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.

African Gold Refinery Calls For Gold Smuggling End

Gold smugglers from Uganda continue to take advantage of weak checking systems and smuggle gold through airlines out of Uganda. 

Mr. Alain Goetz, Managing Director African Gold Refinery said there is a chronic issue of gold trafficked as hand luggage on  commercial  airlines which needs to be stopped. Mr. Goetz while speaking as a guest speaker during the Mineral Wealth Conference said smuggling gold out of Uganda will stifle the value addition process of gold. He added that the smuggling denies Uganda large amounts of revenues and royalties. 

“AGR is in the business of adding value to the precious minerals and testing soil samples for precious mineral occurrences. AGR focus is on high responsible sourcing of gold, extensive KYC Know Your Customer and due diligence programs,” Mr. Goetz said 

He urged NGOs should not kill the development of Uganda’s gold and mining industry through false reports. He said host country governments are the main stakeholders to promote good mining practices. 

He called for accreditation initiatives for gold refineries. “These are initiatives that certify gold and silver refinery regulated by the government entities,” he said. 

Mr. Alaba Kuterema, Commissioner Mines Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines-Future of ASM and development minerals in Uganda said the mining sector players are faced with many challenges that can be addressed. Kuterema said Uganda’s mining sector is so far dominated by artisanal and small scale miners. 

The sector she said faces challenges which include; inadequate legal, regulatory and institutional framework to govern ASM, poor access to geological information, conflict between ASM and medium and large scale miners. 

Others are use of poor technologies that compound lack of compliance to Safety, Health and Environmental Standards, Limited access to business growth capital that increases child labour, gender inequity and harmful mining practices. 

The activities of ASM create land and natural resource degradation, high occupational Health and Safety Risks, non – compliance to Environmental standards that compromise sustainable mining standards, gender inequalities, income disparities between men and women ; poor technologies that exclude women from certain mining activities. 

She said to overcome these challenges appropriate licensing regime for ASMs  is required including the development minerals, strengthen linkages with Local Government for close monitoring, map and designate specific sites for ASMs, provide for progressive development of ASM, encourage local content and participation. 

She noted that creating and finding alternative economic activity for ASM players is key alongside mining. She noted uncontrolled mining by ASM makes them a major environmental risk. She added that formalization and regulation is key in ensuring sustainable development is a critical need. 

Mr. Johann Kisekulo, Development and Implementation of an Electronic Traceability system for ASM Gold Mining & Trade in Kampene, Maniema Province DR Congo said the DRC Ministry of Mines has been focused on strengthening of transparency and control in the raw materials sector in Eastern DRC 

BGR, a German institution and DRC, ministry of Mines introduced and implemented the Certified Trading Chains (CTC) for mineral conflict materials 3TG (Tin, Tantalum, Tungsten + Gold) 

The CTC ensures legal trade, certified production, and social environmental standards’ protection during mining, extraction and processing of the minerals. 

The goal is to improve ASM trade and supply chains to reduce conflict financing in the Great lakes Region due to illegal supply and smuggling of 3TG minerals.  It seeks to reduce lost revenue in the form of taxes and royalties to Government; lost revenue is a great hindrance to Infrastructure development in the region. CTC helps to meet compliance with the OECD guidelines so as to improve product value, confidence by International buyers. 

At Kampene, DRC, a gold pilot study was conducted. Out of 10 gold co-operatives in the area four were selected for the study. 

IBES AG developed the GOTS TM platform to provide electronic traceability system for all ASM. GOTS TM provides a low – conform tech platform and audit / certification framework that implements secure trade documents and proof of origin system for the precious / mineral supply chain. 

Identity cards with chips have been developed for dealers in the sector. Mobile phones, tablets and computers with installed software that identifies persons and bags are used in the traceability system making it easy for ASM players. 

