Debswana production up 33%
By Aubrey Lute
Debswana dug 6.1 million carats of diamonds in the third quarter; a 33 percent growth in production, the improvement comes after the miner had cut output last year in response to weaker trading conditions.
Orapa’s production increased 60 per cent mainly driven by the ramp-up of Plant 1, which was previously on partial care and maintenance in response to trading conditions in late 2015. Jwaneng’s production increased 23 per cent as a result of planned increases in feed to plant.
According to shareholder, Anglo American, Rough diamond production for Q3 2017 increased 46 per cent to 9.2 million carats in line with the higher production forecast for 2017, reflecting stable trading conditions as well as the contribution from the ramp-up of Gahcho Kué in Canada.
Anglo American said the increase was a response to a rebound in demand for the precious stones following a downturn last year. The largest production increase was in De Beers South Africa where Production increased 41 per cent to 1.5 million carats largely as a result of higher grades at Venetia.
Owing to the mixed demand of diamonds in 2016, Debswana revised its production for 2016 to 20 million carats to match expected levels of demand for rough. In the first three months of the year Debswana dug up 5.33 million carats of diamonds a five percent reduction from the carats mined during that same period in 2015. But demand has since improved into Q3 2017.
According to Anglo American’s latest report consolidated rough diamond sales volumes in Q3 2017 were 6.5 million carats (6.9 million carats on a total 100 per cent basis) from two Sights, compared with 5.3 million carats (5.7 million carats on a total 100 per cent basis) from two Sights in Q3 2016. The increase was driven by a normalisation of demand for lower value goods in 2017. Production at Namdeb Holdings (Namibia) increased 12 per cent to 454,000 carats primarily as a result of higher mining rates from Debmarine Namibia’s Mafuta vessel.
In Canada production increased five-fold to 1.1 million carats due to the ramp-up of Gahcho Kué, which reached nameplate capacity in Q2 2017. Gahcho Kué was officially opened on 20 September 2016.
Meanwhile, De Beers total rough diamond sales grew 77 percent by volume in the third quarter, reflecting improved trading conditions compared with a slump in demand a year ago. De Beers’s Full year production guidance has been revised to ~33 million carats (previously 31 – 33 million carats). The shareholder, Anglo American which has been in the process of selling off mines and slimming down its portfolio, had chalked up better-than-expected production in commodities it is looking to exit, including iron ore used in steelmaking and coal. Since the restructuring was unveiled, the prices of iron ore and coal had rallied strongly, against all expectations, boosting Anglo’s cashflow from operations it had earmarked for disposal.
ANGLO’S OTHER PRODUCTION
Meanwhile Anglo American reports a 6% increase in total production on a copper equivalent basis in the third quarter of 2017, compared to the same period of 2016. For the first nine months of the year, copper equivalent production has increased by 8%. Mark Cutifani, Anglo American Chief Executive, said: “We have delivered another strong production performance across our business. Grosvenor production has materially stepped-up as the new operating procedures have been implemented, while Gahcho Kué and Minas-Rio continue to make positive contributions. We have further increased production guidance at Kumba Iron Ore as we continue to improve our broader productivity performance. In Platinum, we have taken necessary steps to remove unprofitable ounces from production as we focus on value over volume.”
An Anglo American production report indicates that thermal coal production decreased by 15% due to operating challenges at Khwezela, a 100-hour safety stoppage across all the South African coal operations in August and weather related stoppages at Cerrejón. Metallurgical coal production increased by 8% as Grosvenor delivered strong production through successful management of geological challenges and completion of its first longwall panel.
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Grit divests from Letlole La Rona
Grit Services Limited, a member of the pan African real estate group, London Stock Exchange listed Grit Real Estate Income Group is divesting from Letlole La Rona Limited (LLR), a local real estate company established by government investment arm Botswana Development Corporation over a decade ago.
The Board of Directors of Letlole La Rona Limited this week announced in a statement to Unitholders that Grit Services Limited (‘Grit’) has informed them of its intention to exit its investment in the company.
Grit has been a material shareholder in LLR since 2019. On 07 March 2023, Grit sold 6 421 000 linked units, representing 2.29% of the Company’s total securities in issue, at a market value of BWP 22 537 710.
This trade follows previous sales of 6.79% in December 2022, as communicated to Unitholders on 10 January 2023, as well as a further sale of 4.78% (representing 13 347 068 linked units) on 24 February 2023 to various shareholders.
In aggregate, Grit has sold 13.9% shareholding in the Letlole La Rona between December 2022 and March 2023, resulting in current shareholding of 11.25% in the Company.
Letlole La Rona said in the statement that the exit process will take place in an orderly manner so as to maintain stability of the Company’s share price.
The statement explained that Grit’s sale of its entire shareholding in LLR is in line with its decision to exit investments where it does not have majority control, or where it has significant exposure to currencies other than US dollar, Euro or hard-currency-pegged revenue streams.
“Grit has announced similar decisions pertaining to certain of its hospitality assets in Mauritius recently. The Company would like to advise Unitholders that it remains focused on long-term value delivery to all stakeholders” LLR said
In July last year as part of their Go-to-Africa strategy Letlole La Rona acquired an initial 30% equity stake in Orbit Africa Logistics, with an option to increase this investment to 50%. OAL is a special purpose vehicle incorporated in Mauritius, owning an industrial asset in a prime industrial node in Nairobi, Kenya.
