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Anglo American maintains production rate

Global mining conglomerate Anglo American has reported a slight increase in total production for the third quarter of 2018 ended 30th September.

According to a performance overview released by the diversified mining giant this week total production registered a slight hike of 1 percent on copper equivalent basis for the four months ended September 30, 2018. The multi-Exchanges listed global outfit operates major mining undertakings in the world’s richest deposits unearthing almost all mineral varieties from copper, platinum, iron, metallurgical coal as well as diamonds, the latter is through the world’s flagship diamond producer De Beers which Anglo owns on majority shareholding.

De Beers, 15 percent owned by Botswana Government, breaks the world most valuable diamond fields in Botswana and Namibia amongst others. Anglo American reports that De Beers’s productions volumes decreased by 5 percent to 8.7 million carats attributable to expected lower grades at the world richest diamond mine by value, Jwaneng as well as lower volumes at Venetia.

De Beers Botswana operations under the banner of the country’s flagship mining company, Debswana registered production decline of   6 percent recording 5.7 million carats during the third quarter of 2018. Anglo America says the lower production volumes were anticipated because of to the planned processing of lower grade material at Jwaneng.On a more satisfactory note Orapa regime which is a basket of Orapa plants, Letlhakane and Damtshaa mines remained in line at flat figures with insignificant difference to 2017 Q3 production of 2.6 million carats.

Next door to Botswana, Anglo American also have lucrative mining interests in Namibia through another De Beers outfit, Namdeb Holdings a 50-50 venture between De beers and Government of Namibia recorded flat performance at 0.5 million carats. De Beers’ operations in South Africa recorded a production decline of 14 percent to 1.3 million carats due to a planned shutdown at Venetia to upgrade the processing plant ahead of the transition from open cut to underground operations, while Canada production increased by 5 percent to 1.2 million carats, driven by higher grades at Victor, which is approaching the end of its life.

In the overall Anglo American observes that rough diamond sales volumes amounted to 5.0 million carats, 4.6 million carats on a consolidated basis from two sales cycles in Q3 2018, compared to 6.9 million carats-6.5 million carats on a consolidated basis from two sales cycles in Q3 2017.

 “Rough sales volumes were down as a result of sight holders being given the opportunity during the seventh Sight of 2018 to re-phase the allocation of some smaller, lower value rough diamonds. Rough sales revenues were broadly in line with Q3 2017,” reads the report.
On Anglo American flagship base metal mineral, copper, production volumes hit an impressive hike by 17% to 171,800 tonnes, with production increases at all operations. 

Anglo notes that 23 % production increase 95,800 tonnes at Los Bronces was by enlarge driven by continued strong mine and plant performance, supported by significantly lower than usual winter snowfall and planned higher grades. For the company’s traditional revenue spinner Platinum mining operations, production increased by 4 percent to 649,000 ounces while palladium production increased by 1 percent to 410,800 ounces due to improved operational performances across the majority of the portfolio, despite the placing of unprofitable production from Bokoni on care and maintenance in Q3 2017.

Still under platinum basket own mined platinum production decreased by 7 percent to 332,900 ounces and palladium production decreased by 5 percent to 250,200 ounces due to the sale of Union mine to Siyanda Resources on 1 February 2018, after which its production was purchased as concentrate.   The United Kingdom incorporated mining giant explains that excluding Union, own mined platinum production increased by 5 percent and palladium production increased by 2 percent.

Refined platinum production decreased by 19 percent to 556,200 ounces and refined palladium production decreased by 29 percent to 321,500 ounces due to a rebuild of the Mortimer smelter in Q2 2018 and its progressive ramp up in Q3 2018 as well as the Polokwane smelter furnace repair that required a full shutdown for 35 days.

