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Government To Spend Shs25bn On Minerals Lab

The Ministry Of Energy And Mineral Development is expediting a directive from President Yoweri Museveni requiring that they equip the mineral subsector with a modern laboratory to test, qualify mineral presence and determine its quality.

Speaking at the Ministry Of Energy And Mineral Development Joint Sector Review meeting at Speke Resort Munyonyo on Thursday, the minister Irene Muloni said they are progressing well. She revealed that they have repaired some of the old equipment and they are functional.

“We need the state of the art laboratory to be able to test the sample mineral that we pick from those areas. We need to assess the quality of those minerals, the percentage of this mineral contained in the ore so that further development can be carried out.

The laboratory that we currently have in Entebbe has some equipment which we have repaired. The ministry of finance allocated us Shs1bn to have the equipment repaired but in a period of three years, we should be able to have an ultra-modern laboratory."

The permanent secretary Robert Kasande said that for the midterm, they have budgeted Shs25bn to have the laboratory at its best. The lack of the lab has been a hitch for the mining sector as mining investors had to take mineral samples out of the country to do necessary testing.

No with own laboratory, Muloni said this will give them some sort of independence. Uganda has over 50 different minerals including rare earth minerals that the government and private sector have shown interest to explore and produce.

The other two president’s directives concerning the miing subsector are to register artisanal miners and build capacity of small scale miners and to ensure that commercially exploited minerals are declared for export through formal channels.

Indeed the ministry has moved to act on artisanal miners. Recently the ministry evicted miners from the Mubende Gold Mines leaving over 60000 gold miners stranded. The Minister speaking at Joint Sector Review said they are going to other mining camps to sensitize them and help them formalize their operations.

More Artisanal Miners Across The Country To Be Evicted

There is a big chance that hundreds of artisanal miners across the country will be evicted from their respective mining camps by government if they don’t formalize their operations by creating associations or working groups.

The minster for energy and mineral development, Irene Muloni, said at the ministry’s Joint Sector Review meeting being at Speke Resort Munyonyo that they won’t work with miners who are illegal and disorganized.

On 4th August, 2017, government deployed Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) and Police officers who evicted gold miners in Mubende. This time the ministry is engaging miners in Namayingo, Buhweju, Karamoja and other places.

Going by examples of places named, it looks like gold miners are targeted.

“You recognize that minerals are a wealth in this country. It belongs to all of us. We want to tap into these minerals and generate revenue for the country and improve our lives,” the minister said.

“We want to mine these minerals and add value. Gold occurs widely in this country. We want our ordinary Ugandans to participate in mining in a way that is legal so that we can track gold produced and how much revenue we can get,”

“These miners are not licensed and are using crude methods including using mercury and cyanide. They dig pits without caring about their lives. We are going to sensitize them about safety methods of mining that are not harmful to them and environment,”

The minister who spoke at this year’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development Joint Sector Review welcomed artisanal miners and small-scale miners to organize themselves so that they are given location license.

The minister revealed that the investor manning the Mubende gold mines offered 10sqkms to artisanal miners. The land is going to be demarcated and allocated to three miners associations out of the five who were formed during the time they were being told to vacate and relocate.

Muloni said evicting Mubende miners was necessary because of the dangers these miners had exposed themselves to. “We also had foreigners mining Ugandan resources,” she said. At least 172 foreigners, according to the minister, were operating in Mubende.

One of the issues that come up during engagements between government and artisanal miners is miners lack money to invest in technology required. However the minister said they will try to build their capacities once they form association.

Uganda is home to over 50 minerals however only eight percent of the country has been surveyed. The other twenty percent, which is largely the Karamoja region, was not surveyed because of security reasons.

The private sector during the recently held Mineral Wealth Conference organized by Uganda Chamber of Miners and Petroleum asked the finance minister Matia Kasaija to avail USD20m so that Karamoja is surveyed.

Kasaija asked them to put their request in writing so that it can be considered in the subsequent budgets.

Every year, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and industry stakeholders meet to review and assess the ministry’s overall performance and progress of planned undertakings in the previous financial year.

We Need To Make Uganda A Mining Country – Chamber Of Mines

The Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum (UCMP) chairperson Elly Karuhanga has emphasized the need to make Uganda a mining hub so that it can transform into a middle income country, a target the current regime of President Yoweri Museveni is aiming at. 

