Investors Unimpressed With World's Top Miners Performance

Revenue up 8% to $683 billion; EBITDA up 4% to $165 billion; Record dividend paid to shareholders of $43 billion up 13% ;Market capitalisation of the Top 40 down 18% to $757 billion, 31 Dec 2018 with partial recovery thereafter.

The world's 40 largest mining companies continued to consolidate their stellar performance of the past several years by delivering steady growth in 2018 according to PwC's Mine 2019 report released today.

As a group, the Top 40 increased revenue by 8%, buoyed by higher commodity prices and marginally improved production. They also boosted cash flows, paid down debt and provided a record dividend to shareholders of $43 billion.  Forecasts indicate continued steady performance in 2019. Revenue should remain stable, with weaker prices for coal and copper offsetting marginally higher production and higher average prices for iron ore.

Yet investors seemed unimpressed by the Top 40's result, judging by market valuations, which fell 18% over 2018. While total market capitalization rose in the first term of this year, it remains 8% down compared to the end of 2017.  Over the past 15 years, total shareholders' return in mining has lagged that of the market as a whole as well as comparable industries such as oil and gas.

Michal Kotzé, PwC Africa Energy Utilities & Resources Leader says: "In spite of the strong operating performance of the world's top miners, there is still more room for improvement for mining to continue to create and realise value in a sustainable manner. Both investors and other stakeholders have concerns about the mining industry's ability to respond to the risk and uncertainties of a changing world.

"Globally, stakeholders are concerned that the industry is lagging when it comes to a number of factors that have not been a traditional focus of the mining industry. These include dealing with emissions, investing in differentiating technology and digitisation, engaging more proactively with consumers and building brand.

"The mining industry will have a window of opportunity to adapt to the growing and changing expectations of stakeholders. By utilising technology to operate safely and more efficiently, addressing global concerns, and maintaining a disciplined strategy to create ongoing value for its stakeholders, the industry can forge a better future for all beneficiaries of mining."

 A chance to fix brand mining

With strong balance sheets and cash flow, now is the time for the mining industry to address the issues weighing down market valuations. Climate change, technology and changing customer sentiment are among many of the business challenges.

In order to restore faith in 'brand mining', the top miners will need to prove they are keeping up with the pace of change. Miners have a critical role to play in addressing the awareness gap between the brand of mining and the benefits of mining.

Balance sheets remain strong; capital expenditure up but slow

In 2018 the Top 40 paid down $15.5 billion in net borrowings, resulting in the gearing position dropping below the 10-year average. All liquidity and solvency ratios improved during the year, leaving the world's largest miners with strong balance sheets and cash flows.

In line with expectations, capital expenditures started to rise again, albeit from historically low levels.  The 13% increase over the previous year to $57 billion suggests that miners are continuing to proceed cautiously; approximately half of the capital expenditure in 2018 was for ongoing projects.

Copper and gold dominated spending in 2018, attracting $30 billion of investment. Capital expenditure on coal was consistent, year on year, and we expect miners will maintain current production levels while the coal price remains high.

Shareholders, government and other stakeholders rewarded

An 11% lift in operating cash flows has allowed the Top 40 to increase shareholder distributions in 2018 to a record $43 billion. Dividend yield for the year was 5.5%. There was a notable jump in share buybacks to $15 billion, up from $4 billion in 2017. Rio Tinto and BHP accounted for 70% of the total activity returning proceeds of non-core disposals to shareholders.

In 2018 the share of value distributed to governments in the form of direct taxes and royalties   increased from 19% to 21%. Employees received 22% of the total value distribution from the Top 40. "Mining along with oil & gas, distributes a greater share of its value to governments than almost any other sector," adds Andries Rossouw, PwC Assurance Partner.

"A number of countries have also implemented carbon taxes and/or emissions trading schemes." Of 25 countries in which the Top 40 operate, 13 countries have already implemented these taxes/schemes and nine countries are actively considering implementation.

M&A activity picks up

After several years of sluggish activity, M&A picked up significantly in 2018. The value of announced transactions rose 137% to $30 billion, driven by a flurry of activity in the gold sector, the on-going push by miners to optimise their portfolios, and momentum to acquire energy metals projects.

