, highly organised factories.

Companies which import stoves made abroad generally face a challenge with ‘last mile distribution’. By working with an existing local value chain GVEP hopes to be able to circumvent these problems. The stove manufacturers already have established relationships with various wholesale customers, retail outlets and sell directly themselves at local markets. The new stoves are already in demand. At 2500 Kshs the stove is not cheap but the price is around half what someone might pay for an imported Envirofit stove.

Production is now underway not just in Central Kenya but in Kisumu in the west of the country. The next phase of the project is tooling up the businesses to improve efficiency of production, and a big marketing push to help the new stove find a market.

Final results of emissions tests are still awaited but will be published in due course.

Posted by Meghan Smith

Reprocessing boosts diamond yield in Sierra Leone

The reprocessing of bulk sample tailings at London-listed Stellar Diamonds’ Tongo kimberlite dyke project in Sierra Leone, has yielded additional diamonds and increased the average grade to 155 carats per hundred tonnes (cpht). 

According to CEO Karl Smithson, the grade compares favorably with the previously calculated resource grade of 120cpht and should impact positively on project economics as well as the resource size, which is independently estimated at 1,1 million carats (JORC-compliant).“The final bulk sample to complete the 1 000 carat parcel is currently being extracted and processed and we expect the final grade and value data to be available in August,” says Smithson.

African refining costs to soar in 2014

Africa will suffer significantly higher production costs for its own new grass-root refinery projects, planned in Nigeria, Angola and Gabon, according to GlobalData. These countries have a lack of highly skilled workforces and minimal infrastructure, meaning that most if not all equipment, materials and labour needs to be imported.

Carmine Rositano, GlobalData’s managing analyst covering downstream oil and gas, says, “Further costs for this region will also result from the financial and geopolitical risks associated with the construction of onshore refining facilities in African countries, such as Algeria and Uganda. These factors will push Africa’s refining capital expenditure to almost US$28-billion dollars  by the end of 2020.”

The global refining capital expenditure is forecast to reach about US333-billion dollars between 2014 and 2020, representing an annual average of almost USD48 billion dollars and 1,6-million barrels a  day.

Israeli billionaire finds 3 billion barrel oil reserve in DR Congo

An oil company owned by Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler said on Thursday it had discovered reserves of around 3 billion barrels in the Democratic Republic of Congo, an amount similar to the proven reserves of oil producers Britain and South Sudan.
The crude was discovered around Lake Albert on Congo's eastern border with Uganda, Oil of DR Congo said in a statement.
An analysis of seismic survey data "indicates around 3 billion barrels of oil in place", it said.
"These are very positive results from our extensive seismic campaign," said Giuseppe Ciccarelli, Oil of DR Congo's CEO. "We continue to believe the project has the potential to provide significant revenues and multiple other benefits to the people of (Congo)."
The nearby Ugandan blocks are estimated to hold a similar amount of oil and are being developed by British company Tullow, France's Total and China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC).
Oil of DRCongo said it now plans to prepare for the drilling of two exploration wells on the site by building infrastructure and relocating local communities.
Resource-rich Congo produces just 25,000 barrels of oil per day from onshore and offshore fields in western coastal areas and is seeking to increase production dramatically to boost growth and relieve poverty.

Oil made up just 1.7 percent of Congo's gross domestic product in 2012, according to the International Monetary Fund. Oil of DRCongo said production of 50,000 barrels per day at Lake Albert would expand Congo's economy by 25 percent.
But industry sources point to the difficulty of exporting the oil from eastern Congo - a region hundreds of kilometres from export points on the shores of the Indian and Atlantic oceans.
Oil of DR Congo operates blocks one and two at Lake Albert on behalf of Foxwhelp and Caprikat, both subsidiaries of Gertler’s Netherlands-based company Fleurette which has several interests in Congo’s mining sector.
Campaign groups such as Global Witness say Gertler, an influential figure in Congo with close ties to President Joseph Kabila’s government, received concessions at low prices before selling them on for large profits, particularly in a series of mining deals between 2010 and 2012.
In January, Reuters revealed that Gertler had sold one of his Congo-based oil companies, Nessergy Ltd, to the government for US$150 million - 300 times the amount paid for the oil rights.
Gertler, who has joint Israeli and Congolese citizenship and says his firm has invested more than US$7 billion in the local economy, vigorously denies receiving favourable deals at knockdown prices.
A spokesman said at the time that the Nessergy rights had dramatically increased in value since they were obtained in 2006, partly due to the discovery of significant nearby oilfields.
By Peter Jones
Source: Reuters