Ressources Magazine (en)

AngloGold Ashanti in Olympic form

For gold giant AngloGold Ashanti, which this month successfully completed the sale of its ultimate South African mining assets, all signals are green: Supported by rising gold prices, the group announced on Friday that it had more than doubled its free cash flow in 2019, bringing it to $448 million compared to $217 million in the previous year. In addition to strong yellow metal prices, AngloGold also owes this solid performance to the highly profitable operations of its mine in Kibali, DRC, a site jointly owned with Barrick Gold and the Congolese state-owned Kilo-Moto company.

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Malawi expects good maize harvests in 2020

After a difficult year in 2019, marked by cyclone Idai which destroyed more than 70 000 hectares of maize crops, production prospects for this cereal look much better in 2020. In a press release published on Thursday, February 20, the Ministry of Agriculture indicated that it expects the harvest to increase by 8.8%, thanks in particular to the abundant and well-distributed rains observed between November and January, the period favourable to crop growth. This is good news for this small southern African country, heavily dependent on agriculture (80% of the working population and two-thirds of export earnings) and among the poorest in the world ($370 per capita GDP).

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In the wake of the coronavirus, the IMF lowers its growth forecast for Nigeria

IMF representatives, on a mission to Nigeria from 29 January to 12 February, confirmed that the coronavirus epidemic in China will affect global oil demand and thus the growth of Africa’s leading economic power, which is heavily dependent on black gold exports. In fact, oil prices fell below $57 a barrel on Tuesday, down 11% since the beginning of the year. As a result, the international financial institution lowered, at the beginning of the week, its growth forecasts for Nigeria to 2% this year against 2.5% previously expected.

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The Beninese government revises (again…) the price of cashew nuts downwards.

At the end of the last Council of Ministers, held on Wednesday 19 February, the Beninese government has decided to set the purchase price of a kilogram of cashew nuts at 325 CFA francs ($0.53) during the 2019-2020 season, which opens on 19 March. This is a hard blow for farmers in the sector, who are thus suffering – in the wake of the trend in world prices – the second consecutive year-on-year drop in the price after the price dropped from 650 CFA francs/kg to 400 CFA francs/kg between the 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 seasons.

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Polish delegation to Rwanda to explore agricultural opportunities

A group of Polish investors and members of parliament are currently in Rwanda to explore investment opportunities in agriculture, the Kigali-based government daily New Times revealed today. Coming at the invitation of the Rwanda Development Board, the national agency in charge of investment promotion, the delegation includes private operators active in the agri-food sector, such as Jakub Jazdon, founder of the Onix group, which specializes in fruit and vegetable packaging. Quoted by the Rwandan media, the Polish leader confirmed that he wanted to diversify in Africa, and that as such, he was looking in particular for potential Rwandan export products to Poland, including coffee, fruits and spices.

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Angola: Eni, Chevron, BP, Total and Sonangol join forces to launch a new gas processing unit

In Angola, majors ENI, BP, Chevron, Total and the national state-owned company Sonangol have agreed to form a consortium to build and operate a new natural gas processing plant in Soyo, a town in the northern province of Zaire, the country’s main oil-producing area. The project, called the « New Gas Consortium » – with a capacity of 400 million cubic feet per day – is expected to start up at the end of 2020 and should take two years to complete.

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U.S. to invest $2 billion in Angola’s oil industry

The announcement was made Monday by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – who was visiting Angola with a view to strengthening cooperation between the two countries – at a meeting organised by the US-Angola Chamber of Commerce (USACC). The relevant departments of the two governments are therefore expected to meet more frequently in the coming months to implement this initiative. This news is a boon for Angola, which is facing weak production, prices and investment in the sector, which has severely affected government revenues in recent months.

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ENI boosts the electrical power of Congo-B by installing a third turbine at CEC

This new gas turbine, installed by ENI in Côte Matève, increases the capacity of the Congo Power Plant (CEC) – which currently supplies 60% of the energy consumed in the country – from 300 to 500 MW. By increasing the national installed capacity to 650 MW in total – for an overall demand of 600 MW – this generating unit should improve energy supply and reduce load shedding in the country’s two main cities, Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire.

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Niger grants new gold permits

The government of Niger has granted new permits to search for gold in the regions of Agadez and Zinder, it was learned on Monday, February 17. According to information published by the authorities and reported in the local media, the winning bidders are the companies Sidi Amar et fils, the China Africa Mining Products Trading Company (SCPMCA), Manga-Kawar-mines and the Zhong Ying Group company.