Karuhanga was exclusively speaking to journalists ahead of this year’s annual Mineral Wealth Conference (MWC), to be held on October 4th and 5th, 2017, at Kampala Serena Hotel under the theme “Minerals – “Knocking on the door to cause economic transformation in Uganda.” 

“We need to make Uganda a mining country so that when you mention Uganda anywhere in the globe, they say oh that mineral rich country that is exporting a lot of minerals,” Karuhanga said enthusiastically.

“Yes, we are known as an agricultural country, fantastic, I love it, even hearing it feels good, but suppose we become an agricultural country and mining country and oil and gas country and a tourism destination country, this generation will be so happy,”

He said the Chamber was formed ‘to propagate and sensitize the people of Uganda and international community to take interest in Uganda’s minerals and exploit them together with foreigners and amongst ourselves.’

He also emphasized the need to enable investors to carry out exploration works in the country to establish the amount of mineral resources in the country. He explained that the country is putting in place the necessary laws, policies and regulations to manage the mining sector.

This year’s mineral wealth conference is looking at opening up Uganda for business. About 1000 guests are expected to attend. Sponsors of the conference have lined international speakers from governments and the private sectors

Turf Year For South African Miners But Stakeholders Are Optimistic

The year 2017 was another challenging year for South Africa's mining industry in light of a decrease in dividends and market capitalisation, various retrenchments across the industry, and marginal increases in taxes paid.

However, spot price increases for bulk commodities supported the industry and resulted in a return to profitability after the first substantial increase in revenues in five years. These are some of the highlights from PwC's ninth edition of SA Mine, a series of publications that highlights trends in the South African mining industry released by PwC last week. 

Michal Kotzé, PwC Africa Energy Utilities & Resources Leader, says: "The 2017 year can be described as a year of policy uncertainty and real questions over the long-term sustainability of the industry." 

"After the price lows of December 2015 and January 2016, the current year saw USD prices recover for most commodities with the exception of platinum. Although some USD price gains were offset by a stronger rand, the improved prices did bring the industry as a whole back into profitability." 

Despite an improvement in the financial performance of the industry, regulatory announcements in June 2017 resulted in market capitalisation dropping to June 2015 levels.

A subsequent recovery at the end of August was aided by improved USD prices and hope by investors that the suspended new Mining Charter would be revised before final implementation. In this edition, we have also included a brief look at the regulatory changes in Nigeria, the DRC and Tanzania.

Market capitalisation 

The 2017 financial year saw a decrease in the market capitalisation of the companies analysed to almost the low levels of 2015. The market capitalisation of the 29 companies analysed in this report decreased to R420 billion, a 25% decline from R560 billion as at 30 June 2016. Market capitalisation recovered somewhat to R506 billion as at 31 August 2017 on the hope that there would be an amicable solution between the industry and the regulator. 

Contribution by commodity 

Coal maintained its strong position as the leading South African mining commodity revenue generator. Despite its percentage of revenue generated remaining unchanged at 27%, it increased total revenue to R119 billion from the prior year's R105 billion.

Platinum group metals' (PGMs) share of total revenue decreased to 22% from 24% as total PGM revenue decreased by R2 billion to R94 billion. Gold's share of mining revenue decreased to 16% from the 18% in 2016. In contrast, iron ore's share increased to 11% from 9% due to a R10 billion increase in revenue. 

Financial performance 

Revenue increased by 13% (R43 billion) from the prior year. "It is notable that this is the first substantial increase in more than five years," says Andries Rossouw, PwC Assurance Partner. 

The gold companies' revenue increased by 17% (R23 billion) due to improvements in USD gold prices and a weaker rand for most of the reporting period. The platinum companies have seen revenue increases by 4% from the prior year on the back of improved platinum prices for parts of the year. 

Operating expenses increased by R13 billion, which is a 5% increase from the prior year. Continued low commodity prices have resulted in another year with significant impairments in the industry, with a total of R22 billion in impairment provisions. More than R100 billion was impaired over the last three years, more than wiping out the last two years of capital expenditure in the industry. 

After last year's net loss the companies in this year's analysis are back into a net profit position due to lower impairments. The EBITDA margin of 26% is 6% higher than the previous year.

"It is encouraging that all commodities improved their EBITDA margins. However, the low platinum EBITDA margin (12%) is still a significant concern and threatens the sustainability of a number of operations," Rossouw adds. 