 Platinum sales volumes with exclusion of refined metal purchased from third parties decreased by 20 percent to 530,100 ounces and palladium sales volumes decreased by 30 percent to 324,300 ounces due to lower refined production. Still during the period under review Anglo American’s Kumba Iron ore production volumes decreased by 9 percent to 10.5 million tonnes, as planned, following rail constraints in half 1 2018, and a small decrease in plant yields as Kumba produced higher quality products to maximize the value of tonnes railed to port.

Export sales decreased by 10 percent to 9.7 million tonnes due to the scheduled refurbishment of a ship loader at the Saldanha Port that reduced loading capacity during the quarter. Total finished product stocks increased from 6.2 million tonnes at 30 June 2018 to 6.6 million tonnes at 30 September 2018, representing ~$175 million of working capital.  

For its metallurgical Coal, Anglo recorded 3 percent depreciation in exports to 5.4 million tonnes, with the Grosvenor ramp up being offset by a longwall move at Moranbah, anticipated challenging geological conditions at Grasstree and lower production at Dawson.  For thermal Coal production in South Africa, exports increased by 16 percent to 5.1 million tonnes, following operational improvements in the quarter and the impact of a 100-hour safety stoppage in Q3 2017, partly offset by conveyor issues at Zibulo.  

While domestic thermal coal production decreased by 68 percent to 2.7 million tonnes due to the completion of the sale of the Eskom-tied operations to Seriti on 1 March 2018. Nickel output increased by 3 percent to 11,500 tonnes driven by enhanced stability arising from operational improvements implemented at Barro Alto during 2018, while Manganese ore production increased by 6 percent to 887,600 tonnes.Manganese alloy production decreased by 7 percent to 34,800 tonnes due to a planned maintenance shutdown of the furnace during the quarter.

Anglo American Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Cutifani, remarked that his company’s   focus on driving efficiency and productivity across the business resulted in another strong quarter. “With volumes 1% higher than the solid operational performance seen in Q3 2017.
Production per employee has increased by 5 percent in 2018, compared to 2017, as we maintain relentless discipline on controllable costs.”

Cutifani observes that Anglo’s strong operational performance at its Copper assets which delivered a 17 percent increase in production mirrored quarter 3’s best performer, more than offsetting planned lower volumes at De Beers and the impact of rail infrastructure constraints at Kumba in the first half of the year.

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Business

Slight growth in GDP as economy battles return

28th July 2021
Peggy-Serame

Botswana’s economy showed slight growth signs in the first quarter of 2021, following a devastating year in 2020.

During 2020, the entire second quarter was on zero economic activity as the country went on total lockdown in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

Diamond trade plummeted to record low levels as global travel restrictions halted movement of both goods and people and muted trade.

The end result was a significant decline for the local economy, at an estimated 7 percent contraction, just marginally below the 2008/09 global financial crises.

According to figures released by Statics Botswana this week, the country’s nominal Gross Domestic Product for the first quarter of 2021 was P47.739 billion compared to a revised P45.630 billion registered during the previous quarter.

This represents a quarterly increase of 4.6 percent in nominal terms between the two periods.

During the quarter, Public Administration and Defence became the major contributor to GDP by 18.4 percent, followed by Wholesale & Retail by 11.4 percent. The contribution of other sectors was below 6.0 percent, with Water and Electricity Supply being the lowest at 1.6 percent.

Real GDP for the first quarter of 2021 increased by 0.7 percent compared to a contraction of 4.6 percent registered in the previous quarter.

The improvement in the first quarter 2021 GDP reflected continued efforts to reopen businesses and resume activities that were postponed or restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The real GDP increased by 0.7 percent during the period under review, compared to an increase of 1.2 percent in the same quarter of 2020.

The recovery in the domestic economy was observed across majority of industries except Accommodation & Food Services, Mining & Quarrying, Manufacturing, Construction, Other Services and Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing.

The overall slow performance of the economy was mainly due to the impact of measures that were put in place to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Non-mining GDP increased by 4.1 percent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to 4.0 percent increase registered in the same quarter of the previous year.

Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing industry decreased by 2.0 percent in real value added during the first quarter of 2021, relative to a contraction of 5.2 percent registered during the same quarter of 2020.

The main driver of the unfavorable performance stems from a decrease in real value added of Livestock farming by 3.0 percent.

Mining and Quarrying registered a decrease 11.4 percent in the real value added, this was mainly influenced by the drop in the Gold and Diamond real value added by 17.5 and 12.5 percent respectively.

Diamond production in carats went down by 12.1 percent while the tonnage of Gold produced went down by 17.5 percent.

The poor performance of the diamond sub-industry is attributed to the reduction in production due to a lower grade feed to the plant at Orapa in response to heavy rainfall and operational issues, including continued power supply disruptions.

With regard to Gold is due to diminishing resource base which affect production.

The Manufacturing industry recorded a decline of 7.4 percent in real value added during the first quarter of 2021, compared to a decrease of 2.3 percent registered in the corresponding quarter of 2020.

The deep low performance in the industry is observed in the two major sub-industries of Beverages & tobacco and Diamond cutting, polishing and setting by 57.0 and 38.5 percent respectively.

The reduction in Beverages is attributed to alcohol sale ban imposed during the quarter under review in order to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. On the other hand, exports of polished diamonds went down by 24.9 percent compared to a decrease of 11.5 percent registered in the same quarter of the previous year.

The construction industry recorded a decline of 4.8 percent compared to an increase of 4.3 percent realized in the corresponding quarter in 2020.

This industry comprises of buildings construction, civil engineering and specialized construction activities. The industry is still showing signs of the consequences of COVID-19 pandemic. The industry recorded a negative growth of 7.4 percent in the previous quarter.

Water and Electricity Water and Electricity value added at constant 2016 prices for the first quarter of 2021 was P506.2 million compared to P378.2 million registered in the same quarter of 2020, recording a growth of 33.8 percent.

In the first quarter of 2021, Electricity recorded a significant growth of 62.4 percent compared to a decrease of 67.6 percent recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2020.

The local electricity production increased by 22.4 percent while Electricity imports decreased by 33.3 percent during quarter under review. The water industry recorded a value added of P231.3 million compared to P209.0 million registered in the same quarter of the previous year, registering an increase of 10.7 percent.

Wholesale and Retail Trade real value added increased by 11.4 percent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to an increase of 5.5 percent registered in the same quarter of the previous year. The industry deals with sales of fast moving consumer goods.

Diamond Traders recorded a significant growth of 112.7 percent as opposed to a decline of 22.7 percent recorded in the corresponding quarter last year. The positive growth is due to improved demand of diamonds from the global market.

The Transport and Storage value added increased by 0.6 percent in the first quarter of 2021, compared to a 2.4 percent increase recorded in the same quarter of the previous year.

The slight improved performance of the industry was mainly attributed to the increase in real value added of Road Transport and Post & Courier Services by 4.3 and 2.1 percent respectively.

The slow growth was influenced by a significant reduction in Air Transport services of 69.7 percent due to reduced number of passengers carried. Rail goods traffic in tonnes went down by 6.4 percent and passenger rail transport was not operating during the quarter under review.

Accommodation and Food Services Accommodation and Food Services real value added declined by 31.7 percent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to a decrease of 4.4 percent registered in the same quarter of the previous year. The reduction is largely attributed to a decrease of 42.1 percent in real value added of the Accommodation activities subindustry.

The suspension of air travel occasioned by Covid-19 containment measures impacted on the number of tourists entering the borders of the country and hence affecting the output of Hotels and Restaurants industry. COVID-19 restriction measures resulted in reduced demand for leisure and conferencing activities, as conferences are largely held through virtual platforms.

Finance, Insurance and Pension Funding industry registered a positive growth of 8.3 percent due to the favorable performance from monetary intermediation and Central Banking Services by 16.4 and 5.4 percent respectively during quarter under review.