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Gabon: Perenco awarded three new offshore contracts

Active since 1992 in Gabon, where it is the largest hydrocarbon producer, the Franco-British group Perenco continues to strengthen its position in the country with the award of three new exploration and production sharing contracts (CEPP). Awarded by the Gabonese government on 14 February and

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Buoyed by iron prices, Kumba Iron Ore posts record results

A major continental player in the production of iron (40 million tonnes in 2019), the South African mining company Kumba Iron Ore – a subsidiary of Anglo American – published on Tuesday solid annual results with a turnover and a profit up by 41% (to 64.3 billion rand, or 4.28 billion dollars) and 77% (28.81 billion rand, or 1.92 billion dollars) respectively. This strong performance was primarily attributed by the group’s management to the good performance of iron prices.

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Zimbawe wants Uganda maize

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa revealed Friday that his country – which faces acute food insecurity – is considering importing maize from Uganda. In order to clarify with the Ugandan authorities the modalities of this new supply channel, a delegation led by the Minister of Agriculture, Perrance Shiri, has in fact already visited Kampala, the Zimbabwean head of state confirmed.

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South Africa: Chris Griffith to step down as head of Anglo American Platinum

After seven years at the helm of Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), the world’s leading platinum producer, Chris Griffith has decided to leave the South African company to « pursue other career opportunities », it was announced in a press release on Monday 17 February, the same day as the publication of the annual results for 2019, which are expected to rise.
Commenting on the announcement, Amplats chairman Norman Mbazima stressed the « outstanding contribution [of Chris Griffith] to improving safety and to the operational and financial recovery of the company », while Mbazima said that the position had been « the culmination of a long and rewarding career with Anglo American » and that he was convinced that now was « the time for the next generation of leaders to take the company forward and add value ». The executive will officially step down at the next shareholders’ meeting on April 16, 2020. The name of his successor, who is expected to be an internal candidate of the group, will be announced in the near future, Amplats management said.

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Burkina Faso: Sanbrado gold mine to start up ahead of schedule

Initiated in May 2019 by Australian mining exploration specialist West African Resources, the Sanbrado gold mine project in Burkina Faso is now well underway. In a press release issued on Thursday, February 13, the mining operator announced the early commissioning of the main crusher, as work has progressed faster than expected. As a result, the mine is expected to begin production in the second quarter of 2020 instead of the third quarter, the company said, which has raised more than $250 million since 2018 to finance the construction of the mine. The gold site is 90% owned by Société des mines de Sanbrado (Somisa), a local subsidiary of West African Resources, with the remaining 10% owned by the Burkinabe government. When the project was launched, feasibility studies estimated that it would generate between $350 and $400 million in revenue for the Burkinabe government over a decade and create 1,200 jobs.

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AngloGold draws a line under the Rainbow Nation by selling off its last assets

Announced in May 2019, the sale of AngloGold Ashanti’s ultimate South African mining assets to Harmony Gold has now been completed. This transaction completes a long process of disengagement from the Rainbow Nation. For AngloGold Ashanti, the world’s third-largest gold producer, this is a turning

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Portugal freezes the assets of Isabel Dos Santos, former president of Sonangol

Since the revelations in mid-January of the « Luanda Leaks », the noose has been tightening around Isabel Dos Santos, daughter of former Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos. According to information leaked by the Portuguese daily Expresso on Tuesday, the Portuguese judicial authorities have, at the request of the Angolan authorities, frozen the businesswoman’s assets in the southern European country. This is yet another hard blow for the former president of Sonangol, the Angolan state-owned oil company, which she managed between 2016 and 2017. At the end of December 2019, the Angolan judiciary had (already) announced the preventive freezing of her assets, while Portugal announced at the same time the opening of a preliminary investigation into the assets held by Isabel Dos Santos in this country of the Iberian Peninsula, former colonial power of Angola.

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South Africa’s Harmony Gold returns to profit

Buoyed by the highest gold price in five years, Harmony Gold, South Africa’s third-largest gold operator, reported solid half-year results on Tuesday with revenues up 19% to 15.477 billion rand ($1.038 billion) for the period ending December 31, 2019. Better still, the company has returned to profit. After recording a loss of 19 million rand ($1.27 million) in the same period last year, the group managed to make a profit of 1.3 billion rand ($89 million) this time. Peter Steenkamp, Harmony’s CEO, while noting the favourable environment of « a higher gold price that continues to drive our financial performance, » renewed his commitment to focus the company’s efforts on what it can control, « namely safety, costs and production.

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DRC : Despondent, Banro wants to sell his Namoya mine as soon as possible

The nagging question of insecurity in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has finally got the better of the ambitions of Canadian gold operator Banro in the region. Company boss Brett Richards confirmed on Friday, February 7, his intention to sell the Namoya gold mine (located in Maniema) « at a bargain-basement price », after repeated attacks by armed rebels forced the mining operator to shut down – again – its operations in September. The leader justified his decision in particular by the lack of effective support from the Congolese authorities to ensure the safety of his staff and assets. This was a major blow to the company, which had started operating the site in 2016, and follows the recent sale of the Twangiza mine, also in the east of the country, to Chinese minority shareholder Baiyin International Investments.

