Monthly Archives: July 2016

Search for trapped Implats miner continues

The family of a trapped Impala Platinum Holdings Limited (Implats) miner will on Wednesday go underground to see where he went missing, the company said. “We have obtained a clearance from rescue teams to take representatives of the family underground to see and understand the [rescue] process,” said company spokesperson Johan Theron.

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Kumba Iron Ore

I hope you find the next few articles an interesting read.

Kumba weighs up possibility of dividend again

KUMBA Iron Ore has developed wide margins on the sale of its ore, despite a soft price for the steel ingredient, allowing the company to start thinking again about paying dividends and investing in growth.

Kumba, a unit of Anglo American, has been put up for disposal by the diversified miner in a process that will be overseen by Kumba CEO Norman Mbazima, who leaves the iron ore miner at the end of August.

Kumba grew to a net cash position of R548m in the first six months of 2016 after it restructured its flagship Sishen mine and pushed production hard at its smaller Kolomela mine, both of which are in the Northern Cape.

Kumba is busy with a programme of “incremental growth” by building three modular plants at both mines for between R400m and R600m each to add 2.1-million tonnes of saleable ore by processing lower grade stockpiled material. The first was already in production and another two will be commissioned next year, Mbazima said.

A dense media-separation plant that will be retrofitted will add another 3-million tonnes from 2019, and the cost should be in the range of R400m-R600m.

These extra tonnages are important to add to total production that is railed to the Saldanha port on the west coast. Kumba is in talks with Transnet Freight Rail about amending its railing contract after it shrank production at the Sishen mine to return the operation to profit.

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Kumba sees light at the end of the tunnel

Kumba Iron Ore turned the corner after the world’s fifth largest seaborne iron ore producer said yesterday that it had generated cash and posted higher earnings in a difficult half year to June.

The Anglo American subsidiary’s boosted balance sheet comes despite it grappling with deteriorating commodity prices. Kumba is focused on capital discipline amid uncertainty in the iron ore sector, which has been the worst performing commodity after nickel, sliding 40 percent last year.

The woes in iron ore prompted Anglo American to announce plans to disinvest from Kumba and declare it as a non-core asset. But Kumba has now turned the corner after it reported a net cash position of R548 million in the six months to June from net debt of R4.6 billion at the end of December.

Headline earnings rose 20 percent to R3bn from R2.5bn last year. No interim dividend was declared amid market volatility and the uncertain outlook in iron ore.

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Kumba Iron Ore appoints new CEO

Listen to and read the interview between SIKI MGABADELI and WARREN DICK

Anglo reshuffles Kumba Iron Ore management ahead of sale

Anglo reshuffles Kumba Iron Ore management ahead of sale

Anglo American (LON:AAL) has appointed Themba Mkhwanazi as the new chief executive of Kumba Iron Ore as the company readies to divest the unit.

Mkhwanazi, who currently leads Anglo’s South African coal unit, takes over on Sept. 1 from Norman Mbazima, who’s stepping down after four years at the job, the company said in a statement.

Mbazima will remain deputy chairman of Anglo’s South African division and will be in charge of overseeing the sale of the company’s non-core assets in the country, which include Kumba (JSE:KIO) itself as well as Anglo’s thermal coal businesses.

The company, however, is still debating whether to sell or spin off its majority stake in Kumba Iron Ore Ltd, Africa’s top producer of the commodity.

A drastic fall of iron ore prices affected Kumba last year forcing it to halve production at its Sishen mine and cut about 31% of its workforce. But in the first six months of the year the division reported earnings of 3 billion rand ($210 million), up 20% when compared to the previous year. Output dropped by 21%t, in line with Sishen’s revised plan.

“This time last year, Kumba was facing a significantly deteriorating price environment which brought about immense change to the industry,” departing CEO Mbazima said in a separate statement.

Since then, Kumba’s net cash position has improved substantially. It was 548 million rand at June 30 compared with net debt of 4.6 billion rand on Dec. 31. However, the miner won’t yet resume paying dividends.

Anglo American’s 70% stake in Kumba Iron Ore is valued at about $2 billion.

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Wescoal achieves ‘best ever’ financial results

South African coal mining and trading company Wescoal has posted its “best financial results ever” as it reins in costs, ramps up operations and sets a stable foundation for sustainable growth. The JSE-listed firm on Thursday posted a 76.1% surge in headline earnings a share to 27.1c apiece for the year ended March 31. Earnings a share rose 66.6% to 26.2c for the year under review.

