Tag Archive

Botswana’s BCL to be sold off piecemeal after sale talks fail

Comments (0) Latest Updates from Reuters

GABORONE (Reuters) – Collapsed state-owned Botswanan copper and nickel producer BCL Limited will be sold off piecemeal after the company failed to find a buyer, its liquidator said on Friday.

BCL was placed under provisional liquidation in October after the government said it could not afford the 7 billion pula ($685 million) needed to keep the company running.

“Our first priority is to still try and sell BCL as a going concern, but if that fails we can now sell the assets, which include the smelter and the mine shafts, separately,” liquidator Nigel Dixon-Warren of KMPG told Reuters.

Botswana’s oldest and biggest copper mine ran into trouble because of low commodity prices, diminishing ore grades and the ever deeper shafts needed to extract its resources.

BCL owed creditors about one billion pula when it was placed under provisional liquidiation.

Dixon-Warren said potential buyers had been put off by a $271 million lawsuit filed by Norilsk Nickel against BCL over its botched deal to buy a 50 percent stake in a South African nickel mine from the Russian company.

“We have had some strong interest from many buyers, but the issue of the Norilsk lawsuit has been complicating matters,” Dixon-Warren said.

He also said BCL’s Tati Nickel mine, which it bought from Norilsk, had attracted strong interest from potential suitors.

Botswana’s high court has extended the provisional liquidation of Tati by six months to allow a deal with an unspecified suitor to be concluded, Dixon-Warren said.

($1 = 10.2145 pulas)


(Writing by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; editing by David Clarke)

Read more

Congo copper output falls 14% in H1 on lower prices

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

KINSHASA (Reuters) – Copper output in Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa’s top producer, fell 14 percent in the first half of 2016 to 466,250 tonnes as a global price slump led some mines to suspend production, the central bank said on Tuesday.

The decline is hammering the economy of the country, which derives about 95 percent of its export earnings from extractive industries.

In June, the government slashed its budget by 22 percent in response to low commodity revenues.

Congo, among the world’s top copper producers, produced 990,000 tonnes of the metal in 2015, down from 1.03 million tonnes the year before.

In a weekly report, the central bank also said production of cobalt, the metal used in lithium-ion batteries and of which Congo is the world’s leading producer, slid by 13 percent to 35,267 tonnes over the same period.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange lost 25 percent of its value in 2015 and has recovered only slightly this year, while cobalt prices are also down about 14 percent from this time last year.

Glencore’s Katanga unit, one of the country’s largest copper and cobalt producers, announced an 18-month suspension of operations last September and thousands of jobs have been lost in the sector since then as companies cut costs.


(Reporting by Aaron Ross; editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Jason Neely)

Read more

Zambia’s H1 copper output rises 8%

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

LUSAKA (Reuters) – Zambia’s copper production rose by 8 percent to 368,371 tonnes in the first six months of this year from 340,510 tonnes in the same period last year, the country’s chamber of mines said on Tuesday.

Full-year copper production in Africa’s second-biggest copper producer was expected to rise by 5.4 percent to 750,000 tonnes this year from the 711,515 tonnes produced last year, the chamber said in a statement.


(Reporting by Chris Mfula; Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Louise Heavens)

Read more

Zambia’s Lungu says won’t take over struggling mines

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

LUSAKA (Reuters) – Zambia does not plan to take over mines that have shed jobs after a sharp fall in global copper prices, President Edgar Lungu said on Thursday, backtracking from a warning earlier this month that the state would take over such mines.

Lungu said the economy would grow at a slower pace than previously estimated due to the struggling mining industry and electricity shortages, but that government would implement austerity measures to cope with the decline.

“The government can run the mines but we have no intention to take over the mines,” Lungu said, adding that government tried its best to keep the job losses to a minimum and that the troubles in the sector would lower economic growth.

On the job losses in the mines, Lungu said during a speech from his office that the government had tried its best to keep the job losses to the barest minimum.

“We would have lost all the jobs if we insisted on no job losses. The mines have told us why these jobs are being lost. The challenges in the mining sector are bound to continue. The government can run the mines but we have no intention to take over the mines,” he said.

Lungu earlier this month warned that he would not allow Glencore’s local unit to lay off workers.

The company has been cutting its copper output to support flagging global prices.

Vedanta Resources’ Zambian unit Konkola Copper Mines KCM) said it would mothball its loss making Nchanga underground mine by the end of the month.


(Reporting by Chris Mfula; Writing by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by James Macharia)

Read more

Glencore’s Zambia copper mining unit lays off 4,300 workers: company and union sources

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

LUSAKA (Reuters) – Glencore’s Zambian unit has laid off 4,300 workers, union and company sources said on Tuesday, as the mining and trading company deepens cuts in copper output to support flagging prices.

“The company started giving out the letters of redundancy yesterday and has continued with the exercise today,” one union official said, referring to Glencore unit Mopani Copper Mines.

