Impala Platinum

Zimbabwe’s beleaguered indigenisation policy has been dealt several big blows in the last few days. Alleged corruption, arguments over deal fees, calls for a parliamentary probe – and to top it all, even president Robert Mugabe criticising the process.

The controversial black empowerment policy, which forces foreign firms to divest 51 per cent of equity to locals, is one of Mugabe and his party, Zanu-PF’s key strategies. But is it falling apart? Read more

It’s been a roller coaster week for platinum prices, which climbed in the middle of the week before sliding back at the close. Supply disruption in Africa is a dominant factor, analysts say, something that is set to continue driving prices. Read more

Shares in Impala Platinum fell by as much as 3.4 per cent on Monday morning in Johannesburg following the release of a trading statement from the South African mining company detailing a fall in half-year profits.

The statement, warning shareholders ahead of the company’s half-year results on Thursday, says basic earnings per share for the six months ending December 31, 2012 are expected to be up to 79 per cent lower than the equivalent period in 2011, at 120-138 cents. Read more

Impala Platinum on Friday finally announced the long-awaited terms of its deal to sell a majority stake in its Zimbabwe operation to local black investors in response to president Robert Mugabe’s black ownership campaign.

In line with an outline accord agreed in March, Impala said in a statement that its 87-per-cent-owned Australian-listed Zimplats subsidiary will sell a 51 per cent stake in its mining business to local black investors for $971m, with Zimplats keeping the remaining 49 per cent. Zimplats will finance the deal, lending its new shareholders the money to buy the stock. Read more

Difficult days for South Africa. Not only is the mining industry in turmoil but the current account deficit has suddenly soared to 6.4 per cent of GDP, the biggest gap since 2008, according to data published on Tuesday.

Equity investors have been selling in droves – on Tuesday it was Impala Platinum’s turn to fall nearly 5 per cent on news of an unexpected wage demand. But fixed income fund managers have been pouring into the country, bouyed by South Africa’s imminent inclusion in a key Citigroup global bond index.

Were bond buyers to have a change of heart, it would spell trouble – and a decline in the rand. It fell 1 per cent early on Tuesday; though it later recovered a bit, trading was very volatile. Read more

Lonmin’s crisis-hit Marikana mine on Wednesday saw 3,000 striking miners stage the biggest protest since 34 workers were shot dead by police last month.

Reuters reported that police with tear gas, assault rifles, armoured vehicles and helicopters kept watch on the demonstrators in the strongest show of police force since the immediate aftermath of the shootings.

Fortunately, this time there was no violence. But any lingering hopes of an early settlement of the dispute have been firmly dispelled. Lonmin’s shares were down by nearly 5 per cent by mid-afternoon, extending to over 30 per cent the drop since the Marikana strike began a month ago. Read more

South Africa on Thursday was preparing to mourn the death of the miners killed at the Marikana platinum mine with a memorial at the complex and other services across the country.

The focus is rightly on the human cost of the tragedy after 34 workers were killed by police last week after 10 others, including two policemen, died in violent clashes during a prolonged strike at the Lonmin mine.

But political and economic considerations are never far away, given the central role of mining in South Africa. Read more

The killing of more than 30 striking miners by South African police on Thursday has shocked the country and the industry and reverberated around the financial markets.

Shares in Lonmin, the platinum mining group at the centre of the dispute, plunged by 10 per cent in Johannesburg early on Friday as details of the shootings at the company’s Marikana mining complex near Rustenburg were revealed.

While shares in Impala Platinum and Anglo American Platinum, the two other big operators at Rustenburg, also fell, the wider South African market barely moved.

Perhaps, investors are still weighing their responses. They would  be wise not to underestimate the potential impact of a tragedy that has South African commentators making comparisons with the worst excesses of the apartheid regime. Read more

For two years Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF has been ratcheting up the pressure on foreign-owned firms demanding that they dispose of a minimum of 51 per cent of their shares to indigenous Zimbabweans. This week’s agreement (in principle) for the localisation of majority ownership of Zimbabwe’s largest exporter Zimplats has the potential to be a gamechanger, economically and politically.

With elections due in the next 18 months, the Zanu-PF will be keen to push on with the programme. So which companies are next in line? Read more

After six weeks of strikes that led to three deaths, over 100 arrests and the loss of more than $300m of revenue, the worst may finally be over for Impala Platinum,  the Johannesburg-based owner of the world’s largest platinum mine.

Impala plans to reboot production at the Rustenburg mine on Monday, which analysts reckon will take at least three weeks, but possibly months. The miner said on Friday that the industrial action has cost it 120,000 ounces of lost platinum production - equating to R2.4 billion ($322 million) of lost revenue - while its share price has tumbled nearly 9 per cent since the strikes began, even as the Johannesburg Stock Exchange rose. Read more