Labour still accounts for the majority of mining companies' costs, accounting for approximately 44%. Labour costs increased by 4.5% which was marginally below inflation. 

Integrating risk into business strategy 

In the last number of years we have not seen a significant change in the risks identified by mining companies. These include: volatile commodity prices and foreign exchange fluctuations; the regulatory, political and legal environment; socio economic environment around mines; sustainable business plans or budgets; labour relations; operating costs; reliance on third-party infrastructure; employee safety and health; liquidity and capital management; and compliance with environmental standards.

In 2017, the risks have remained relatively consistent with three companies also including cybersecurity and its consequences as a risk. 

Safety in mines 

According to safety statistics, the level of safety has improved substantially in the industry, with fewer fatalities reported over the past 10 years. This is indicative of investments made by mining companies in safety initiatives. 

Value to investors in the mining sector 

The mining industry continues to add value to all its stakeholders. As reported in company value added statements, employees still take the lion's share of value added at 40%, followed by the Government through direct taxes, payroll and royalties with 19%. It is disappointing to note that shareholders got only 2% in the form of distributions. 

Adoption of emerging technologies in the mining industry 

Technological advancements have spurred innovation and new ideas in the mining industry. A number of mining companies have adopted emerging technologies. The use of remotely-piloted as well as autonomous drones to survey opencast mines is a common example of the adoption of emerging technology. Mines are also using autonomous drilling, proximity devices, collision awareness systems for mine vehicles and trucks, cloud and mobility solutions. 

Illegal mining activities 

The value of illegal mining and dealing of metals and diamonds in South Africa is estimated to be more than R7 billion per year. The South African gold sector has been the most adversely impacted by illegal mining within the industry, according to the companies included in our study.

The Chamber of Mines has emphasized the need for mining houses, the DMR and the South African Police Service to work together at every level of illegal mining activity from individuals working underground to the large syndicates that organise activity and sell the end product. 

Mining in Africa 

The DRC 

The growth in the DRC mining sector since 2002 has been facilitated by the commodities boom, attractive tax and customs incentives, greater stability and an improved regulatory environment. By the end of 2016, 482 companies held mining rights, compared to 35 in 2002. The production of copper amounted to 1.035 billion tons at the end of 2016 versus 27 259 tons in 2002. Cobalt production achieved 69 038 tons at the end of 2016, versus 11 865 tons in 2002. 

Nigeria 

Despite various challenges the Government has taken a number of steps to make the mining sector more attractive for investment by putting in place clear regulatory policies and operationalising existing ones. There are still a number of challenges in the sector ranging from insufficient infrastructure as well as regulatory conflicts. The Nigerian mining sector realises it needs to align itself with world trends and norms, especially around the future demand for various minerals. 

Tanzania 

In 2016, the Tanzanian Government introduced fundamental changes to the income tax regime for the extractive sector. June 2017 saw significant changes for the sector, even more fundamental than the 2016 changes. The broad objective of the new legislation is to seek to obtain a higher return to Tanzania from its natural resources.

Chamber Wants Minerals To Drive Uganda's Economic Transformation

The theme for this year’s annual Mineral Wealth Conference (MWC), to be on October 4th and 5th, 2017, at Kampala Serena Hotel, speaks out the organizers desires to see to it that Uganda’s minerals play a role in the country’s economic transformation.

The theme for the 6th Mineral Wealth Conference organized by Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum (UCMP) in partnership with the Ministry of Energy & Mineral Development is “Minerals – “Knocking on the door to cause economic transformation in Uganda.”

“In previous forums, our focus was mainly on showcasing Uganda’s mineral potential, advocating for value addition and attracting exploration investment. This was all geared towards creating a conducive and favorable environment in the mining sector,” says Dr Elly Karuhanga, the Chairman, UCMP.

 “We feel the time is now for Uganda to start earning significant revenues from its natural resources. Fortunately, our patron President Yoweri Museveni, who has always advocated for the addition of value to our minerals, will be in attendance to lend his significant weight to this drive.”

Uganda enjoys a wealth of mineral deposits including gold, vermiculite, copper, graphite, iron ore, tin, tantalite, tungsten, nickel, platinum, graphite, limestone, phosphates, clays with rare earth elements just to mention but a few.