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Faced with rumours of a merger with Freeport-McMoran, Barrick Gold is making a clarification

The emblematic boss of Canada’s Barrick Gold, the world’s second largest gold producer, South Africa’s Mark Bristow denied on Thursday 6 February that he wanted to merge the group he heads with the American company Freeport-McMoran, which is active in the copper sector. Quoted by the news agency Reuters, on the sidelines of the annual conference of Indaba Mining in Cape Town (South Africa), the leader described the current rumours of a merger between Barrick Gold and Freeport-McMoran as « completely false ». However, he confirmed his interest in Freeport’s Grasberg mine in Indonesia, the world’s largest gold mine and second largest copper mine. « People say, ‘Are you interested in Grasberg? I can only be, because it’s a great asset, » he said, reinforcing his earlier statements about the opportunity to expand Barrick’s copper business to take advantage of the expected increase in demand that will result from the growing popularity of electric vehicles.

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Cocoa: child labour in question(s) – Interview with sociologist Rodrigue Koné

Revealed to the general public by the feature film « Slavery, a global investigation » (2000), a British documentary by Brian Woods and Kate Blewett broadcasting (among others) the testimonies of child victims of trafficking in West Africa, forced child labour is now a major issue in

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Trafigura takes full control of Trafigura Zimbabwe

The Swiss commodities trader Trafigura, a 49% shareholder in Trafigura Zimbabwe, confirmed on Tuesday, 4 February that it intends to acquire the majority stake (51%) of its local partner Sakunda Holdings, a Zimbabwean company owned by businessman Kuda Tagwirei, who is reputed to be close to President Emmerson Mnangagwa. « This will provide greater clarity on Trafigura’s activities in the country and an opportunity for more robust financing of Trafigura Zimbabwe, which should improve the security of fuel supply in Zimbabwe, » Trafigura said in its statement. However, the amount of the transaction was not specified. The group also recalled that the transaction was still subject to approval by the Zimbabwean regulator.

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Senegal suspends peanut exports to protect its oil mills from Chinese competition

Faced with the stranglehold of Chinese traders on the groundnut sector and the supply difficulties encountered by local oil mills, the Senegalese authorities have decided to suspend groundnut seed exports until further notice. Present for years in the country’s major groundnut-growing regions (Kaolack, Fatick, Louga,

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Rwandan theiculture in three key points

Published at the beginning of this month, the latest figures for Rwandan tea exports confirm the good health of this sector, which is now the leading agricultural export sector in the country of the Thousand Hills. Ressources offers you an overview of the sector in

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Algeria : NCA Rouiba to join the Castel group soon

Mentioned last November in our columns, the financial difficulties of the agri-food company NCA Rouiba did not leave the Castel group indifferent. Slim Othmani, the chairman of the board of directors of the Algerian fruit juice producer, confirmed that his company will soon come under

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Isabel Dos Santos, the former president of Sonangol accused of "siphoning off the country's coffers".

Regularly cited among Africa’s biggest fortunes, the daughter of the former Angolan head of state is accused by a group of international journalists of having plundered part of the country’s wealth. A case that highlights the often porous nature of the relationship between business and

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Senegal: Australia's FAR raises $300 million to finance its share of the Sangomar oil project

The Australian junior FAR announced on Monday 20 January that it has secured a loan of 300 million dollars to finance its commitments in the offshore Sangomar project, Senegal’s first oil development block. With a 15% stake, the company is present alongside Woodside Energy (35%),

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DRC: Gécamines inaugurates the Deziwa mining site with its Chinese partner

The result of a joint venture between the China Nonferrous Metal Compagny (CNMC, 51%) and the Congolese state-owned mining operator Gécamines (49%), the mining company of Deziwa (Somidez) inaugurated its copper and cobalt refining unit on 15 January, located about 35 km east of the

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Nigerian Lekoil victim of a nearly $200 million scam

After welcoming the conclusion of a loan agreement with the Qatari sovereign wealth fund at the beginning of the month, the Nigerian oil company now claims to be the victim of « an attempted fraud ». The listing of Lekoil shares on the London Stock Exchange was

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Egypt wants its commodity exchange this year

Egypt, a major agricultural and economic power on the continent, is expected to launch its agricultural commodities exchange this year. A project that is constantly being discussed and that could (finally) succeed. The head of the Egyptian Internal Trade Development Authority, Ibrahim Ashmawy, confirmed on

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As 2019 draws to a close, Ressources looks back at the five highlights of African commodity news over the past twelve months To remember the highlights of a given period is to know how to distinguish the essential from the futile in a history in

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