-- Posted 28 September, 2007 | | Discuss This Article - Comments:
The Silver Forecaster - 28th September 2007
Below is a snippet from the last week’s issue from www.SilverForecaster.com which covers Platinum and Platinum shares as well
Mr. Mugabe has a long history of destroying the country’s assets. It started with him forcing Zimbabwe banks [such as Grindley’s] holding foreign investments on behalf of Zimbabweans [in nominee names], to hand them over to the government in exchange for 4% government bonds [that was in 1983]. That resulted in the termination of direct private foreign investments to Zimbabwe. Next came the white owned farmland, which confiscations led to Zimbabwe changing from the breadbasket of Africa to a country unable to grow its own food and starvation staring many of them in the face.
It is always difficult for those not familiar with the realities of African politics and administration to fathom the thinking behind such actions. Essentially, African nations believe that the chief owns everything and as a father to the tribe he will look after their interests. Being the strongest he should control everything and get his people’s undying support no matter what he decides. Such has been the situation with Mugabe [remember Dr Banda, Mobutu Sese Seko, Idi Amin, etc] in Zimbabwe and explains just why U.D.I. happened. So he believes that he is a good influence on the nation and will ensure his people throw off all vestiges of colonial rule. Sadly this includes, not only farmland, but also businesses, and now the mining sector. The passing of the new mining law requiring that indigenous Zimbabweans [not white ones] own 51% of the mines confirms that view.
With Mugabe backed by his Parliament a new day has dawned in the mining sector. It follows the turpitude of governance that is now the set pattern of the country and particularly Mugabe. We have absolutely no reason to believe that he will change in this matter either, despite agreements he has made before.
You see, a fixed value on the African continent is that it is the decision of the day that stands, not yesterday. As developed nation thinkers we set great store by the written agreement. It rules Presidents, governments and stands solid in the courts. But in that part of the world it is only “something that was written”. It can be changed the next day. The chief’s decision in that moment rules!
So we turn to the dilemma of the Platinum mines in Zimbabwe again in the face f the new decision and the chief’s word. Will Mugabe stick to his agreement, in writing, after the mines complied with Mugabe’s previous rules? It would be convenient for the President to say he must bow to this new decision by Parliament, so he must change too?
What’s at stake here? We quote from Jon Jones [R.I.] here: -
Zimbabwe’s Great Dyke contains the second largest platinum resources in the world behind South Africa’s Bushveld Complex, estimated at over 3.05 billion tonnes. Both regions account for 97.5% of the world’s known platinum resources.
Johnson Matthey’s “Platinum 2007” estimates platinum demand will total around 7.02 million ounces this year - only 20,000 ounces above a supply of 7 million ounces. With such a tight market, any disruption at all could hinder much needed supply.
The world’s second largest platinum miner, Impala Platinum [OTCPK:IMPUY], has nearly half of its total mineral resources in the Great Dyke, held under its subsidiary Zimplats [ASX:ZIM].
The company holds an agreement with the Zimbabwe government executed in the past year, giving them defined mining rights. David Brown, CEO of Implats [not to be confused with Prime Minister Brown of England who refuses to even attend a conference where President Mugabe may be present] told the world that agreements already in place will be taken into account when looking at the overall compliance.
Ø In 2006, the Impala’s Ngezi produced about 90,000 ounces of platinum. The company now plans to increase production to over 150,000 ounces of platinum per annum, which will involved the construction of two new underground sections and will cost an estimated $258 million.
Ø Implats’ Mimosa JV is the oldest platinum mine in the country and among the lowest-cost producers in the world. Total annual production comes to about 85,000 ounces, with ownership split 50:50 between Impala Platinum and Aquarius Platinum [LSE:AQP].
Ø Anglo Platinum Ltd. [JSE:AMS], the world’s largest platinum producer, is developing the Unki project due to come into production in 2008. The mine will produce concentrate containing some 58,000 ounces of refined platinum per annum at full capacity. The total project cost is estimated at some $90 million.
Impala believes it has security of tenure to produce at least 1 million oz/year of platinum from its Zimbabwean operations for 50 years. Impala, which has an 87% stake in Zimplats, said an agreement it signed with the Zimbabwean government in May 2006 would be taken into account when looking at its overall compliance.
In terms of the agreement, Zimplats agreed to sell a third of its mineral resources in return for 19.5% localization ‘credits’ and $51m in cash, or 29.25% if no cash was received. David Brown, Impala Platinum CEO, confirmed no cash had been received from the Zimbabwean government. These credits excluded others it would receive for spending on development. Impala rightly protests, “We built a 77km road and invested in housing and schools in Zimbabwe……We have an agreement!” said Brown. Impala now waits in a queue with the other Platinum miners for the final word from government.
Will the agreement stand above the new law? The draft legislation on which the new law has been enacted has no provision for previous deals. “At this juncture, although it's early days in terms of the negotiations, there appears to be no provision for empowerment credits for social and infrastructure spending in the draft bill and this is of serious concern to Zimplats in view of our agreement with the government,” Impala said in a letter to shareholders in August. Mr. Brown said he had not seen the enacted legislation so could not say if it differed from the draft legislation.
Impala is still pumping investment into Zimbabwe. The phase 1 expansion at Zimplats is “well underway” with combined full production of 160,000 oz/year expected by 2010 at a cost of about R3bn. As a 51% owner, it would have to follow its investment obligations in respect of expansions Zimplats undertook.
President Mugabe has a personal dilemma. Can he extract more wealth by grabbing the mines now and ignoring what’s left of his name in the financial world, while pleasing his followers in the top echelons of Zimbabwe society? After all he can’t pay for any part of the mines. Or will he make more by keeping his agreements with the mines? Logic and Western values tell us keep the goose while it’s laying eggs, then kill it, unless a very visible reward can be found in feeding the goose and taking the eggs only? But this is Africa!
As to the Investors money there? If the law is fully enacted, it will mean that control over that money will pass to the Zimbabwe government and every $invested will only be worth 49cents, at best.