Some of these resources, like the vermiculite in Eastern Uganda, which competes favourably with South Africa's in both quality and quantity, are world class deposits. However, they have not been fully exploited mainly because extensive exploration countrywide has not happened yet.

A 2015 Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) report noted a 6.3 percent increase in the total value of selected minerals produced, growing from Ushs158bn in 2013 to Ushs168bn in 2014.

These numbers though, are significantly low. Industry watchers for instance believe that the right support can see Uganda easily become the world's leading vermiculite producer within the next 5 to 10 years.

With the mining policy and laws undergoing a review to match the private sector needs, stakeholders are optimistic that this potential will soon be realised.

The annual MWC is East Africa’s flagship mining convention; playing a significant role in highlighting the huge untapped mining potential of Uganda and the region.

The conference will attract expert speakers and over 450 delegates from across the globe including South Africa, West Africa, the USA, Canada, China, the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, Belgium, the African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC), the World Bank and the African Development Bank amongst others.

To be held at the Kampala Serena Hotel, an entry pass is going for $300 for nationals and $500 for international delegates. The forum will also include an exhibition on the sidelines with booths going for $1,000.

A diverse mix of delegates is expected to attend led by mining stakeholders, drawn from the private and public spheres, development partners, financial institutions, insurers, academicians, lawyers, logisticians, energy and construction companies amongst others.

Mr. Robert Kasande, the new Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Dr. Kabagambe-Kaliisa, a senior presidential advisor on oil and gas and minerals and Mr Edwards Katto, the Director, Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines, will be among the speakers at the October conference.

No Light At End Of The Tunnel For Mubende Artisanal Gold Miners

On 4th August, 2017, hundreds of Uganda Police Force and Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) officers armed for war descended on villages in Sub Counties of Kitumbi and Bukuya in Mubende district with express instructions to evict and put an end to activities of small scale gold miners in the district.

The orders were issued by government through the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and the Directorate of Immigration. The soldiers and police officers have not left the mines, a month later. The Mining Act and Policy and related land laws don’t favor miners, some of whom used to own land in the gold rich area now being occupied by security forces. The laws of Uganda state that minerals belong to government.

Former ministry of Energy and Mineral Development Permanent Secretary Stephen Isabalija, before being fired last month, said evicting miners was necessary to stop illegal mining, environmental degradation, crime and to restore order for a regulated mining business. The Immigration Department was supposed to deal with foreign illegal miners.

A tractor erases what used to be homes to thousands of artisanal miners in Mubende

The presence of soldiers and police lurking is felt moment you enter Lujinji village in Kitunbi Sub County. They have condoned off the mines and made them inaccessible for any mining business apart for a licensed ‘mzungu’ investor who occupies mines on a hill hundreds of meters away from the Lujinji mines.

Security forces commanded by Col Joseph Balikuddembe, the UPDF 1st Division commander evicted about 60, 000 artisanal gold miners and dealers occupying Kampala, Mukapya, Mukikade, Mukabada, Ewalukwago, Lubaali and Kamusenene gold mines. They proceeded to erase houses that were providing shelter to miners.

Gold Mining In Mubende

The actions of government have burned out the candle of hundreds of artisanal miners who depended on Mubende. The contingent of miners in Mubende came from almost all parts of Uganda once it was known in 2008 that the district which was predominantly agrobased had huge commercial deposits of gold. Even President Yoweri Museveni encouraged them to dig up the mineral when he was on a campaign trail. 

Gold in Mubende attracted experienced artisanal miners from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya and other countries to come and make a kill. The experience brought by foreign artisanal gold miners made gold extraction easy. Money started to flow, endlessly.

The more gold that was extracted from Mubende and the more money that was being made increased the more government got aware and interested. Government's first worry was the high number of unregistered foreign miners extracting and selling Ugandan gold but not paying taxes to government despite making loads of money. This influx, according to government officials, influenced the decision to evict the miners.

Numerous negotiations between miners and government over the years have yielded no positive result for miners who knew they were living on borrowed time and that it would soon be depleted and they would be evicted.

Zziwa Edward Amooti Birungi, the Deputy Chairperson Mubende District Local Council said in an interview last week said government then laid a strategy to evict all these foreign miners so that they can go back to their countries.

