JSE ends softer on declines in gold and resources

THE JSE closed the Tuesday session softer as market participants took profit in the resources and gold mining sectors after good recent gains and following a minor sell-off in these sectors in Australia today‚ which filtered through to the local bourse.

At 5pm‚ the all share index closed 0.1% lower at 46‚889.64 points and the top 40 index was 0.11% softer.

The gold mining index led declines‚ shedding 3.85%‚ followed by resources down 1.41% after rises over the past few days that were underpinned by a weak rand.

Retailers regained some strength after some losses over the last week or so‚ with the food retail index ending 0.92% firmer and general retailers up 0.75%.

“A minor sell-off of resources and miners in Australia on the back of weaker commodity prices put pressure on our miners and pushed our resource sector lower. The announcements of local strikes added pressure to our resources‚” Investec Asset Management equity dealer Kagiso Matlala said.

“Retailers have bounced back after being sold off the last couple of days after some negative trading updates last week. They have now come back a bit after selling has been a bit overdone‚” he said.

Meanwhile, US stocks rose‚ as the Chinese central bank’s injection of funds into money markets and some positive corporate news helped put investors returning from a long holiday weekend in an upbeat mood‚ Dow Jones Newswires reported.

At 5pm local time‚ the Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.14% at 16‚476.42 points. The stock market was closed on Monday for Martin Luther King Junior Day.

The People’s Bank of China injected liquidity into the banking system after short-term borrowing costs leapt as demand for cash increased ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday‚ helping ease concern over a credit crunch‚ the news service said.

Among individual shares on the JSE, Anglo American shed 2.74% to R241.84 and rival BHP Billiton ended 1.95% lower at R331.20, while Sasol gained 1.33% to R545 on a firmer oil price.

Kumba Iron Ore lost 3.25% to R446.

AngloGold Ashanti led declines in the gold space, falling 4.77% to R144, followed by Harmony Gold, down 3.36% to R29.87. Gold Fields gave back 3.2% to R36.25 despite a positive production and cost trading update on Tuesday.

Gold Fields’ attributable group production for the fourth quarter ended December 2013 is expected to be about 598‚000 gold-equivalent ounces‚ which is 21% higher than the 496‚000 ounces achieved in the September 2013 quarter (third quarter)‚ the gold miner said.

Among platinum counters, Anglo American Platinum gained 2.21% to R417.65, as looming strikes could disrupt supplies, while Lonmin bucked the trend, shedding 3.25% to R56.

Northam Platinum lifted 2.07% to R44.91 after management confirmed late on Tuesday that the strike at the company’s Zondereinde mine had ended, and a two-year wage agreement had been reached.

Global brewer SABMiller closed 0.14% firmer at R549.68 after it released a trading update on Tuesday stating total beverage volumes grew by 2% for the third quarter on an organic basis‚ with lager volumes up 1% and soft drink volumes up 7%.

Electronics group Ellies Holdings closed 2.52% higher at R6.10, despite announcing a 41% drop in interim profit, which the company ascribed to the ending of a contract with Eskom.

Among retailers, Woolworths rose 1.3% to R69.49, Shoprite added 1.04% to R150 and Spar gained 1.85% to R123.75.

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Mining tycoon scores a win in corruption battle

The controversial mining tycoon Beny Steinmetz has won what he claimed to be a major victory involving corruption allegations in the troubled west African state of Guinea.

His London-based empire has been dogged by claims that he corruptlyobtained mining rights to what could be the world’s richest iron ore deposit under the previous president of the country. A French newspaper last year reported that he and his business had been part of a coup effort against current leader, Alpha Condé.

The report included evidence based on French secret service documents which, it emerged yesterday, the French ministry of defence says were fakes. The fakery claim is seen as important by Mr Steinmetz because of other allegations against him based on what he says are forged documents.

In the US, a Steinmetz associate, Frederic Cilins, has been charged with attempting to obstruct justice after allegedly trying to destroy documents sought by a federal grand jury investigation into the tycoon. Mr Steinmetz claims those, too, are forged.

South Africa can ill-afford more platinum strikes – Gordhan

South Africa cannot afford more labour unrest in the platinum industry, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Monday, after the sector’s main trade union said it would launch a strike at the world’s top three producers this week.

Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to strike at the world’s biggest producer, Anglo American Platinum.

That followed recent votes to strike at Impala Platinum and Lonmin Plc. A simultaneous stoppage at the three would hit an important export at a time when the rand currency is near a five-year low, and further dent investor confidence in Africa’s largest economy.

“The platinum industry needs to seriously get around the table,” Gordhan told state broadcaster SAFM in an interview.

“We can least afford another round of strikes that will act as a destabilisation to the platinum sector which has had increasing difficulties over the last 18 months.”

Renewed labour unrest would also be an unwelcome distraction for President Jacob Zuma and his ruling African National Congress ahead of general elections expected in three months.

At Anglo American Platinum and Lonmin, the union is seeking a minimum monthly wage of 12,500 rand ($1,200) for entry-level workers – more than double current levels, under the populist banner of a “living wage”.

At Impala, the union scaled back its demand late last year to just over 8,500 rand a month.

Companies have said they can ill afford steep increases as power and other costs soar while prices for the white metal used in emissions-capping catalytic converters in automobiles remain depressed.

Platinum’s spot price shed 11 percent last year and is about 40 percent down from record peaks scaled in 2008.

 

One of China’s largest copper/gold mines to expand dramatically

China Gold International Resources plans to expand production capacity at its Jiama mine to 50,000 t/d (Phase II plant capacity) with the addition of a new floatation plant (44,000 t/d ore), the development of two additional open-pits (Jiaoyan and South pits) and the expansion of the underground mining operation. Total production is planned to increase from its current production rate of 1.8 Mt to 16.5 Mt/y of ROM ore. Metal concentrate will be sold to smelters within China.