GOTS Mineral Trace TM platform can be adopted and customized for any country in the Great Lakes Region. The platform can be extended to cover development minerals sector (sand, stone gravel etc.). The benefits to governments are improved revenue collection tax and royalties. He said this system can be developed in any country and can cover any mineral.

Security Agencies Thwart Shs370m Fake Gold Scam

A team of security officers arrested people selling what is believed to be fake gold to a Chinese investor. Some of the arrested individuals were from DR Congo and Cameroon; working with Ugandan accomplices. 

The Chinese investor indentified as Star Young was lured to travel to Uganda with the prospect of buying gold. Upon arriving in the country, he was linked to one James Byaruhanga, who said he had a company which deals in gold.

“It's alleged that Yang was showed two genuine gold bars which were subjected to test by a one Sayid Musanji, he was asked to deposit 83,000 US Dollars and then promised to return on the following Monday to pick the ready gold bar consignment,” police said in a statement. 

On failure to provide the investor with the agreed gold bars, he then sought for assistance from authorities and a theft report was filed against them alleging he was defrauded of 100,000 US Dollars (about Shs370m).

After searching at their premises, suspects were found in illegal possession of G4S Private security organization uniforms, 100 kilograms of suspected fake gold, weighing scales and gold testing machines.

Qatar Targets Energy, Mining Investment In Uganda

Qatar has expressed interest to invest in Uganda after a representative of rich Arab nation recently paid a courtesy visit to President Yoweri Museveni.

Sheikh Faisal bin Thani Al-Thani, Director of Regional Investment Funds at the Qatar Investment Authority, met President Museveni to explore investment opportunities in the sectors of infrastructure, energy, tourism, mining and food security in Africa.

Sheikh Faisal also conveyed warm greetings to President Museveni and the people of Uganda, from the Emir of the State of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

“The Qatar Investment Authority has US$1 billion to invest in Africa and we are looking for areas to partner in,” he said.Qatar Investment Authority is a state-owned holding foreign wealth fund that specializes in domestic and foreign investment.

President Museveni praised Qatar’s interest to invest in Africa and Uganda as one of the countries to invest in. He said there are opportunities in the agro-processing business, mining, and hospitality, among others.

“We want vertical integration. We want to do processing here that is linked with our industries. For example, we want to mine copper to feed our transformer and military sectors. Minerals must be purified to the top level so that we use them for our industries and export the excess,” he stressed.

Uganda Earns $41.1m From Gold Exports

Uganda gold exports raked in $41.1 million in August, which was ranked higher in value terms than the country’s leading export commodity coffee at $35m in the same month, reports say.

The mining sector of the East African country has suffered setbacks, losing the grip of its previous glory but looks adamant to bounce back and be more productive in the coming years in the competitive regional and international markets. 

Gold’s performance was the highest volumes ever the country has managed, drawing attention to the economic performance of the sector, as revealed by statistics from Bank of Uganda. 

Uganda is not a key player in gold mining as it is inclined more to agriculture as the backbone of the economy as most African countries. 

“We are still studying how much gold we produce. But we believe the refinery at Entebbe is attracting a lot of gold from the region, and this is raising the statistics,” commented Uganda Export Promotion Board (UEPB)’s trade and information executive, Mr. John Lwere.

Gold exports amounted to $340 million in 2016, according to official figures, which recorded an increase from $237,000 in 2014. The opening of new mining sites should push up the export numbers to generate more foreign revenue for the government and create employment opportunities for thousands of Ugandans to eradicate poverty level and reduce dependency. 

During the last five years, the exports of Uganda have increased at an annualized rate of 3.4 percent, from $2.5 billion in 2011 to $2.85 billion in 2016. The most recent exports are led by gold which represents 24.8 percent of the total exports of Uganda, followed by coffee, which accounts for 13.7 percent, according to atlas media reports.

Uganda earned at least $300 million from gold between January and October in 2016, which was slightly lower than the earnings from coffee. It represented a leap of more than 740 percent if compared to what was earned the previous year (2015), where total gold exports were $35.7 million.