Rossouw comments further: "This renewed appetite for large transactions looks as though it will continue throughout 2019, with the deal value announced to 30 April 2019 already surpassing the value of all the announced deals in 2017.

Gold sector consolidating

The gold sector is experiencing a renewed round of consolidation, driven by a shrinking pipeline of projects, fewer new high-grade discoveries and a lack of funding for junior developments. Gold deals increased from 8% of total Top 40 deal value in 2017 to 25% in 2018, and this year are tracking at close to 95% of deals as at the end of April.

"Gold mining companies need to be rigorous and disciplined with prospective deals. With substantially all the value generated by mergers and acquisitions between 2005 and 2012 now lost, investors are still reeling from past transactions where purchasers overpaid for assets," Kotzé comments.

Govt Moves To Sanitize Mining Sector With Biometric Registration Of Miners

The latest government ambition to register all artisanal and small scale miners in Uganda has been looked at as a programme that will improve management of the mining sector, harmonize and formalize Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM) activities in the country.  

Government last month with the help of Africa Centre for Energy and Mineral Policy (ACEMP) and Action Aid Uganda launched the Biometric Registration of Artisanal and Small Scale Miners (BRASSM) in Uganda at Royal Suites Hotel in Bugolobi.

The system will capture the biometric data of Ugandan artisanal miners who will be given identification numbers according to their mining zones. Foreign artisanal miners will not be registered, instead they will now have to apply for mining licenses just like foreign companies do. By doing this, the system will protect local artisanal miners from foreigners.

The Minister of State for Mineral Development Hon. Peter Lokeris while officiating at the launch of BRASSM revealed that over one million Ugandans directly or indirectly benefit from ASM operations despite being portrayed by its negative impacts. He explained that there is need to understand and address the structural challenges faced by artisanal miners in order to improve the sector’s opportunities.  

The Minister pointed out the challenges faced by the ASM sector as inadequate regulation, local politics, nomadic way of ASM operations, influx of foreigners, insecurity, environmental degradation, use of hazardous chemicals such as mercury and cyanide, lack of technical & financial capacity and lost revenue opportunities for government.

“These structural problem need to be addressed for ASM to contribute to social and economic development of the country,” the Minister told the congregation dominated by ASMs from across the country at the launch. BRASSM will address some of these challenges weeding out foreigners, access to financing and address issues of insecurity.

WHO WILL BE REGISTERED?

For miners to be registered, they must be adult Ugandans, registered under a mining association, living in a mining zone, with a national identity card (Ndagamuntu) and a practicing miner. No individual will be registered under BRASSM unless they are applying for mining licenses as a company.

Mr. Don Bwesigye Binyina, the Executive Director of Africa Centre for Energy and Mineral Policy, the implementing agency, said the BRASSM project will enhance quality of life for miners so as to increase their contribution to Uganda’s sustainable development.

Mr. Zachary Baguma a commissioner at Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development said government wants to identify and know these miners so that they can be mobilized and enhance their capacities through trainings, financing and monitoring.

RESTRICTED MOVEMENT OF MINERS

The registration of miners will also restrict their movement. This means that if a miner is registered in Busia, he or she cannot relocate to Mubende. This, Mr. Baguma said is aimed at combating migrating miners. “If you are licensed in Mubende and not in Mityana, then you should not go to mine in Mityana,” Mr. Baguma said.

This however didn’t go down well with miners at the launch who said restricting their movements would limit their production. Mr. Mathias Aroba, a miner and treasury at Tiira Small Scale Miners association in Busia District said many people will not register with that kind of restriction. He advised that people who should be restricted are the dealers instead of miners.

But ACEMP’s Mr. Bwesigye said this kind of restriction will help government to track miners and collect taxes from them, help in addressing issues of conflict and security and to ensure that the resources benefit indigenous people or residents of that particular mining zone.

Mr. Baguma said that while official steps for anybody to change his registered BRASSM license, they will need to prove that they have not destroyed the environment in the place they have been working in. “Before you move, you must restore the mining holes. The place you are leaving behind must environmentally happy,” he said.

ARTISANAL MINING’S BIG POTENTIAL

Hon. Lokeris reiterated that the government recognizes the potential of ASM and what it can contribute to the local economic development if well regulated. He acknowledged that ASM can create jobs especially in rural areas, improve livelihoods and control rural-urban migration. Therefore to the ministry is implementing a Mineral Wealth and Mining Infrastructure Development Project that is aimed at development of an effective ASM Management Strategy to address ASM challenges.