The union source said around 5,000 employees working for contractors would also lose their jobs as Mopani would only maintain two contractors specialized in the sinking of shafts.

Mopani had said in a letter dated October 21 giving notice of redundancy to mine unions that the firm was still losing millions of dollars and had to take action to secure its long term viability.

Mining companies are under Zambian law required to labour unions at least one month’s notice before laying off employees.

Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu said earlier this month he would not allow Glencore’s unit to lay off workers.

Mopani was expected to pay the 4,300 workers a total of $33 million, two company sources with knowledge of the retrenchment plan told Reuters.

Swiss-based Glencore has pledged to cut its net debt to $20 billion by the end of 2016 to regain the trust of investors after its shares tumbled to record lows this year.


(Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by James Macharia)

Read more

Congo cuts growth forecast to 7.7% as copper output falls

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

KINSHASA (Reuters) – Democratic Republic of Congo lowered its 2015 economic growth forecast to 7.7 percent from an earlier prediction of 8.4 percent due to weak commodity prices and lower mining output, the prime minister’s office said in a statement on Monday.

The economy of Africa’s largest copper producer grew by 9.5 percent in 2014, according to the government, which had predicted growth of 10.3 percent for 2015 in May.

But demand has been hurt by falling demand for minerals, particularly in top industrial metals consumer China. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange hit a fresh 6-1/2 year low on Monday at $4,444 a tonne before recovering slightly to $4,500.

Congo’s economy is heavily dependent on the export of raw minerals. Copper and cobalt exports alone accounted for 79 percent of the value of Congo’s exports in the first half of 2015, according to the Central Bank.

In another blow, Swiss-based trading house Glencore began an 18-month suspension of copper and cobalt production at its Katanga Mining unit in the country’s southeast in September.

The mine produced about 15 percent of Congo’s total copper output prior to its suspension. The country’s chamber of mines estimates that the production freeze combined with power shortages will cause output of the metal to fall from 1.03 million tonnes in 2014 to about 980,000 tonnes this year.

Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo said last month that the mine’s suspension would cost the government about $215 million in tax revenues next year.

The statement from Matata Ponyo’s office on Monday promised that the government would study measures to diversify the economy, without elaborating further.


(Reporting By Aaron Ross; Editing by Dominic Evans)


Read more

Electricity shortage, low copper prices hit Zambian mines

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

LUSAKA (Reuters) – An electricity shortage and weaker copper prices have put pressure on Zambia’s mining industry, threatening output, jobs and economic growth in Africa’s No. 2 producer of the metal.

The power problems and copper price slide have driven the kwacha currency to record lows amid a selloff in commodity-linked currencies as key consumer China’s economy has slowed, renewing pressure on Zambia to diversify its economy.

Glencore, Vedanta Resources Plc and China’s NFC Africa and CNMC Luanshya Copper Mine have said they will shut down some operations due to the harsh business environment.

“This is serious, it could bring our economy to its knees,” independent analyst Maambo Hamaundu said.

Zambia’s power generation capacity stands at 2,200 megawatts (MW), with most of the electricity produced from hydropower, but supply is often erratic.

State power utility Zesco Ltd, which generates the bulk of the electricity, said last week it would deepen power cuts after water levels at its largest hydropower station dropped following a drought.

President Edgar Lungu said on Friday that Zambia should reduce its overall imports of goods to tackle the country’s trade imbalance, but it should import more power to address the shortages.

The Zambian government on Tuesday started importing 148 MW of power from a ship docked off the coast of Mozambique.

“CEC (Copperbelt Energy Corporation) has communicated to the mines, the need for them to begin accessing imported power,” Chama Nsabika-Kalima, spokesperson for CEC, the largest supplier of power to Zambia’s copper mines, said.

Zambia is the world’s No. 8 copper producer. The closure of mines and smelters is likely to hit its output, which was projected to increase to 916,767 tonnes by 2018 from 741,916 tonnes in 2015, largely on account of increased output at the Kansanshi mine owned by Canada’s First Quantum Minerals, according to government data.

The slide in global copper prices, to six-year lows last month, has already prompted the government to slash its economic growth forecast for this year to 5 percent, from an initial 7 percent, and the deepening power crisis and curbs to copper production risk a further slowdown, analysts say.

Copper production accounts for 11 percent of Zambia’s gross domestic product.

Labour unions are worried about the impending job cuts, while the government has asked mining companies to consult with the ministry of labour before shutting down operations.

“We started importing electricity and they have the option to buy that power and continue with the operations,” the chief government spokesman, Chishimba Kambwili, said.

The Zambia Chamber of Mines, an industry body, said it was talking to the government over the problems facing the industry.

“We understand the severity of the situation. We want to work with the government to find a long-term solution to this problem,” the chamber’s chief executive, Maureen Dlamini, told Reuters.

By Chris Mfula (Reuters)

Read more