May’s top news stories

4 June 2019 (Last Updated June 18th, 2020 13:32)

Zimbabwe is reportedly considering scrapping a controversial equity ownership law currently affecting the country’s platinum sector, in an attempt to encourage foreign investment in the industry, and Lawyers representing South African gold miners have proposed a settlement worth R5bn ($338m) to the Gauteng High Court, to provide compensation to workers affected by silicosis or pulmonary tuberculosis in the last 54 years. Mining-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from May 2019.

May’s top news stories
The Zimbabwean Government is targeting production of 50,000 tonnes of platinum group metals in 2030. Credit: Zimplats

Zimbabwe considers removing platinum equity ownership law

Zimbabwe is reportedly considering scrapping a controversial equity ownership law currently affecting the country’s platinum sector, in an attempt to encourage foreign investment in the industry.

Platinum mining in Zimbabwe has been governed by the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, first introduced in 2008 by then-president Robert Mugabe. The act forcibly transferred 51% of businesses in the country into the ownership of native Zimbabweans. While this ensured local ownership of operations, the ambiguity around the definition of those affected by the bill and the fact that it resulted in foreign investment in platinum mining being all but eradicated, has meant the act has proven unpopular.

The sector’s miners were particularly opposed to the bill considering the importance of platinum mining to the Zimbabwean economy. The country is the third-largest producer of platinum in the world, with the government targeting 50,000 tonnes (t) of production in 2030, and platinum is the driving force behind a mining sector that accounted for around 16% of GDP in 2018.


South African lawyers propose compensation for silicosis and TB

Lawyers representing South African gold miners proposed a settlement worth R5bn ($338m) to the Gauteng High Court, to provide compensation to workers affected by silicosis or pulmonary tuberculosis in the last 54 years.

The lawsuit, which was first proposed in 2012 and certified as a class action suit in 2016, is organised by three South Africa law firms: Richard Spoor Incorporated Attorneys, Abrahams Kiewitz and the Legal Resources Centre. While a number of miners have opposed the settlement, including DRD Gold and East Rand Proprietary Mines, six mining companies agreed to pay compensation should the court accept the settlement: African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony and Sibanye-Stillwater.

The money will be used to create a fund known as the Tshiamiso Trust, named after a Setswana word meaning ‘to correct’, which which will manage the distribution of funds to current and former miners exposed to the diseases, or the families surviving those killed by the conditions. While R845m ($57m) of the money will be set aside to cover the trust’s administrative expenses, the majority will be put towards compensation for claimants over the next 12 years.


NMDC plans to acquire remaining stake in Legacy Iron Ore

The National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC), India’s state-owned miner, announced plans to acquire the remaining interest it does not already own in Australia’s Legacy Iron Ore.

NMDC initially acquired around half of the Australian firm in 2011 but has since increased its stake to 78.56%.

NMDC finance Amitava Mukherjee was quoted by The New Indian Express as saying: “We are planning to acquire the remaining stake in Legacy and may delist the company from the Australian Stock Exchange in the future after the full take-over as there is a lot of compliance-related expenditure.”


Adani reveals strong coal and solar performance in Q4 FY2019

Indian miner Adani Enterprises announced its results for the fourth quarter of the 2019 financial year, ending April 2019, which reveal increases in the company’s coal production across its operations.

In the three months to April, the miner produced 3.68 million tonnes of coal, a 90% increase over the same period in 2018. This significant expansion drove a similar year-on-year increase, with the company’s total coal production in the 2019 financial year reaching 12.13 million tonnes, a 72% increase over the 7.04 million tonnes produced in the previous 12 months. As a result, the miner’s income from operations increased by 36% from one year to the other.

“Adani Enterprises continues to focus on incubating businesses of national importance, building second generation infrastructure and utilities,” said chairman Gautam Adani.

“With a stable government and emphasising policy initiatives paves way for growth opportunities across sectors.


Champion Iron acquires remaining stake in Bloom Lake mining complex

Champion Iron subsidiary Quebec Iron Ore (QIO) concluded an agreement with the Government of Quebec, through its agent Ressources Quebec (RQ), to purchase the remaining 36.8% stake in the Bloom Lake mining complex for a cash consideration of C$211m ($156m).

QIO is the operator of the Bloom Lake Mining Complex.

Champion simultaneously announced that its subsidiary QIO has concluded an agreement with la Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) for a preferred share offering of C$185 ($136m).


Queensland approves Adani’s black-throated finch management plan

The Australian state of Queensland approved a plan submitted by Indian miner Adani to manage black-throated finches at its proposed Carmichael coal mine, leaving the company with just one more permit to obtain before work begins.

India’s coal mining and trading group Adani has been working with the Queensland government for more than a decade to obtain approvals to develop the Carmichael mine.

The Carmichael mine project is located in the remote Galilee Basin in central Queensland. The mine, which is 300km from the Queensland coastline, was mired in multiple controversies concerning its economic viability and environmental impacts.


US urges caution in plan to mine bauxite in Ghana’s Atewa Forest

The US Forest Service (USFS) urged the Ghanaian Government to more comprehensively consider the impacts of a proposed scheme to mine bauxite in the Atewa Forest due to the project’s potential environmental and social damage.

The project is being led by the Ghana Integrated Aluminum Development Corporation, a body created in 2018 to establish an aluminium and bauxite industry in the country. The corporation has since identified a number of bauxite deposits that could form the basis of new mining operations, including a deposit of around 150m metric tonnes of the mineral beneath the Atewa Forest, one of the last surviving rainforests in Ghana.

The forest has been designated as a special biological protection area since 1994 due to its rich biodiversity, with the region home to over 1,000 plant species, 56 of which are facing extinction, and more than 700 species of butterfly alone. Mining operations in the forest could also disrupt the water supply of up to five million Ghanaians, who rely on the Atewa Forest as their primary source of water.


CNMC, ETG and Turkey reportedly express interest to buy KCM in Zambia

China’s Nonferrous Metals Mining Corporation (CNMC), the commodity trading group ETG and an undisclosed Turkish company announced plans to acquire a stake in Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), a copper mining and smelting company in Zambia.

Vedanta Resources, which partly owns Mumbai-listed Vedanta group of companies, holds a majority stake in KCM.

Last month, Vedanta Resources announced its plans to open a dialogue with the Government of Zambia, to fight for its legal rights and oppose the appointment of a provisional liquidator to complete the closure of the KCM business.


Sibanye-Stillwater and Lonmin merger receive shareholder approvals

Precious metals miner Sibanye-Stillwater and Lonmin received shareholder approval for their planned merger, which will position the merged entity as one of the world’s leading platinum and palladium producers.

According to Sibanye-Stillwater, 87% of its shareholders supported the all-share offer, which was revised down in April. This updated offer values Lonmin at £226m, ($286m), £60m less than the earlier offer.

The majority of the shareholders of Lonmin approved the deal on the same day.


Bluejay signs analysis agreement with Rio Tinto and Titanium Canada

Bluejay Mining signed an agreement with Rio Tinto Iron and Titanium Canada (RTIT) to further analyse Ilmenite from its wholly owned Dundas Ilmenite project in Greenland.

RTIT, a member of the Rio Tinto Group, is a producer of high-grade titanium dioxide feedstock and owns production operations in Canada, South Africa, and Madagascar.

Dundas, a scalable strategic asset of Bluejay, has a current joint ore reserves committee code-compliant mineral resource of 101Mt at 7.1% ilmenite and has been confirmed as the world’s highest-grade mineral sand ilmenite project.