Hon. Lokeris said together with ACEMP MEMD will map, register and come up with an effective management strategy for development of ASM sector. Under this collaboration both parties will improve ASM management strategy, undertake BRASSM by working with National Identification Registration Authority (NIRA) and National Information Technology Authority of Uganda (NITA-U).

They will develop mechanisms to regulate ASM movements, identify relevant stakeholders for ASM consultations, analyze and provide a baseline profile for ASM sector, develop a tool for monitoring, evaluation and improvement of ASM practices and develop a mechanism to control use of hazardous chemicals by ASM, among others.

Minerals-Rich Africa To Diversify For Economic Gains - IMF Report

Resource-dependent African economies must diversify if they are to increase the rate of economic growth, according to a report released by the International Monetary Fund.

The International Monetary Fund Regional Economic Outlook for Sub Saharan Africa unveiled earlier this week by Mira Clara, the organization's resident representative showed that although the continent's economic growth is on an upward trajectory, it varies considerably among countries.

It showed that recent and prospective growth performance is split between resource and non-resource-intensive countries. The more diversified economies, 21 out of 45 economies, continue to grow at over 5 percent while growth remains anaemic in more resource-dependent economies, which are home to more than half the population in sub-Saharan Africa, as reported by Xinhua.

Growth in resource-intensive countries was adversely impacted by the large 2014 terms-of-trade shock, which led to falling in commodity prices. The region's larger economies also registered slower growth, according to the Outlook.

In South Africa, lower private investment is contributing to slower growth with GDP growth expected to reach only 1.2 percent in 2019 while in Nigeria, the drop in oil prices and ongoing adjustment are expected to slow growth to 2.1 percent. In oil rich Angola, growth is projected at 0.4 percent in 2019.

According to Mira Clara, the African governments can take up several policy recommendations like facilitating greater private investments, raising productivity including promoting diversification and export competitiveness. Governments can also reduce non-tariff barriers and promote intra-regional trade.

Louis Kasekende, deputy governor of Uganda's central bank, Bank of Uganda said the Outlook presents both the good and bad sides. "Growth is strong in non-resource intensive countries. This means these countries have found other anchors for growth beyond mineral resources. Also, fiscal policies have been supportive of growth and stability especially in resource-poor countries," Kasekende opined, Xinhua noted.

"We need fiscal policy to remain prudent otherwise we risk reversing all the gains made. In addition, we have reduced conflicts in the region, providing a conducive environment for trade and other economic activities. Peace and stability must be preserved at all times and perhaps at all costs." Kasekende added.

SOURCE: Devdiscourse

M2 Cobalt, Jervois Mining Coming Hard On Uganda

It is going to be a busy year for M2 Cobalt Corp in Uganda after the Canadian mining firm said it will approximately drill 6,000 metres at its various Ugandan properties. M2 Cobalt chief executive officer Mr. Simon Clarke said the company was pleased to be launching the next phase of its exploration campaign. The firm completed around 2,000 metres of diamond drilling before Christmas last year - mainly at priority targets at its Kilembe-area properties.

It said this year's program will include diamond and reverse circulation (RC) drilling and plans to launch additional ground geophysics (magnetics and Induced Polarization (IP) and rock grab and soil sampling within existing and recently acquired exploration licenses.

"We have a very large asset base with numerous large-scale targets and significant potential for new discoveries," said Mr. Simon Clarke, CEO of M2 Cobalt.  Adding that "The ability to leverage what we have learned to date into this expanded phase of drilling strengthens our position significantly. We are also extremely pleased to be able to add the technical and financial resources of Jervois as we move through the merger process and combine operations."

M2 Cobalt also revealed that its merger with Jervois Mining Ltd was progressing well after receiving support from shareholder. It said it expects a formal shareholder approval to be obtained via a vote in early to mid-May 2019. “We are also extremely pleased to be able to add the technical and financial resources of Jervois as we move through the merger process and combine operations.” said Mr. Clarke

As part of the process, M2 Cobalt said it had now satisfied all outstanding conditions for the drawdown of the US$3 million working capital facility from Jervois, which will be used to fund the continuation and expansion of the initial drill program and the next phase of exploration. The funds are set to be used for the continuation and expansion of its initial drill program and the next phase of exploration.