A police officer shows reporter the list of people who still have properties they are going to pick

The eviction didn’t spare Ugandans too as everyone was asked to vacate the mining camps and return to wherever they came from. Indigenous residents of Mubende district were evicted from the mining camp too and not allowed to return to the camp but remain in their homes and to also find other jobs.

While foreigners could run back to their countries, hundreds of Ugandans were left jobless and with shuttered lives as Josephine Bashaba, 32, married and a mother of four children explains.

 “I couldn’t fail to get food, school fees and money to take my children to hospital whenever they fell sick. God had blessed us,” Bashaba, who used to own various gold pits and rental houses, narrates revealing that the lowest amount she could make a day was Shs50, 000.

“MPs have told us that the mines will be opened but seeing what is happening, it will not be so we are planning to go back to our villages.” a withdrawn Bashaba, who migrated from Masaka district, southern Uganda, to make the gold gifted Mubende her home said. She was looking for anything of value in the ruins of what used to be her work station demolished by the army.

Joblessness, Crimes Looms Over Mubende

Zziwa, also Mubende district secretary for production, marketing and natural resources explained during a visit to his office by journalists coordinated by Global Rights Alert, an NGO working to promote good governance of Uganda's natural resources, said that mines offered employment to youth who now are now idle and might turn to crime to survive.

Gold mines lie flat after the pits were covered by UPDF officers

“Many people were jobless but went to be employed in the mines. Because of the mines they were able to take care of their families. Now, after the evictions, people are loitering everywhere doing nothing yet some had been evicted from their land.” zziwa stated.

Munir Kiryowa who works as Community Based Monitor for Global Rights Alert (GRA) shares Zziwa’s concerns. “Some former miners are still here idle; they might even start stealing and robbing people. Reports of missing motorcycles are beginning to emerge,” Kiryowa, also working with police as a crime preventer, said adding that people came from as far away as Busia in eastern Uganda, Mbarara, Ntugamo in southern Uganda to work in the mines.

He explained that jobs and businesses were lost and that people lost their property because they were not given enough time to move away. Gold buyers licensed by government had SACCOS and Kiryowa reveals that they were not given time to collect money from their clients who were working in the mines.

Matters are not any better for Alex Ssentale who was born in Lujinji village. He supplied food, water and other services to the miners in Lujinji. Ssentale, who dropped out of school in primary two, and now is 27 years old, has no skill to enable him get a job. His only source of money to take care of his young family has been the mines which are no more.

"We welcomed people in this village and we were happy to sell them our food and other things they demanded as they worked in the mines, survival was easy but now we are doomed as you can see,”

Kiryowa explaining how gold pits (holes) are dug and explaining how rocks that have gold look like

We had not prepared for this, he says, explaining that they had not prepared their gardens for the planting season because they were earning a living from the gold mines. “We feel bad but we have nothing to do,” a lamenting Ssentale says.

Like the case is for most mining communities, children find themselves offering cheap labor to support their families. Paul Byakatonda who studies at Victoria Primary School in P2, he looks 11 or 12 years, visibly old for his class, has been a sweeper in the mines. A venture which earned him averagely Shs20, 000 per day; money she used to buy books and pay school fee since his father, a miner, had abandoned the family.

He had saved some money and bought a pig, making him one of the youngest prospecting entrepreneur farmers in the village, now his source of income was erased shattering his baby dreams.

Martin Lubega, 25, and a senior four dropout was another miner affected by the evictions despite investing about Shs40m in the mining business together with his five friends. He says he lost the money just like all other miners who were evicted.

We didn’t rescue anything; he utters the words with sadness explaining that they have been a family in the business of mining gold. “Some people sold their land and cattle or acquired loans from banks and money lenders to invest in the mines. We don’t want government help anymore; they are the same people who are making us cry.”

Byakatonda has been earning Shs20, 000 a day, now he won't

Like Lubega, Sula Kisungula, who was tipsy in the afternoon sun, lost everything, looks dejected and hopeless. He probably finds solace in taking alcohol since he has a lot of time and idle. Kisungula blamed leaders of associations they had created for conniving with government to hoodwink them. ‘They should have warned us.” he laments saying they have nothing left.

Dirisa Ssenyonyo has however not lost all the hope, he now wants government to give a small part of the mines to small scale miners and tax them so that they can continue with their business alongside the heavy moneyed investors.