The co-investment was done alongside a wholly owned subsidiary of London listed Grit. The Orbit facility is situated on a prime industrial site on Mombasa Road, the principal route south of Nairobi center, serving the main industrial node, the port of Mombasa and the industrial town of Athi River and is strategically located 11 kilometers south of the international airport and 9.6 kilometers from the Inland Container Depot.
Grit shareholding in Letlole La Rona was seen as strategic for LLR, for the company to leverage on Grit’s already existing continental presence and expand its wings beyond Botswana borders as already delivered by Kenya transaction.
Media reports have however suggested that LLR and Grit have since late last year had fundamental disagreements on how to go about the Go-to-Africa strategy amongst other things, fuelled by alleged Botswana government interference on the affairs of LLR.
Government through LLR founding shareholder – Botswana Development Corporation has a controlling stake of around 40 percent in the company. Government is the sole shareholder of Botswana Development Corporation.
Letlole La Rona recently released their financial results for the six months ended December 2022, revenue increased by 4% to P50.2 million from P48.4 million in the prior comparative six months, whilst operating profit was up 8% to P36.5 million. Profit before tax of P49.7 million was reported, an increase of 8% on the prior comparative six months.
“We are encouraged by the strong results, notwithstanding a challenging economic environment. Our performance was mainly underpinned by annual lease escalations, our quality tenant base and below average market vacancy levels, especially in our warehouse portfolio,” Kamogelo Mowaneng, Letlole La Rona Chief Executive Officer commented.
LLR reported a weighted average lease expiry period of 3.3 years and escalation rates averaging 6.8% per annum for the period ended 31 December 2022.Its investment portfolio value increased by 14% year-on-year to close the period at P1.4 billion, mainly driven by the acquisition of a 30% stake in OAL in July 2022.
The Company also recorded a significant increase in other income, predominantly due to foreign exchange gains on the OAL shareholder loan. “We continue to explore pipeline opportunities locally, and regionally in line with our Go-to-Africa strategy and our interest remains on value-accretive investments,” Mowaneng said.
An interim distribution of 9.11 thebe per linked unit was declared on the 6th of February 2023 for the half-year period to 31 December 2022, comprising of a dividend of 0.05 thebe and debenture interest of 9.06 thebe per linked unit which will be paid to linked unit holders registered in the books of the Company at the close of business on 24 February 2023.
Stargems Group establishes Training Center in BW
Internationally-acclaimed diamond manufacturing company StarGems Group has established the Stargems Diamond Training Center which will be providing specialized training in diamond manufacturing and evaluation.
The Stargems Diamond Training Institute is located at the Stargems Group Botswana Unit in Gaborone.
“In accordance with the National Human Resource Development Strategy (NHRDS) which holds the principle that through education and skills development as well as the strategic alignment between national ambitions and individual capabilities, Botswana will become a prosperous, productive and innovative nation due to the quality and efficacy of its citizenry. The Training Centre will provide a range of modules in theory and in practice; from rough diamond evaluation to diamond grading and polishing for Batswana, at no cost for eight weeks. The internationally- recognized certificate offered in partnership with Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Training School presents invaluable opportunities for Batswana to access in the diamond industry locally and internationally. The initiative is an extension of our Corporate Social Investment to the community in which we operate,” said Vishal Shah, Stargems Group Managing Director, during the launch of the Stargems Diamond Training Center.
In order to participate in this rare opportunity, interested candidates are invited to submit a police clearance certificate and a BGCSE certificate only to the Stargems offices. Students who excel in these programs will have the chance to be onboarded by the Stargems Group. This serves as motivation for them to go through this training with a high level of seriousness.
“Community empowerment is one of our CSR principles. We believe that businesses can only thrive when their communities are well taken of. We are hoping that our presence will be impactful to various communities and economies. In the six countries that we are operating in, we have contributed through dedicating 10% of our revenues during COVID-19 to facilitate education, donating to hospitals and also to NGOs committed to supporting women and children living with HIV. One key issue that we are targeting in Botswana is the rate of unemployment amongst the youth. We are looking forward to working closely with the government and other relevant authorities to curb unemployment,” said Shah.
Currently, Stargems Group has employed 117 Batswana and they are looking forward to growing the numbers to 500 as the company grows. Majority of the employees will be graduates from the Stargems Diamond Training Center. This initiation has been received with open arms by the general public and stakeholders. During the launch, the Minister of Minerals and Energy, Honorable Lefoko Moagi, stated that the ministry fully endorses Stargems Diamond Training and will work closely with the Group to support and grow the initiative.
“As a ministry, we see this as an game changer that is aligned with one of the United Nations’ Six Priority Sustainable Development Goals, which is to Advance Opportunity and Impact for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). What Stargems Group is launching today will have a huge impact on the creation of employment in Botswana. An economy’s productivity rises as the number of educated workers increases as its skilled workmanship increases. It is not a secret that low skills perpetuate poverty and widen the inequality gap, therefore the development of skills has the potential to contribute significantly to structural transformation and economic growth by enhancing employability and helping the country become more competitive. We are grateful to see the emergence of industry players such as Stargems Group who have strived to create such opportunities that mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19 on the economy,” said the Minister of Minerals and Energy.
Food import bill slightly declines
The latest figures released by Statistics Botswana this week shows that food import bill for Botswana slightly declined from around P1.1 billion in November 2022 to around P981 million in December during the same year.
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