The drill program will expand work undertaken at the Waragi and Nile targets, with up to 3,000m of drilling planned to systematically test the large regional cobalt/copper geochemical anomaly discovered across the Buajagli licenses in southern Uganda during 2018.

Under the definitive agreement signed in January, the two companies will merge via an all-market transaction whereby each common share of M2 Cobalt will be exchanged for one common share of Jervois.

Jervois launched a friendly merger with the M2 Cobalt back in January, giving the company a “transformational” foothold in Uganda through the historical Kilembe copper-gold mine.

Meanwhile, M2 Cobalt and Jervois have annoucned that the newly combined company is merging with Idaho cobalt company eCobalt Solutions Inc. The newly formed company will have projects in Australia, East Africa and the US, including eCobalt’s Idaho Cobalt project, which boasts the highest combination of cobalt grade and scale in North America.

The combination will involve the acquisition of all of the issued and outstanding shares of eCobalt and will not impact the previously announced merger of M2 Cobalt and Jervois, the company said in a statement.

"We are fully supportive of Jervois undertaking a transaction with eCobalt, and look forward to securing eCobalt's high-grade Idaho Cobalt Project for the combined group,” said Mr. Clarke.

“The combination with eCobalt advances our combined goal of building the pre-eminent, mid-tier, multi-jurisdictional battery materials supplier and secures one of the highest quality cobalt deposits globally.”

Mineral Exploration, Production & Value Addition Key Focus In 2019

The Plan for Uganda participating in the Regional Certification Mechanism for Uganda has been developed for Uganda. The implementation of mineral certification mechanism is underway. This mechanism will enable Uganda trade its minerals at good prices.

President Yoweri Museveni has assented to a key law that will enable the certification of minerals dubbed as the conflict minerals. These are Tin, Tungsten, Tantalite and Gold (3Ts and G).

The presidential assent of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region Bill (ICGLR Bill 2016) will enable Uganda participate in a regional certification mechanism to deal in the minerals. The Bill was passed by Parliament in May 2017 but has been waiting the ascent of Museveni.

A Regional Certification Mechanism (RCM) was developed in 2006 under the ICGLR to tackle the issue of conflict minerals. The RCM requires formalization of the artisanal and small scale miners to enable the tracking and certification of the minerals.

The Regional Initiative against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources (RINR) particularly aims at breaking the link between mineral revenues and rebel financing.

In July 2010 the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was voted by the American Congress and signed by President Barack Obama.

Section 1502 of the act requires companies to disclose whether any of the products manufactured or contracted to be manufactured by the company contains conflict minerals that originate in the Democratic Republic of Congo or any of the 10 adjoining countries including Uganda. It made it difficult to trade in minerals that were not certified to be conflict free.

International regulations require that the 3T and G minerals are certified as conflict free to ensure that proceeds from their sale are not used to fund conflicts and human rights violations.

As part of the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region, which was signed by eleven regional Heads of States in Nairobi on December 15th 2006, the Protocol on the Fight against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources outlines the actions that Member States have to take.

 The main objective of the protocol was to ensure that minerals leaving the region complied with Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidelines.

OECD (Paris based organisation with membership of developed nations) guidelines provide measures to curb irresponsible sourcing of conflict minerals by consumers in the developed world.

GEOLOGICAL SURVEYS IN UGANDA

The country’s geochemical coverage still remains at 35% while geophysical surveys are at 80%. Eight (8) mineralized areas were discovered against an annual target of 3 and 6 potential Uranium resources targets against an annual target of two (2) in order to stimulate investment in the mining sector.

Government commenced on Uranium exploration in Ndale, Fort Portal and Rusekere volcanic fields (Fort Portal west uranium anomaly) and Rare Earth Elements (REE) exploration at Makutu-Buwaya radiometric anomaly in Eastern Uganda.

Three Hundred Sixty Seven (367) samples were collected and analyzed. Geological studies have confirmed an area of 160km2 in Kibito, Fortportal for further follow-up and detailed studies to establish the Uranium potential in the area.