Uganda Mineral Sector Underexplored, UCMP Boss Tells Investors

Stakeholders, especially investors, attending the seventh mineral wealth conference organized by Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum (UCMP) at Kampala Serena Hotel have been told that Uganda as a s resource rich country has been under explored and should be in the next mining destination.  

The conference which concludes tomorrow is running under the theme: "Eastern Africa: The continent's next mining and Investment haven,". The conference also has an exhibition center with over 45 companies showcasing their products and services.

Richard Kaijuka, chairman UCMP Board of Trustees in his welcome remarks emphasized that Uganda is endowed enormously with a variety of minerals but have been under explored. Even with this under-exploration Kaijuka said Uganda has a number of exciting mining project on going.

Zacary Baguma, the acting director geological survey and mines (DGSM) at the ministry of energy and mineral development (MEMD), revealed that Uganda has metallic minerals, industrial minerals, gemstones and geothermal energy which were confirmed after the 2007 airbone geophysical survey.

The airbone geophysical survey only covered 80 percent of the country, the 20 percent being Karamoja region which was omitted due to insecurity in the region then.

Baguma said mineral production increased between 2012 and 2013 but a ban on exportation of metallic minerals by government saw that performance go down in 2014 and 2015. A lift on the same ban is now seeing the minerals production go up.

Robert Kasande, the permanent secretary ministry of MEMD said after the coming into play of the mining policy, government is working on concluded the review of the mining act. HE said this process is expected to be over before end of this year.

He said the law will will streamline the licensing of miners, organize artisanal miners, address issues of gender inequalities and child labour, health and safety issues and value addition. On value addition, Kasande said will ensure risk reduction for investors.

To fully increase exploration and utilization of the country’s minerals, government is working with European European to prioritize development minerals under the ACP-EU programme.

Thomas Ole-Kuyan, deputy country director (operations) said development minerals which are mainly used locally improve livelihoods for people involved, creates jobs and contributes to general development of a country.

He called on government to put in place the right policy and legislation to guarantee a condusive environment for mining sector to thrive. The ACP-EU supported the creation and passing of the mining policy, strengthens capacity for artisanal miners, promotes gender equality among others.

Seventh Mining Wealth Conference Kicks Off In Kampala

Local miners and investors and a recognizable number from Africa and the world are convening at Kampala Serena Hotel to discuss investment in the mining sector at the seventh mineral wealth conference organized by Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum (UCMP).

The conference which concludes tomorrow is running under the theme: "Eastern Africa: The continent's next mining and Investment haven,". The conference also has an exhibition center with over 45 companies showcasing their products and services.

Richard Kaijuka, chairman UCMP Board of Trustees in his welcome remarks emphasized that Uganda is endowed enormously with a variety of minerals but have been under explored. Even with this under-exploration Kaijuka said Uganda has a number of exciting mining project on going.

Kaijuka, a former energy minister, however noted that Uganda is beginning to attract world class investors. He called on government even with their challenges to focus on the sector by doing the needful including putting in place testing laboratories within the country because currently they have to ship loads of soil samples to either Tanzania or Europe.

Robert Kasande, the permanent secretary ministry of energy and mineral development reiterated government’s commitment to ensuring sustainable development of the mining sector so that it can contribute to the GDP and national development plan.   

“Government accords high priority to development of the mining sector. We have recently put in place the new mining policy to develop the mining industry, stimulate the sector and attract investment and ensure local participation to enhance the economy.” Similarly, he mining law is being reviewed for amendment to improve the sector.

H.E Attillio Pacific, head delegation of the European Union to Uganda, called on miners to adhere to transparency tendencies when doing business in the sector. He called on investors to always put in mind the values of transparency when making key investments.

The conference has been supported an assortment of private sector players who are eyeing business deals in the mining industry.

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