One of the many mothers whose life depended on the mines Jalia Mbabazi noted that she has never seen what was done the day the army and police stormed the village to drive miners out of the mines.

She blames the leaders of Mubende because ‘they were notified but they didn’t tell us so government thought that we had refused to vacate the mines. If they had notified us, we would have saved some of our properties.

UPDF Protecting Uganda’s Minerals

Lt Col. James Kasule, Uganda People’s Defense Forces operation commander, whom we found at the camp in his brief to the journalists who visited the mines said they came to evict people from the illegal mining area to prepare way for those licensed to come and do business.

UPDF officers seen inside one of the now former mining camp

"We are here to protect minerals of Uganda which was being stolen by foreigners. By the time we came, political leadership and other authorities had done the talking and all negotiations. We can’t be blamed for being here and protect the minerals of Ugandans.

The operation to drive out the artisanal gold miners was a joint operation with Uganda Police. SP Alex Muhumuza of Uganda Police Force in his brief said the miners 'knew they are here illegally and temporary that is why you see no permanent structures'.

"As security organs, we have no problem with any Ugandan or foreigner who come here in Uganda legally. We are here to protect them. Our coming here was in phases involving local government and parliament and guided by the law.

Over 70 foreigners were arrested and imprisoned for illegally dealing in gold. Muhumuza says Ugandans were dealing in petty businesses while foreigners were taking gold illegally.

One of the high tech motorized gold processing machine used by foreign miners in Mubende

The officers denied allegations that they mistreated people when evicting them. While many people we talked to said they were not harassed by the soldier, one youth should journalists wounds he claims were inflicted on him the soldiers. Earthfinds couldn’t verify the claims.

President Museveni long time friend and former bush war hero Ms Gertrude Njuba, a former employee of State House reportedly owns 8 square Miles of land in Mubende gold mines and has interests in the AUC Mining and Gemstone International Ltd,the two companies having explicit interests in Mubende Gold. The Energy ministry is not clear on who owns the licences for the Mubende mines.

Dangote Cement Records 12.6% Sales Volume Increase Across Africa

Dangote Cement, Africa’s largest cement producer, has announced its unaudited results for the six months ended 30th June 2017, posting a 12.6 percent increase in sales volume across Africa. 

In the financials released on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange indicated that the increase in sales volume showed a growing capture of Pan-African market as Dangote Cement continues to gain grounds.

Revenues from operations in Nigeria increased by 34.5 percent  to ₦291.4 billion while Pan-Africa revenue increased by 63.7 percent to ₦124.4B from ₦76.0B mainly as a result of increased volumes and foreign exchange gains when converting the sales from country local currency into Naira.

Analysis of the half year result revealed that sales volumes of African operations increased by 12.6 percent to 4.7 million metric tons with Sierra Leone making a   53 kt maiden contribution.

Record of sales from its operations scattered around the African continent revealed that a total of 1.1million ‘metric tons of cement was sold in Ethiopia, almost 0.7 million metric tons sold in Senegal, 0.6 million metric tons sold in Cameroon, and 0.5 million tons in Ghana.

Also, 0.4 million metric tons of cement was sold in Tanzania and 0.3 million tons in Zambia. Sales volumes from Nigerian operations fell from 8.8Mt to 6.9Mt, occasioned by the onset of rains which stalled many construction projects.

Reflecting on the half year results, Dangote Cement’s Chief Executive Officer, Onne van der Weijde expressed satisfaction that the company’s revenues have continued to grow despite low sales from the Nigerian operations noting that the revenues grew on the strength of sales from other African operations.

Said he: “Our revenues have continued to grow despite the lower volumes seen in Nigeria, especially because of the recent heavy rains. Our margins have improved significantly, helped by improved efficiencies and a much better fuel mix in Nigeria.

“We are using much more gas and increasing our use of coal mined in Nigeria, thus reducing our need for foreign currency and supporting Nigerian jobs.

”Our Pan-African operations are growing well and increasing market share. We saw our the first sales from Sierra Leone in the first quarter and our new plant in the Republic of Congo will be in production at the end of July, further increasing our footprint across Africa and strengthening our position as its leading manufacturer of cement.”

The Company reports that it estimated that Nigeria’s total market for cement was 10.2 million tonnes (Mt), 23.2% lower than the estimated 13.3Mt sold in Nigeria in the first half of 2016. Of total market sales in the first half of 2017, just 0.1Mt was imported. 