NEW MINERAL DISCOVERIES

Thirty percent (30%) of the current mineral map of Karamoja has been updated by carrying out ground geological and geochemical surveys. New mineral targets of tourmaline, gold, wolfram, tin, columbite-tantalite, beryl, zinc, cobalt, nickel and chromium and potential of black sands that host heavy metals such as magnetite, ilmenite and rutile have been discovered from geological mapping and geochemical surveys done.

More minerals are anticipated to be discovered after the planned airborne surveys have been carried out in the region followed by carrying out geological mapping, geochemical surveys and ground geophysical surveys.

 MINERAL EXPLORATION

Government is making follow up on mineral targets for mining and industrial development. The projects are being promoted for both public and private partnership (PPP). The projects include those of: i) iron ore; ii) nickel-platinum group metals (PGMs); iii) nickel-copper-lead; and iv) Busia gold bearing zone.

 Sukulu Phosphate and Steel Project: M/S Guangzhou Dongsong Energy Group Co. Ltd is to develop the Sukulu phosphate resource into phosphates, steel, glass, cement and brick products.

The company has so far constructed buildings to house staff and workers plus putting in place an administration block and a dining hall. The company has also carried out geotechnical site investigations and established the type of soils where the plant is to be set up.

Earthworks and grading of the site are now underway and pre-fabricated plant machinery for the first phase has arrived in the country. All plants, including the steel mill, are expected to be in operation by December 2019.

So far, over 150 skilled Ugandan workers have been employed, and the number is expected to rise to over 1,000 by December 2019 when the plant is fully operational.

 IRON ORE DISCOVERIES

A follow-up on targets that were identified by airborne geophysical surveys. The ground geological and geochemical mapping that were conducted resulted into new discoveries of iron ore resources in Nyakarambi, Kitunga, Kashambya Kitojo, Kobutare, Katagata in Rukiga  District. The study has confirmed the Iron Ore Resources in the Rutenga Magnetic anomaly.

Government stopped all illegal mining activities in Mubende District and a Mineral Protection Police Unit was put in place to curb any further illegal mining in the country.

In line with the new mineral policy and mining legislation, the Ministry in collaboration with the National Identification Registration Authority (NIRA) will biometrically register all artisanal and small scale miners (ASMs) in the country.

MINING CADASTRE AND REGISTRY SYSTEM

The Sub-sector is upgrading its Mining Cadastre and Registry System (MCRS) to an e-government based mineral licensing system for a three-year period.

In preparation for the transition from a paper-based to an online system, the Subsector in collaboration with NITA-U is now hosting the cadaster system in the cloud, and is in the process of securing an MoU with URA to develop an online payment transaction portal.

 REVIEW OF THE MINING REGULATIONS, 2004

The Subsector is reviewing the Mining Regulations, 2004 to effect the transition to an online system. The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (the implementation of the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region) Bill No.16 was assented. The ICGLR Act, 2017 is being implemented by the Ministry towards issuance of the first certificate for certified designated minerals from Uganda.

The Sub-sector has trained inspectors and developed inspection manual, inspection template, export procedure and is now developing regulations to enforce the Act. The Sub-sector monitored and inspected mining activities in the country to promote the application of environmentally friendly technologies and methods in mineral exploitation, and ensure adherence to health and safety regulations.

MINERAL RIGHTS (LICENCES)

A total of 716 Mineral Rights (licences) were issued to promote mining investment. The Ministry also provided extension services and carried out awareness campaigns targeting small-scale miners through their associations so as to legalize their operations.

Geo-scientific data management: The Sub-sector acquired and managed geo-scientific data for strategic minerals i.e. uranium, gold, base metals, iron ore and wolfram.

The Sub-sector monitored earthquakes using its installed Uganda seismic network to acquire data useful in monitoring of earthquake hazards. Geo-hazards investigation surveys for ground failures and landslides were conducted in Mt Elgon area.

MINERAL LABORATORIES

The Sub-sector is up-grading the mineral laboratories to become the main analytical and beneficiation centre. Equipment and consumables for the laboratories have been procured and maintenance carried out. The up-graded laboratory will provide a capacity to analyze materials for geological, hydrological and environmental studies.

Emulate Dangote’s Investment Drive, Says Former Ethiopian Prime Minister

Former Ethiopia Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn has described as exceptional and enormous the investment of the Dangote Group in Africa's oil refining sector and urged other private sector investors to take a cue from the group’s investment drive.

