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Miners see Botswana ideal for mining – Study

No country in Africa is rated before Botswana when it comes to encouraging investment in exploration and its jurisdiction is seen to provide attractive mining policies, according to Fraser Institute’s 2018 annual survey of mining and exploration companies.

The study was done by carrying out survey on approximately 2,600 individuals in exploration, development, and other mining-related companies around the world. The survey has the Investment Attractiveness Index which measure the attractiveness of a jurisdiction based on policy factors such as onerous regulations, taxation levels, the quality of infrastructure. The other main index is the Policy Perception Index which looks at the attractiveness of mining policies in a jurisdiction, and can serve as a report card to governments on how attractive their policies are from the point of view of an exploration manager.

Through the survey Fraser Institute assess how mineral endowments and public policy factors such as taxation and regulatory uncertainty affect exploration investment. Carried out across the world’s leading mining jurisdiction zooming into prospecting, exploring and mineral extracting companies the study also takes into account issues of safety, occupational health and environment as far as mining operations are concerned.

Since dominating for the last couple of years Botswana is again the highest ranked jurisdiction in Africa on policy, ranking 12th (of 83) in 2018, after ranking 21st (of 91) in 2017. According to the survey Botswana’s high scores this year and an improvement in past few years’ means mining and exploration investors can come home for mining projects since the is less or no concern over uncertainty concerning protected areas like: (-24 points), trade barriers (-20 points), and political stability (-18 points).

“The tax regime in Botswana continues to be exemplary when compared to other African jurisdictions and encourages investment in exploration,” says an exploration company vice-president interviewed for the survey according to the latest report by the Fraser Institute.
The survey which was circulated electronically to approximately 2,600 individuals between 21 August  and 9 November 2018 helps investors to assess how mineral endowments and public policy factors such as taxation and regulatory uncertainty affect exploration investment.
The “Best Practices Mineral Potential” index ranks the jurisdictions based on which region’s geology “encourages exploration investment” or is “not a deterrent to investment” and Botswana is still among the top performers in this index.

New ventures in Botswana

Recently there has been fresh news of opening of the mining that was formerly called Boseto by Khoemacau with a P5.6 billion investment. These news together with Botswana’s healthy diamond relationship with De Beer or/and Anglo America, may have contributed to Botswana’s high rankings in the mining survey. De Beers and Botswana talks are expected to reach a climax in June this year and both parties have promised an amicable deal to the media.

A company with foreign investors like Botswana Diamonds continues to hold exploration rights in Botswana soils and promises to keep them without any complain. Canadian diamond giant Lucara boasts of its Botswana’s Karowe diamonds which were recently making headlines synonymous with production of huge rough diamonds-this must provide a positive outlook for the Fraser Institution survey.

Saskatchewan displaced Ireland from the top spot this year, and had the highest PPI score of 100. Saskatchewan was followed by Nevada in second, which moved up from 5th in the previous year. Along with Saskatchewan and Nevada the top 10 ranked jurisdictions are Finland, Ireland, Western Australia, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Utah, New Brunswick, and Quebec.

The 10 least attractive jurisdictions for investment based on the PPI rankings are starting with the worst Venezuela, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Neuquén, Chubut, Philippines, Guatemala, La Rioja, Zimbabwe, Bolivia, and China. Venezuela, Democratic Republic of Congo, Chubut, Philippines, Guatemala, Zimbabwe, Bolivia, and China were all in the bottom 10 jurisdictions last year.

Botswana which is home to the richest diamond mine by value is noted as one the leading mining countries in the world with investment friendly policies and factors.  The country’s mining policies has birthed one the most celebrated public –private partnerships in the world between Botswana Government and global diamond giant De Beers Group .

Botswana accounts for more than 70 % of the De Beers diamond rough diamond produce. The 53 year old Southern African republic is the leading diamond-producing country in terms of value, and the second largest in terms of volume. This is the home base of De Beers, and the source of most of its production today. In 2013, Botswana produced 23.2 million carats with a stated value of $3.63 billion.The country is also home to one of the most abundant coal deposits in the world sitting at over 200 billion tones   with other minerals explored  being copper , zinc , silver and nickel.

But there are lowlights

The country has been unfortunate in seeing the abrupt closure of the BCL mine which was seen to be done in political expediency by close observers. The mine which is said to be one of the biggest copper mines is failing to garner investors since its closure and subsequent liquidation of 2016. Some believe the mine might end as a great white elephant as its care and maintenance continues to botch.

Another failed copper project which is unable to get a white knight investor is the Mowana mine which was closed last year December due to inability to live up to operation costs. Lerala mine is one of the worst in terms of attracting investors as it has even gone down in value-more than 50 percent its initial value. It was nearly auctioned for P80 million but its investors failed to raise capital according to the mine liquidator. Lerala mine still hangs on the hopes of the people of Lerala village as it is still looking for a knight investor.