“As a result of the slower market, our Nigeria operation sold nearly 6.9Mt of cement, down 21.8% on the 8.8Mt sold in the first half of 2016. We estimate our market share to have been about 64.5% during the first six months of 2017.   

Dangote Cement is a high-growth, low-debt, internationally diversified company that has just paid a dividend amounting to nearly 75% of 2016 net profits to shareholders.

“The recent publication of our credit ratings highlights the financial strength we have achieved through our unwavering focus on the profitable expansion of the business, underpinned by our belief that we must remain prudent in our financial management.”, Mr. Weijde stated.

Nigeria Gets $1.5bn Nitrogenous Fertilizer Plant

Nigeria’s acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, Thursday in Port Harcourt inaugurated a giant world-class fertilizer plant, built by Indorama Eleme Fertilizer and Chemicals Limited at the cost of $1.5 billion. 

The acting President used the opportunity to remind all Nigerians that time has come for them to grow whatever they eat and produce whatever they consume.

“What Indorama is accomplishing today is very much in line with President Buhari’s vision for a country that produces what it consumes and grows what it eats. If you had to sum up our vision for the Nigerian economy in a few words, these would suffice. Grow what we eat, produce what we consume,” he said.

Prof Osinbajo commended Indorama for keying into the Presidential Fertilizer initiative which President Buhari launched last year to make fertilizers cheaper nationwide.

“At the end of last year, the President launched a Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, to ensure the availability of cheaper fertilizer to our farmers, to support what we’re doing in agriculture, in the production of rice and wheat and other staples.

“That Fertilizer Initiative, now well underway, has created significant economic opportunities for companies like Indorama Eleme Fertilizer & Chemicals Limited.

“I have been informed that Indorama will this year alone supply about 360,000 Metric Tons of Urea to Fertilizer blenders, which, in turn, will produce NPK fertilizer for the benefit of farmers across the country.

“This is the kind of economic progress we’re after, in which every unlocked opportunity proceeds to unlock several others, across multiple sectors of the economy.”

The acting President said that the Buhari administration will continue to support Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals Limited, which was privatised in 2006 by the Federal Government.

“We will continue to support Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals Limited’s expansion ambitions. Our commitment to the privatisation programme is equally assured, and we will continue to do everything to support investors to maximise the potential of their assets,” he said.

Earlier in his address, the Chairman of Indorama Corporation, Mr Sri Prakash Lohia said that the plant which has capacity to produce 1.5 million metric tons of fertilizer per annum is the largest single-train Urea plant in the world.

The Acting President also presented a Certificate of Discharge to the Chairman of Indorama Group, Mr Lohia and the Managing Director, Mr Manish Mundra for successfully accomplishing the post purchase agreement entered into with the Bureau of Public Enterprises on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“Following the 2006 handover, the BPE carried out routine monitoring on the enterprise to ensure that the core investor adhered to and implemented the post-acquisition plan it had laid out for the company.”

“Today is the culmination of that process of monitoring and oversight by the BPE. I am delighted that it is taking place on an inspiring and hopeful note, and that we are all here today celebrating a thriving and promising company. We should not take this state of affairs for granted,” he said.

The Plant has a production capacity of 4000 metric tons (MT) of nitrogenous fertilizers per day or 1.5 MT per annum. The world-scale plant has been built with an investment of USD 1.5 billion, a huge Foreign Direct Investment, funded by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and a Consortium of 15 European and African banks and Financial Institutions.

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, in his speech said that for Indorama to invest a whopping $1.5 billion in the state, it shows that the state is safe for investors and their investments. He called on other investors to emulate the footsteps of Indorama.

The fertilizer plant is well supported by Port Terminal at the nearby Onne Port Complex, and a Gas Pipeline of 83.5KM for gas supply.

The plant will bring about a green revolution in the agriculture sector not only in Nigeria but also in other parts of Africa and world at large.

Besides, making the fertilizer products to be available at affordable cost, the plant will boost crop yield to farmers and greatly help in minimizing the food grain deficit in Nigeria.

The plant has also generated lots of job opportunities contributing to the economic prosperity of Nigeria.

The construction of the plant commenced in April 2013 and completed in December 2015. The commissioning activities were concluded in March 2016 and the commercial production started in June 2016.