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Barrick pays $140m to settle Pascua-Lama lawsuit

Barrick Gold (TSX, NYSE:ABX) has agreed to pay $140 million to resolve a US class-action lawsuit that accused the world’s largest gold producer of distorting facts related to its mothballed $8.5 billion Pascua-Lama project in South America.

Barrick confirmed the agreement disclosed in papers filed on Tuesday in Manhattan federal court, adding that the settlement is insured. In a statement the Toronto-based company said it “continues to believe that the claims alleged by the lead plaintiffs in the litigation are unfounded, and under the terms of the settlement agreement, the company has not accepted any charges of wrongdoing or liability.”   Read more

Key expansions at iconic Canadian diamond mines hit by setbacks

Expansion projects at two of Canada’s oldest diamond mines, Ekati and Diavik, have suffered setbacks this week on the back of permits delays and disputes with landowners.

One set of bad news came Wednesday, when Dominion Diamond (TSX, NYSE:DDC) — the owner of Ekati — said it was not planning to begin construction of the new Jay pipe until 2018, a year later than previously planned.

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Key expansions at iconic Canadian diamond mines hit by setbacks

Pollution Health Risks

Here are a few interesting articles on pollution health risks….

The San Gabriel Complex fire in June 2016

While Wildfires Ravage the Forests, Our Lungs Are at Risk, Too

This year’s wildfire season is off to a dramatic and early start, and so is the worry about what that smoke is doing to our lungs. Big wildfires started burning in Southern California in early June, and since then, air-quality agencies have been warning residents that pollution from those Southern California fires could make breathing a risky pastime. Residents of cities as far away as Las Vegas are being advised to limit their exposure to the smoke from Southern California fires.

Smoke from wildfires can contain a bewildering assortment of dangerous pollutants. They can range from the dioxins and furans released when structures catch fire and the plastic objects in them burn, to toxic but completely natural oils released from burning poison oak, which can cause fatal reactions when inhaled.

But the biggest public health threat from wildfires comes in the form of fine particulate matter, the microscopic particles of soot that darken skies for hundreds of miles downwind and make the air in distant cities as dirty as anything that famously smoggy Beijing has to offer.

“Wildfires are a major source of the same kind of particulate matter pollution that kills tens of thousands of people worldwide each year,” says Greg Karras, senior scientist with the environmental justice group Communities for a Better Environment (CBE). “And in places like the L.A. Basin where air pollution accumulates, wildfire smoke is a serious health hazard.”

“For people with asthma and other respiratory diseases, wildfire smoke can be life-threatening,” says Julia May, Karras’ fellow senior scientist at CBE. “Climate change is making fires worse and more frequent, and that has direct effects on human health.”

Fine particulate matter, which environmental scientists call PM2.5, is made up of particles that are smaller than one-30th the width of an average human hair. (That’s about 2.5 microns or less, hence the official abbreviation.) Particles that small can easily be drawn deep into your lungs. Once they land there, they stay, causing problems ranging from asthma to cancer to cardiovascular illness. Smaller particles can even move directly into your bloodstream, spurring ailments as serious as sudden heart attacks.

Kids are one of the groups most at risk of harm from fine particulate pollution, in large part because they tend to spend more time outside, engaging in strenuous play and breathing hard, sucking that PM2.5 deep into their growing lungs. The elderly, and people of any age with existing lung or heart disorders, are likewise at special risk. At high enough levels, PM2.5 can harm even the healthiest people after even brief periods of exposure to fine particulates. The results can range from mild difficulty in breathing to sudden death.

There’s always at least a little bit of fine particulate matter in even the cleanest air. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for determining how much PM2.5 is too much; every five years, the EPA looks at the available science and sets both long-term and short-term exposure levels. Those regulations are due for review in 2017; at the moment, the agency considers PM2.5 concentrations under 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air to be safe.

Air with 35.5 micrograms of PM2.5 is considered unhealthful for sensitive groups, namely children, the elderly and people with heart and lung ailments. At 55.5 micrograms per cubic meter, the air becomes unhealthful for everyone; even the relatively healthy should reconsider running that 5K, while sensitive groups might best avoid strenuous activity altogether. Above 300 micrograms per cubic meter, we’re all better off staying inside and running the air filter on our AC. (Swamp coolers and whole-house fans, which don’t filter out PM2.5, aren’t much help.)