The nightmare in the fall of the promising Pula Steel was recently reignited as its former owner Deepak Verma blames government for leading the mine into collapse. The mine was closed and liquidated after operational failure. For the 2018 report released this week, survey responses have been tallied to rank provinces, states, and countries according to the extent that public policy factors encourage or discourage mining investment.

The Fraser Institute received a total of 291 responses for the survey, providing sufficient data to evaluate 83 jurisdictions. By way of comparison, 91 jurisdictions were evaluated in 2017, 104 in 2016, 109 in 2015, and 122 in 2014.The number of jurisdictions that can be included in the study tends to wax and wane as the mining sector grows or shrinks due to commodity prices and sectoral factors. This year’s survey includes an analysis of permit times, which was previously evaluated in a separate publication.

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Pula smiles at COVID-19 vaccine

25th November 2020
COVID-19 vaccine

A squeaky and glittering metaphoric smile was the look reflected from the Pula against the greenback this week and money market researchers lean this on optimism following Monday’s announcement of another Covid-19 vaccine which is said to have boosted emerging market economies.

With other emerging market currencies, the Pula too reacted to optimism and fanfare on the new Covid-19 vaccine against the weakening US dollar which has been losing its shine since the uncertainty laden US elections.

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Choppies high on JSE rollercoaster volatility

25th November 2020
CHOPPIES

After bouncing back into the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) last week Friday, following a year of being in the freezer, the Choppies stock started this week with much fluidity.

Choppies was suspended in both the Botswana Stock Exchange and its secondary listing at the JSE for failure to publish financial results. Choppies suspension on Botswana Stock Exchange was lifted on 27 July 2020. On Friday last week, when suspension was being lifted, Choppies explained that this came into fruition “following extensive engagement with the JSE.”

Choppies stock, prior to suspension, hit a mammoth decline in value of more than 60 percent, especially in September 2018. Waking from a 24 month freezer, last week the Choppies share price was at R0.64 and the stock did not make any movement.

However, Monday was the day when Choppies stock moved vibrantly, albeit volatile. Choppies’ value was on a high volatile mood on Monday, reaching highs of 200 percent. At noon, the same Monday, the Choppies share had reached R1.05. Before taking an uphill movement, Choppies stock slightly slipped by 2 cents. But the Choppies share rode up high and by lunch time the stock had reached the day’s summit of R2.00 and that was at 13:30 when investors were buying the stock for lunch.

The same eventful Monday saw gloom on the faces of Choppies rivals, when Choppies gained by 220.31 percent around lunch time its rivals in the JSE Food & Drug Retailers sector were licking wounds. Spar lost 2.94 percent, Pick Pay fell by 2.43 percent, Shoprite 7.52 percent and Dis-Chem 1.98 percent. The only gainer was Clicks by a paltry 0.51 percent.

In an interview with BusinessPost, Choppies sponsors at the JSE PSG Capital Managing Director Johan Holtzhausen explained that the retailer’s stock was in high demand after a long suspension. He said when a company list or a suspension is lifted the market needs to find itself on the pricing of the share.

“Initially when the suspension was lifted there were more buyers than sellers. As far as we could see this created a shortage of shares so to speak and resulted in the price at which the shares traded going to R1.20 and eventually R2.05 before finding its level around R0.80 sent from a JSE perspective.

This is marked dynamics and reflect that there are investors that are positive about the stock in the long run. This is a snapshot over a short period and one requires a longer period to draw further conclusions,” said Holtzhausen in an interview talking about the Choppies stock.

On Monday this week where the Choppies value grew by 200 percent, the stock took a turn looking down, closing the day at R0.87 from a high of R2.00. According to local stockbroker Motswedi Securities on Monday while there was no movement by Choppies in the local stock exchange as the retailer appeared on the board as 141,000 shares traded at P0.60 each.

However in Choppies’ secondary listing the stock price rallied to over 200 percent during intraday trading on Monday before losing steam and declining to around R0.87 share.

Before press yesterday Choppies opened the market with the stock starting the day at R0.80 then went flat for few hours before taking a slide downward, dropping 5 cents in 30 minutes. Choppies then went flat at R0.75 for 50 minutes yesterday before going up at 10:20 am where it nearly recovered the open day price of 80 cents, but was shy of 1 cent. From 79 cents the price went flat until noon.

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Foschini-Jet merger, a class and rivalry conundrum dissection

25th November 2020
Foschini

Competition and Consumer Authority (CCA) has revealed that in its assessment of the Jet take over by Foschini, there were considerations on possible market rivalry and a clash in targeted classes.