Speaking during the tour of Dangote Jetty, Fertiliser and Refinery Plant, Desalegn said the President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote has enormous influence in the sector and that his involvement in the general economic wellbeing of the whole of Africa is unquantifiable.

He therefore encouraged other investors to consider the strategic nature of investments made by the conglomerate and emulate them in order to enhance the value of the continent’s economy: "I think this is a lesson for other African investors to take risk and bring about big change. A mega project of this magnitude, actually needs dedication and commitment, as well as sacrifice."

He insisted that Africa needs massive investment like the Dangote Refinery for economic development.

According to him, investors in the continent must recognize that investment in essential sector would remain critical to sustainable economic growth. “I think this project is not only for Nigeria, but for the entire African countries”, he added.

Group Executive Director, Strategy, Portfolio Development & Capital Projects, Dangote Industries Limited, Devakumar Edwin, said the project would provide 135,000 retail outlets, 26,716 filling stations and 129 depots in Nigeria, while the 2,600 trucks for transport will create additional jobs.

Another invaluable area of interest the project will enhance is in the area of skill development and capacity building for Nigerian. Already, Mr. Edwin said training of second batch of Nigerian Engineers has started in Delhi India.

He said, “we are sending all engineers abroad in batches. They will engage in classroom training for one month and on the job training of one year. They will be working with real time experts in the industry every day.”

 Edwin disclosed that the company’s target is for a significant portion of Nigeria’s crude oil production to be refined domestically, rather than imported, thereby creating jobs within Nigeria, and bringing a halt to the current importation of refined petroleum product.

Edwin said the refinery is going to provide over 100,000 indirect employment through retail outlets. He said the refinery is designed to meet Euro V grade, which is the highest standard in the world, hence products can be exported to any part of the world.

“It will be well diversified and able to process Nigerian crude, African crude and crude from other parts of the world. In terms of evacuation routes, two crude oil single point mooring (SPM) buoys and three multi-product SPMs will be located within the Atlantic Ocean to transfer crude oil to a calling tanker.

Edwin said the company was also constructing the largest fertiliser plant in West Africa with the capacity to produce three million tonnes of urea per year.

Dangote Fertilizer Complex, consisting of Ammonia and Urea plants, is conceived to be one of the world's largest fertilizer plants with a total capacity of 3 Million Tonnes per Annum of Urea fertilizer. Therefore, the Dangote Fertilizer is positioned to bridge the gap between local demand and national capacity. Dangote Fertilizer Plants will produce Urea that will assist farmers boost their crop yields through easy access to fertilizer,” he added.

Liberia, Niron Metals Sign MoU To Export Zogota Iron Ore

The Government of  Liberia and Niron Metals Plc jointly announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), regarding the passage through Liberia of iron ore from the Zogota iron ore deposit in the Republic of Guinea . The MOU relates to the use of existing rail and port infrastructure in Liberia.

The signing of the MOU follows the joint vision of economic cooperation, expressed by the leaders of the republics of Guinea and Liberia, H.E. President Alpha Condé and H.E. President George Weah, at a meeting held in Dakar on the 2 April 2019.

The Government of Guinea has already given authorisation for Niron to export material from Zogota in compliance with the Mining Code of the Republic of Guinea 2013.

The Chairman of the Liberian National Investment Commission, Mr Molewuleh Gray said: “This agreement opens a new chapter and supports the development of a world-class mining and logistics project for the benefit of the people of the Mano River Union.  

“The Government will now initiate discussions with the railway and port concessionaire, relating to third-party access rights. Thereafter we anticipate accelerated tripartite discussions to commence”.

Sir Mick Davis, Chairman of Niron said: “This MOU is an important milestone in our plans to develop the Zogota project. We intend to complete our feasibility study within six months and continue to work with relevant stakeholders to bring Zogota rapidly into production for the benefit of all.”

The MOU signatories from the Republic of Liberia were Hon. Samuel A. Wlue Minister from the Ministry of Transport, Hon. Gesler E. Murray, Minister from the Ministry of Mines & Energy, Hon. Molewuleh B. Gray, Chairman of the National Investment Commission, Hon. Samuel D. Tweah, Minister from the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning with their signatures attested by Cllr. Frank Musa Dean Jr. the Minister of Justice/Attorney General of the Republic of Liberia.