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Business

Chobe Holdings secures P16 million for dark days

28th July 2021
Chobe Holdings

It is still tough in the tourism industry — big players in this sleeping giant are not having it easy, but options are being explored to keep the once vibrant multibillion Pula sector alive until the world gets back to normalcy.

One of the primary measures against the spread of Covid-19 is to stay home; this widely pronounced precaution against the global contagion that has claimed over 4 million lives across the world is however a thorn in the flesh of one of the major industries in the global economy — the tourism sector .

This sector is underpinned by travel – an act which is the virus‘ number one mode of spread, especially across borders.

Chobe Holdings Limited, one of Botswana’s leading high end eco-tourism giants said its survival strategies are underpinned by well-crafted stakeholder engagements in the mist of these unprecedented times of muted trading activity.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Chobe continued to invest in and strengthen its relationships with key stakeholders in both its traditional markets and the SADC region,” the company directors updated shareholders this week.

To keep the business afloat, the company which owns and operates some of the exquisite tourism destinations along the banks of the mighty Chobe said it has triggered its existing available debt financing avenues.

Chobe revealed that its current overdraft of BWP 25 million has been extended on favourable terms.

The company shared that it has negotiated a further USD 1.5 million (over P16 million) standby loan with a flexible settlement terms and preferable cost implications to the bottom line.

“We are confident that the Group has sufficient cash inflows, cash reserves and un-utilized prearranged borrowing in place to settle any liabilities falling due and support the smooth recovery of operations in the short and medium term,” the company directors said, noting that they will retain the flexibility to vary operations should market conditions change.

Early this year, Chobe announced that the ongoing crisis in the tourism industry forced the company to draw from its prearranged overdraft facility of P25 million to the extent of P11.6 million.

Last year Chobe’s occupancy levels around its lodges and hotels went down 89 percent. This resulted in unprecedented revenue decline of 93% to P27.78 million from the P373.94 million in the previous year ended February 2020.

Operating profits went down 159% with profit after tax down 170%, mirroring a loss of over P67 million.

Chobe management said during the last half of the financial year they have done all they could to contain costs across the company’s operations.

During the last half of the year Chobe’s marketing and reservations teams continued to pursue the “don’t cancel but defer policy”.

“We thus continue to hold advance travel receipts, to the value of about P34 million at the financial year end,” the company revealed early this year.

Chobe said it continues to engage Government, through HATAB and BTO to prioritize the vaccination of workers in the tourism sector.

“Throughout the pandemic we have ensured that employees are trained in and comply with COVID-19 infection mitigation protocols as well as ensuring that all visitors to our remote camps and lodges as well as our staff and contractors are tested for COVID-19 before reaching the camp or lodges,” the company said.

However, the company said vaccinating the tourism staff will provide the best way to ensure that both employees and guests are protected from the virus.

“We continue to manage our cashflow through stringent cost control measures, balanced against the protection of the Group’s physical assets and the wellbeing and retention of its people,” the company said.

Chobe has successfully retained its top management through the pandemic.  To this end the company directors continue to closely monitor the Group’s recovery from COVID-19 and adjust salary reductions to support operations and aid retention.

Domestic and regional travel resumed during the second quarter of the 2020/21 financial year with the Group opening a strategic mix of camps and lodges.

A comprehensive domestic, regional and international marketing plan was put in place to support these openings.

International travel resumed in the first quarter of the 2021/22 financial year with occupancies forecast to steadily increase, albeit from a low base, through the second quarter.

The company is optimistic that forward bookings are strong for the 2022/23 financial year.

“There is pent-up demand from our traditional source markets to travel now, but this is tempered by uncertainty and access constraints,” the company stated.