According to a merger decision notice seen by this publication this week, high considerations were made to ensure that Foschini’s takeover of Jet is not anyhow an elimination of rivalry or competition or if the two entities; the targeted and the acquiring enterprise serves the same class of customers or offer the same products, to elude the anti-trust issues or a stretch of monopoly.

The two entities are South African retailers whose services stretched to Botswana shores.  Last month local anti-trust body, CCA, received an acquisition proposal from South African clothing retailer, Foschini, stating their intentions to take-over Jet.

South African government’s Business Rescue Practitioners earlier this year after finding out that Jet’s mother company, Edcon, is falling apart, made a decision that Foschini can buy Jet for R480 million. This means that Foschini will add Jet to its portfolio of 30 retail brands that trade in clothing, footwear, jewellery, sportswear, homeware, cell phones, and technology products from value to upper market segments throughout more than 4085 outlets in 32 countries on five continents.

However the main headache for the CCA decision which was released this week, is distinguishing the targeted and the acquiring entity businesses and services.

When doing a ‘Competitive Analysis and Public Interest’ assessment, CCA is said to have discovered that Foschini is classified as a “standard retailer” which targets middle-to-upper income consumers and it competes with stores such as; Truworths and Woolworths. The targeted entity, Jet, is on the lower league when compared to its acquirer, it serves customers of lower classes and is regarded as a discount/value retailer targeting lower income consumers or a mass market. This makes Jet to be in direct competition with Ackermans, Pepkor, Cash Bazaar and Mr Price.

“Therefore, a narrower view of the market is that Foschini through its stores trading in Botswana is not a close competitor to Jet. Additionally, there exist other major rivals who will continue to exercise competitive constraints on the merged enterprise post-merger,” concluded CCA this month.

The anti-trust body continued to explain that in terms of the Acquisition of a Dominant Position, the analysis shows that the acquisition of the target business by Foschini Botswana will result in an insignificant combined market share in the relevant market.

This made CCA reach to a conclusion that there is no case of an acquisition of a dominant position in the market under consideration or any other market on the account of the proposed transaction.

What supports the merger according to CCA is that it is in compliance with regards to ‘Public Interest Considerations’ because the findings of the assessment revealed that the transaction is as a result of the need for a Business Rescue by the target enterprise. This is so because in the event that the proposed transaction fails, it will translate into the loss of the employment positions at the target business.

“On that note the Authority (CCA) found it necessary to ensure that the proposed merger does not result in any retrenchments or redundancies. In light of this, the assessment revealed the critical need to protect the employees of the merged entity from possible merger specific retrenchments/ redundancies,” said CCA.

Before making a determination that the recently proposed transaction is not likely to result in the prevention or substantial lessening of competition or endanger the continuity of the services offered in the relevant market, CCA said it then moved into a concern for public interest which is a protection enshrined in the Competition Act of 2018.

CCA’s concern was mostly loss of livelihood or employment by 126 Batswana workers at Jet stores, stating that possible retrenchments or redundancies may arise as a result of implementation of the proposed merger.

Much to the desire of trade union or labour movements in Botswana and across Southern Africa where the Jet stores are stemmed-who also raised concerns about the retail’s workers job security- CCA subjects Foschini to keep the target entity 126 workers.

“There shall be no merger specific retrenchments or redundancies that may affect the employees of the merged enterprises. For clarity, merger specific retrenchments or redundancies do not include (the list is not exhaustive): i. voluntary retrenchment and/or voluntary separation arrangements; ii. Voluntary early retirement packages; iii. Unreasonable refusals to be redeployed; iv. Resignations or retirements in the ordinary course of business; v. retrenchments lawfully effected for operational requirements unrelated to the Merger; and vi. Terminations in the ordinary course of business, including but not limited to, dismissals as a result of misconduct or poor performance,” said CCA.

CCA also orders that Foschini informs it about all the details of 126 Jet employees within thirty (30) days of the merger approval date. CCA should also know information of when Foschini is implementing the merger, within 30 days of the approval date.

Other conditions include Foschini sharing a copy of the conditions of approval to all employees of the Jet or their respective representatives within ten (10) days of the approval date.

“Should vacancies arise in the target, the merged enterprise shall consider previous employment at one of the non-transferring Jet stores to be a positive factor to be taken into account in the consideration of offering potential employment,” said CCA.

According to CCA, in cases of any job losses, for the Authority to assess whether the retrenchments or redundancies are merger specific, at least three months before (to the extent that this deadline can be practically achieved and in terms of the prevailing and legally required employment practices) any retrenchments or redundancies are to take place, inform the Authority of:  i. The intended retrenchments; ii. The reasons for the retrenchments; iii. The number and categories of employees affected; iv. The expected date of the retrenchments.

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