Vantage Capital Exits Thebe Timrite

Vantage Capital, Africa's largest mezzanine debt fund manager, announced today that it has fully exited its investment in Thebe Timrite ("Timrite"), a leading black-controlled supplier of mining support products and services in South Africa.

 Vantage provided an R89m ($6,3m) mezzanine debt facility to fund the 100% acquisition of Timrite by Thebe Investment Corporation ("Thebe") and the Timrite management team in 2013, as well as to fund expansion capital expenditure. Thebe is one of South Africa's leading black-owned investment companies, managing assets of over R6 billion ($420m).

Mokgome Mogoba, Associate Partner at Vantage Capital, said, "the investment we made in Thebe Timrite demonstrates the support we provide to black-controlled businesses and our commitment to transformation in South Africa.

Furthermore, it highlights the faith that we have in the resilience of the South African mining sector and the employment opportunities it creates. This was the second time we had partnered with Thebe as we had previously supported Thebe's investment in Safripol, another successful investment."   

Luc Albinski, Managing Partner at Vantage Capital, added, "Vantage was an active participant in many board discussions over the past six years at Timrite, helping to shape the growth strategies of the company during a difficult time in South Africa's mining sector.

It was a privilege to engage with Timrite management and Thebe as the company diversified its product range through world-class R&D, introducing new products into the market that have made our mines safer."

Nonhlanhla Mabusela, CEO of Thebe Timrite, said, "we are grateful to have partnered with Vantage Capital during both strong and turbulent times within the mining sector in recent years. Vantage's funding did indeed play a key role in facilitating black ownership in the underground roof support market, placing Timrite miles ahead of its peers in its transformation targets."

Sizwe Mncwango, CEO of Thebe said "We would like to express our deepest gratitude to Vantage Capital for the partnership and support afforded to Thebe in steering the company over the last 6 years. The exit by Vantage Capital allows Thebe to become a sole shareholder of Thebe Timrite and we are excited about the future of this business."

To date, Vantage Capital has successfully exited nine investments generating proceeds of R2.6bn ($190m) across its three generations of mezzanine debt funds and achieved an aggregate money multiple of 2.0x.

Dangote, Imouhkuede Launch Africa Business Coalition For Health

An ambitious platform designed to bring together business leaders in Africa to collaborate with heads of government and other stakeholders to tackle basic health challenges in Africa has been launched in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with assurances from government to collaborate for a healthier Africans.

The platform, African Business Coalition for Health (ABC Health) was launched with commitments by all partners and stakeholders to put efforts together to improve basic health care services in the continent during the inaugural Africa Business: Health Forum 2019, which witnessed the launch of the official logo of the ABC Health.

The ABC Health is a joint initiative of Aliko Dangote Foundation; GBCHealth, and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), with the objective of driving business leadership, strengthening partnerships, and facilitating investments to change the face of healthcare in Africa.

Taking place on the margins of the 32nd African Union Summit Heads of Governments and Business Community leaders across Africa, the forum  examined opportunities to accelerate economic development and growth of the continent through a healthcare reform agenda that focuses on the wellbeing of employees for a more active and productive workforce.

The forum is expected to unify Africa's key decision makers in exploring opportunities for catalysing growth in the continent's economy, through business partnerships to invest in the health sector.

In his opening remarks, the Chairman of Aliko Dangote Foundation, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, who was represented by the Foundation's Executive Director, Halima Aliko-Dangote said Africa Business Health Forum would identify issues and solutions to Africa's health challenges with a view to mobilizing the will to confront it headlong.

He said it is a well-known fact that there is a vital relationship between health and economic growth and development in Africa as healthy populations live longer, are more productive, and save more. Access to essential health services is an important aspect of development.

Dangote stated that "Governments from both developed and developing countries are increasingly looking at public-private partnerships (PPPs) as a way to expand access to higher-quality health services by leveraging capital, managerial capacity, and know-how from the private sector."

According to him, "Africa's healthcare systems demand significant investments to meet the needs of their growing populations, changing patterns of diseases and the internationally-agreed development goals.

He said as a businessman, and through Aliko Dangote foundation, he is committed to working with governments and key stakeholders for the development of impactful health initiatives in Africa in the belief that private sector leaders have a strong role to play.