“Both the domestic and international markets are sensitive to such uncertainty, and it is critical that both the private and public sector work together to develop and publish clear, authoritative and consistent travel information in order to build confidence”

Chobe entered the pandemic with the Shinde camp rebuild in progress — one of its high end camps and this was completed in the first half of the 2020/21 financial year accounting for the majority of the Group’s capital expenditure for that period.

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Business

De Beers Q2 production jumps in response to strong rough diamond demand

28th July 2021
De-Beers -jwaneng-mine

De Beers Group, the world’s leading rough diamonds producer by value and Botswana’s partner in the diamond business, ramped up its production in the second quarter of 2021, in response to stronger demand for rough diamonds in the global markets.

The London headquartered diamond mining giant revealed in its production report this week that rough diamonds output  increased by 134% to 8.2 million carats in the three(3) months  of quarter 2 2021, “reflecting planned higher production to meet stronger demand for rough diamonds”.

This was against the backdrop of curtailed demand in the same quarter last year, mirroring the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns across southern Africa during that period.

In Botswana, where De Beers sources majority of its rough diamonds through partly government owned Debswana, production increased by 214% to 5.7 million carats. The percentage jump mirrored planned low production in the second quarter of 2020 where output was adjusted to market demands and implemented Covid-19 protocols.

Debswana operates four (4) Mines: Jwaneng Mine- being its flagship producer and largest revenue contributor. Jwaneng Mine which is the wealthiest diamond mine in the world by value is envisaged for multi-billion expansion to an underground operation in future to stretch its existence by few more decades.

The underground project which is anticipated to cost a whooping P65 billion will be the world‘s largest underground diamond mine.

The company which accounts for over 65 % of De Beers’s global production also operates Orapa Mine- one of the world’s largest by area, Letlhakane Mine currently a tailings treatment operation and Damtshaa Mine which is under care and maintenance following market shrink in 2020.

Namibia production decreased by 6% to 0.3 million carats, primarily due to planned maintenance of the Mafuta vessel which was completed in the quarter and another vessel remaining demobilized.  In Namibia De Beers sources diamonds both in land and marine through Namdeb and Debmarine respectfully.

In South Africa-the spiritual home ground of De Beers Group, production increased by 130% to 1.3 million carats, due to planned treatment of higher grade ore from the final cut of the Venetia open pit, as well as the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown in Q2 2020.

Production in Canada increased by 14% to 0.9 million carats, primarily reflecting the impact of the Covid-19 measures implemented in Q2 2020.

De Beers said consumer demand for polished diamonds continued to recover, leading to strong demand for rough diamonds from midstream cutting and polishing centers, despite the impact on capacity from the severe Covid-19 wave in India during April and May.

Rough diamond sales totaled 7.3 million carats (6.5 million carats on a consolidated basis), from two Sights, reflecting the impact of the reduced Indian midstream capacity on Sight 4, compared with 0.3 million carats (0.2 million carats on a consolidated basis) from two Sights in Q2 2020, and 13.5 million carats (12.7 million carats on a consolidated basis) from three Sights in Q1 2021.

The H1 2021 consolidated average realized price increased by 13% to $135/ct (H1 2020: $119/ct), driven by an increased proportion of higher value rough diamonds sold.

While the average price index remained broadly flat, the closing index increased by 14% compared to the start of 2021, reflecting tightness in inventories across the diamond value chain as well as positive consumer demand for polished diamonds.

Full Year Guidance Production guidance is tightened to 32–33 million carats (previously 32-34 million carats (100% bases)), subject to trading conditions and the extent of any further Covid-19 related disruptions.

When commenting to 2021 quarter 2 production figures, Mark Cutifani, Chief Executive of Anglo American- De Beers parent, said the entire Anglo American Group delivered a solid operational performance supported by comprehensive Covid-19 measures to help safeguard the lives and livelihoods of its workforce and host communities.

“We have generally maintained operating levels at approximately 95% of normal capacity and, as a consequence, production increased by 20% compared to Q2 of last year, with planned higher rough diamond production at De Beers” he said.

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