South Africa mining

It’s rarely a quiet day in South African mining. Last week there was the Mining Indaba conference, where the mood among many miners was one of caution; the mines minister has indicated that the controversial Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill will pass within months; and negotiations over the crippling mining strikes have apparently ground to halt. Then there was the tragic death of at least 10 workers in two separate incidents at Harmony Gold (pictured).

So where next for the industry? Continue reading »

South Africa’s upstart miners’ trade union, Amcu, is starting 2014 with a bang.

Not content with becoming the recognised union over the older, more established National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), it is looking to pull off the impressive feat of organising strikes at South Africa’s three biggest platinum companies – Lonmin, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), and Impala Platinum (Implats). That’s a combined 70,000 workers. And, more importantly, around two-thirds of the world’s platinum output. Continue reading »

Half full or half empty? When it comes to South African mining, you decide.

Late on Thursday, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) announced that a two-week strike had been resolved. Earlier in the day, Statistics SA released mining data that showed overall production increased 2.1 per cent year on year in August. That’s the half full view. The pessimists’ case is equally strong. Continue reading »

When members of South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers agreed to a revised pay offer from the country’s main gold producers – bringing to a close a strike by tens of thousands of miners – struggling companies must have breathed a collective sigh of relief. Instead of the protracted strike many executives had feared, the industrial action lasted just a few days with virtually all workers returning to work by Sunday evening. Continue reading »

Commodities bosses have spent the last two years trying to put as much rhetorical distance as possible between their companies and South Africa.

Not Ivan Glasenberg (pictured), chief executive of Glencore Xtrata and a South African himself. Undeterred by a negative perception of his mother country caused by crippling strikes, rising costs and often unreliable government policies, he has just announced an even closer relationship with South Africa. Continue reading »

A double dose of bad news for South Africa on Thursday: mining production fell by much more than expected in June and factory output was also a big disappointment.

The news comes as a double blow for an economy struggling with slow growth, high inflation and labour unrest. Continue reading »

The rand – one of the weaker EM currencies in 2013 – has come to the rescue of Anglo American Platinum.

Headline earnings at Amplats (as the company is known) rose 88 per cent to R1.3bn ($132m) on revenues up 24 per cent to R24.1bn. That’s pretty much where the good news runs out, though. Continue reading »

A victory for the upstart labour union in South Africa, Amcu (Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union).

Sibanye Gold has recognised it as the main union representing the miner’s workers – the first company to do so. But what are the implications for ongoing pay talks? Amcu has been pushing hard not only for recognition but also for big pay rises. Continue reading »

With crucial wage negotiations under way amid persistent strikes and declining commodity prices, South African mining has become symbolic of everything going wrong in the country. So would the latest mining production figures give any reason to hope?

Hardly. While a 0.7 per cent year-on-year contraction in May was better than the 4 per cent drop many economists had forecast, the outlook for the rest of the year is still on the depressing side. Continue reading »

Emerging market assets have had a rough time since the Fed started talking tapering – especially South Africa, with the rand weakening dramatically in recent months.

A little relief came on Friday in the form of better than expected monthly trade data, which showed South Africa’s trade deficit shrank faster than expected during May. Continue reading »

Kgalema Motlanthe, South Africa’s deputy president, on Friday unveiled a draft agreement for sustainable mining – a government attempt to bring some stability to the sector. It’s about time. In recent weeks, the unions have been making a lot of noise about strikes.

But in the past few days it has been the turn of the mining companies to put their point across, and threaten job cuts. Continue reading »

Worrying news from South Africa. London-listed miner Lonmin has said that talks with Amcu (Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union) – the more radical and growing union – will not resume on Thursday.

Amcu previously said that strikes would follow if negotiations over union recognition went unresolved. Amcu now represents over 70 per cent of Lonmin workers, usurping the more closely government-aligned National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). Continue reading »

When Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s president, got up to address parliament on Wednesday he did his bit to boost the spirits of a sombre nation, even if it was momentary uplift. He began by saying that Nelson Mandela was “responding better to treatment this morning” as the iconic former president spent his fifth day in hospital being treated for a recurring lung infection.

But then Zuma had to tackle other pressing problems facing Africa’s largest economy – the dire performance of its economy and the volatile nature of labour relations in the mining industry as companies prepare for crucial wage negotiations in coming weeks. Continue reading »

With a slew of poor data and general EM currency sell-off, the rand has been under a lot of pressure in recent days. Analysts have been busily crossing out 9s and replacing them with 10s to forecast how low the rand could go: 10.5 to the dollar is now not an uncommon call.

So manufacturing data released on Tuesday will bring some relief, however temporary, with a 7.0 per cent increase in production year-on-year. Mining data wasn’t quite as cheering, but neither was it a disaster. And so the rand recovered much of the early losses on Tuesday to stabilise around 10.2 to the dollar, having breached 10.3 earlier in the day. Continue reading »

It’s been a rocky start to the week for South Africa, with the hunt for an urgent solution to its mining chaos going nowhere. On Tuesday Jacob Zuma, the president, once again called for a peaceful resolution to the troubles rocking the sector after Monday’s fatal shooting of a union leader. He had made similar calls last week, as the sector’s troubles contributed to GDP growth at a fresh low of 0.9 per cent in the first quarter and the rand tumbled dramatically to record lows – its fall exacerbated, critics said, by Zuma’s failure to actContinue reading »