The company has the results of an updated NI 43-101 compliant, independent feasibility study for the Phase II Expansion of its Jiama copper-polymetallic mine in Tibet Autonomous Region, China. Mining One has produced the NI 43-101 compliant report based on the Phase II Expansion project feasibility study, prepared by the Changchun Gold Design Institute in conjunction with independent consulting engineers and the company’s management.

The Jiama project is a large scale polymetallic (Cu, Mo, Au, Ag, Pb, Zn) deposit located approximately 68 km east-northeast of Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet Autonomous Region, along the Sichuan-Tibet Highway within the Gangdise Copper Metallogeny Belt in Central Tibet, China and represents one of China’s largest copper-gold mines.

Phase I of the Jiama Project commenced commercial production in September 2010 and included the development of the Tongqianshan and Niumatang open pits. These pits currently produce 1.8 Mt/y of run-of-mine (ROM) ore. The ore from these mines is processed via two processing plants with a combined processing capacity of 6,000 t/d of ore. The company plans to expand production capacity to 50,000 t/d (Phase II plant capacity) with the addition of a new floatation plant (44,000 t/d ore), the development of two additional open-pits (Jiaoyan and South pits) and the expansion of the underground mining operation. Total production is planned to increase from its current production rate of 1.8 Mt to 16.5 Mt/y of ROM ore. Metal concentrate will be sold to smelters within China.

European Union ponders guidelines for fracking of shale

BRUSSELS — The European Union (EU) plans guidelines for shale drilling, under proposals that may facilitate oil and gas extraction using the contested technique that has brought the US towards energy independence.

The 28 member governments will be urged to follow the nonbinding principles so that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is done safely and without confusion over conflicting environmental regulations among states and the bloc, according to draft recommendations seen by Bloomberg. The guidelines would not interfere with a country’s right to ban the practice.

Investors and explorers have expressed concern that shale prospects may become too difficult to tap compared with places such as the US and Russia because European countries are making a jumble of new laws. France’s Total, banned from fracking at home, on Monday became the largest oil producer to enter the UK’s shale industry.

“As shale-gas exploration activities are progressing, member states have started interpreting the EU environmental legislation in different ways” including bans and moratoriums, the European Commission said in a draft statement to governments to accompany the guidelines. The EU needs a level playing field to respond to a “fast-evolving energy landscape,” it said.

A commission spokesman was not available for comment on the documents, which are due to be adopted by the EU’s regulatory arm on January 22.

The proposal will be part of a package of documents on energy and climate policies to be considered by EU governments.

Telestack bulk material handling range at CONEXPO-CON/AGG

Telestack is to display some of its mobile bulk material handling equipment at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2014 In Las Vegas, which is being attended by IM. This will be Telestack’s third time at the show as an exhibitor and since its first visit in 2008 it has sold over 140 machines and counting in the North American market as well as building on introductions at previous shows. On display this time will be three machines that are new to the North American market. The factory sales and technical teams will be on hand to meet with existing and potential dealers and customers as well as potential new dealers and customers. The exhibit will include the world launch of the latest model in the Telestack tracked mobile hopper feeder range.

This unit has been developed in response to feedback from dealers and customers and can be used in a multitude of applications from reclaiming in mines, quarries and ports to loading mineral barges on inland river networks. Also on display will be the latest generation in its tracked radial range. The TC424R incorporates a number of design/performance improvements that have come from customer input over the past two years. The company states: “In many applications, this range from Telestack is becoming more popular than traditional track conveyors as it allows customers to combine the benefits of track mobility for ease of moving around the site/moving from site to site, being able to build radial stockpiles from one fixed position without having to reposition the crusher/screener thus reducing downtime and wheel loader operating costs, and also being able to operate the unit using the PLC program to reduce segregation/degradation and keep dust levels to a minimum. In fact a lot of the time the Telestack TC Radial range will do all that the operator needs a radial telescopic unit to do, but at a much lower capital cost.” The third unit on display is the new water-cooled TC 420 X which is the first of this new design to arrive in North America and replaces the successful previous model.

Videos and photos will display the rest of the Telestack family of equipment including radial telescopics, tracked mobile truck unloaders and tracked mobile link conveyors. In 2014, Telestack says it is looking forward to expanding its quarrying/mining customer base which includes Martin Marietta, Teichert, Vulcan, Tilcon, Oldcastle, CRH, Lafarge, Holcim, Cemex , Hanson Aggregates – Heidelberg, Iluka Resources and others. “We are proud to have been selling equipment in North America since 2007 and our ‘best in the industry’ network of full service dealers ensures we are able to fully support our customers. Telestack are continually looking to expand our network of dealers in North America and the rest of the world and we invite any company with an interest in selling our equipment to visit our booth. Our equipment is operating all over the world, often in extreme and harsh conditions. This proven record of performance coupled with our ability to continually innovate mobile bulk material handling solutions to meet the requirements of our customers helps ensures that we will continue to expand our product offerings in the years ahead.”

New skills centre for the Hunter Valley

The Hunter Valley Training Company (HVTC) is opening a new $5 million Skills Centre at Rutherford.

Officially opening later this week, HVTC CEO Sharon Smith explained that the “new state-of-the-art Skills Centre will be the training ground for more than 50 apprentices in 2014, who will gain skills in a range of traditional trades highly sought after in mining and manufacturing”.

“With custom built facilities, we’ll be better able to meet the changing nature of training and provide.”

Smith went on to add “we’ll also be broadening our range of training to include specifically designed induction courses, safety training, and additional short courses for Australian industry”.

HVTC is opening the new facility as it has outgrown its current site.