 

Iran Investors Target Uganda's Oil, Minerals

The Islamic Revolution Mostazafan Foundation has expressed serious interest in investing in various projects in Uganda including the petroleum and mining sectors, a statement released by Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum stated.

A three man delegation led by Manoochehr Khajel-Daloul, the Foundations deputy for construction recently paid a courtesy call to the Chamber. A number of investment opportunities in the extractives sectors were shared by Elly Karuhanga, the chairman of the Chamber.

"With Uganda targeting first oil in 2020, opportunities in the oil and gas sector are immense. Apart from the two critical projects, the refinery and pipeline, more support infrastructure like roads, railways and energy projects are in the offing," he said.

He added that other opportunities are in the logistics, foods and beverages, finance, security, human resource, waste management and crane services.

"At least up to $20bn is expected to be invested in Uganda to help the oil industry to take off smoothly.

Mostazafan Foundation is the second largest enterprise in Iran, second only to the National Oil Company. The Foundation is composed of eleven holdings controlling 150 companies which are spread across different sectors globally.

Karuhanga invited the Mostazafan Foundation to consider UCMP as a viable partner that would introduce them to sustainable and geniune openings in the oil and gas and mining sectors.

The Iranian delegation according to the statement was interested in knowing government's investment vision in the oil and mining sectors, the kind of incentives ono offer, licensing durations, revenue sharing options, among other issues.

Jeweller Completes First Export of Conflict-Free DRC Gold

Partnership Africa Canada and Fair Trade Jewellery Co. on Monday announced the first export of conflict-free and traceable artisanal gold from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Canada.

The milestone comes a month after Partnership Africa Canada announced the Just Gold project had implemented a system to trace legal and conflict-free artisanal gold in DRC, with a proven chain of custody from mine site to exporter.

Fair Trade Jewellery Co., a Toronto-based pioneer in ethical sourcing, sustainability and retail, imported 238 grams in three gold doré bars to Canada.

Within days, the Toronto team refined, alloyed and designed four responsibly-mined and conflict-free artisanal gold rings. Each ring has been engraved with a lot number, which traces it to a specific mine site in the DRC’s Ituri Province, where the gold originated.

“Sourcing from Congo was a new and exceptionally ambitious process, but one to which our organization is committed to and capable of achieving thanks to partners on the ground, like Partnership Africa Canada,” said Robin Gambhir, Fair Trade Jewellery Co. co-founder.

“After more than a decade of ensuring that our materials are responsibly-sourced, we’re delighted to add Just Gold to the gold options we currently offer our clients. Ensuring we source fully traceable materials directly from communities is a way to foster community development, and as a company—deepen our impact on many stakeholders,” added Gambhir.

Partnership Africa Canada began the Just Gold project as a pilot in 2015 in Ituri Province. The project creates incentives for artisanal gold miners to channel their product to legal exporters—and eventually responsible consumers—by offering fair and transparent pricing and by providing capacity-building, such as technical assistance to miners in return for legal sales. Miners are taught better exploitation techniques and are offered Just Gold project equipment. In return, gold they produce must be tracked and sold through legal channels.

The project has over 600 miners registered across six sites.

As the project moves out of its pilot phase with a proven chain of custody from mine site to the exporter in DRC, Fair Trade Jewellery Co.’s move to import the gold is an important next step. The jeweller also collaborates with its sister company, Toronto-based software startup Consensas, to trace the gold from export to consumer.

“This export from Bunia, DRC to Toronto proved that it is possible to bring Canadian and international consumers traced conflict-free Congolese artisanal gold. What is particularly exciting is that we have shown that every gram of gold can be accompanied by reliable quantitative and qualitative data about its provenance and the actors involved in its extraction, production and trade,” said Joanne Lebert, Partnership Africa Canada’s Executive Director.

“Saying that it is impossible to carry out due diligence on gold supply chains is no longer a valid argument for industry. We have proven otherwise,” said Lebert.

Challenges faced during this export included high export taxes, transportation restrictions, and burdensome paperwork, will be used by Partnership Africa Canada to call on the Congolese government to create more favourable conditions for legal trade and responsible investment.

Funding for the Just Gold project is provided to Partnership Africa Canada by Global Affairs Canada, with additional funding by USAID through the Capacity Building for Responsible Minerals Trade (CBRMT) project and International Organization for Migration.

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