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Doctors call for ‘major shift’ away from cars

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Public health doctors have used a new report, published on the 60th anniversary of the Clean Air Act, to call on local and national politicians to encourage a “major shift” away from cars in favour of walking, cycling and public transport.

The Clean Air Act, which was passed in response to London’s Great Smog of 1952, introduced a number of measures to reduce air pollution, including “smoke control areas” in some towns and cities in which only smokeless fuels could be burned.

The Faculty of Public Health’s new report ‘Local action to mitigate the health impacts of cars’ provides practical advice, based on best practice, to help local authorities design towns and cities that encourage active travel. It is endorsed by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), Chartered Institute for Waste Management (CIWM) and Partnership for Active Travel, Transport and Health (PATTH).

The report calls on local authorities, which have a public health remit and are responsible for improving the health of their communities, to ensure that town and city centres are designed to reduce the health harms of cars to their residents. It wants improved street design, better traffic management and greater investment in public transport which will both reduce congestion and pollution and are good for the local economy. The report reveals that people who arrive at shops on foot spend the most over the course of a week or a month.

Professor John Middleton, President of the Faculty of Public Health, said that 40,000 deaths each year in the UK are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution. “It is also evident that it is disproportionately the poorest of our communities which are most exposed and vulnerable to air pollution,” he said.

Prof Middleton calls for everyone in public health, local authorities and across the health and social care sector to work together to reduce the health harms of driving. “For the sake of our health now and generations to come, we need a change in culture so that walking or cycling becomes part of our daily routine, rather than spending hours sitting in cars.

“The Government’s commitment to address local air quality is welcome. Success depends on meaningful national action to reverse the increasing proportion of diesel vehicles in the national fleet, together with serious investment in public transport, walking and cycling. Clean Air Zones alone will not deliver this.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has welcomed the report saying that cleaning up the “toxic air” of London is one of his top priorities. “I am aiming to encourage people out of their cars by making cycling and walking far safer and easier, and ensuring public transport is affordable and efficient. There are some interesting ideas in this report and I hope the Faculty will respond to a consultation I have launched on my own hard-hitting action plan, which is designed to freshen our filthy air and protect the health of every Londoner.”

Professor Jonathan Grigg, of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “I fully support the Faculty of Public Health’s report on local actions to mitigate the health impacts of cars. Local measures that reduce the exposure of population, especially of vulnerable groups such as children, are of outmost priority given the widespread damaging effects of air pollution. The challenge is to ensure that these local initiatives really do reduce personal exposure – especially for individuals who choose to use active travel. We must also not lose sight of the importance of national policy such as encouraging drivers of diesel cars and vans to switch to less polluting vehicles.”

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Christie’s to sell 24.18 ct Cullinan Dream diamond for up to $29m

Auction house Christie’s will, next month, auction off the Cullinan Dream – a 24.18 ct fancy intense blue Type IIb diamond – that is expected to sell for between $23-million and $29-million. The diamond was cut from a larger 122.52 ct diamond discovered at Petra Diamonds’ Cullinan mine, in South Africa, in June 2014.

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Nigeria is home to city with worst PM10 levels

The word “Africa” often evokes romantic images of elephants crossing the Kalahari, thundering water at Victoria Falls, or panoramic views from Table Mountain.

But an increasingly common sight for Africans — especially those in Nigeria — is that of smog, rubbish and polluted water, according to a new report.    Read more
Onitsha -- a city few outside Nigeria will have heard of -- has the undignified honor of being labeled the world's most polluted city, according to <a href="" target="_blank">data </a>released by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Anglo American Zimele

Anglo American’s enterprise development arm Zimele has collaborated with the National Treasury’s Jobs Fund to support the establishment of 490 agricultural entrepreneurs through projects such as the Lambasi agricultural initiative – a jointly owned farming operation trading as Fundirite, in the Eastern Cape.

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State of emergency in Peru

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala has declared a 60-day state of emergency in a large remote area of the Amazon jungle as levels of mercury from illegal gold mining have reached record high levels.

According to country’s environment minister, as many as 50,000 people or 41% of the population of the gold-rich Madre de Dios region, bordering Brazil, has been exposed to mercury contamination.

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State of emergency in Peru over mercury poisoning from illegal gold mining