Back in his home country, Dangote informed his audience that in keeping with his passion to see a healthier African people and better continent he has proposed and charged business leaders to commit at least one percent of their profit after tax to support the health sector.

In his own remark, the Co-Chair of the GBCHealth, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, said while Africa has made significant progress in the funding of healthcare, "we are still very far from where we need to be to achieve SDG Goal 3,"

He lamented that the healthcare in Africa is constrained by scarce public funding and limited donor support, and that the out of pocket expenditure accounts for 36% of Africa's total healthcare spend pointing out that given the income levels in Africa, it is no surprise that healthcare spend in Africa is grossly inadequate to meet Africa's needs leading to a financing gap of N66bn per annum.

Mr Imhokuede said it was clear that African government alone cannot solve this challenge, which is further exacerbated by our growing population and Africa's changing disease portfolio. Therefore there is no alternative but to turn to the private sector to complement government funding.

Said he "Our continent accounts for less than 2% of global health even though our very fertile people account for 16% of global population and carry 26% of the global disease burden. By 2050 Africans will account for more than 50% of global population growth much of that coming from my country Nigeria, a great opportunity and at the same time a ticking time bomb should we fail our health systems quickly.

"That is why we have gathered here in Addis Ababa today to see how together we can fix health in Africa. The private sector and the public sector working together as partners have the potential to change Africa's healthcare from doom and gloom to progress and results. Africa's private sector has great capacity to be relevant partners.

"The private sector must be encouraged to optimize and step up its involvement and contribution to health funding in Africa. We have seen what global private sector players accomplished in the fight against the AIDS epidemic through powerful coalitions such as GBCHealth. This is an indication of the power of consolidated effort which Africa's growing private sector can bring to solving our health challenges."    

"African leaders now have a stronger sense of urgency to combat the lack of quality health care that Africans endure. The inequality of healthcare available to Africans compared to people in other parts of the globe is vast and unacceptably pervasive. With the cooperation of both the public and private sectors, there is a huge potential to boost health outcomes with significant financial gains," said Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Co-Chair GBCHealth.

The Executive Secretary of the United Nation Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Vera Songwe regretted that that Africa with over 50 countries is struggling to combat her healthcare challenges but that organizations such as being launch offer a veritable perspective from the private sector to the solutions to Africa's health care problems.

She said about $17.3 worth of drugs are imported into African Continent and that if Africa can manufacture those drugs, then that would be 17.3 billion worth of jobs created.

However, to attract the participation of African private sector, there is the need to create enabling environment. "To the private sector, our leaders are expecting you to invest in healthcare because you will get higher returns than you can get anywhere else."

According to her, a healthier Africa would be a happy Africa and a happy Africa will be a productive Africa.

One after another, the three African heads of governments, namely President of Republic of Djibouti, Omar Gilles; the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed; and Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi took turn to explain what their administrations have been doing to improve health care delivery services in their respective countries.

They also gave lack of adequate funding as part of the problems militating aainst achieving their administrations' plan to provide sound health care services just as other African countries.

They all endorsed the establishment of Africa Business Coalition for Health and concluded that it would provide opportunities to accelerate economic development and growth of the continent through a healthcare reform agenda that focuses on the wellbeing of employees for a more active and productive workforce.

Report Says Miners Not Paying Karamoja Royalties

A report by conducted in April by Ecological Christian Organisation (ECO) and Uganda Consortium on Corporate Accountability (UCCA) reveals that minng companies are paying the 3 percent royalty levy to land owners in Karamoja as stipulated in the Mining Act.

"Royalty payments often do not reach landowners and payment problems are compounded by the complex nature of land. There is lack of clarity as to where these payments should go in those cases where mined land is communally owned," Ms Phillo Aryatwijuka, the programme officer ECO, is quoted by Daily Monitor.

Many communities in the region, she said, were not receiving their royalties due to the communal nature of land whose rightful owners could not be verified legally. Communities in areas around Tororo Cement mining Limestone, for instance, have never received their 3 per cent in royalties.

To solve the problem, ECO and UCCA suggested that the communities organise themselves in groups to acquire communal land titles.

Artisanal and Small scale mining in Karamoja is one of the biggest economic activities in the region employing 20,000 miners with 54,000 direct and induced labourers. A total of 432,000 people in households depend on incomes from ASM.

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