Archive | Africa Mining

UK Serious Fraud Office launches probe into Rio Tinto over Simandou – by Frik Els ( – July 24, 2017)

The UK’s anti-fraud investigating body said Monday it is probing Rio Tinto’s dealings in Guinea involving the giant Simandou iron ore project.

“The Serious Fraud Office has opened an investigation into suspected corruption in the conduct of business in the Republic of Guinea by the Rio Tinto group, its employees and others associated with it,” the SFO said in a statement on Monday.

In November last year Melbourne-based Rio fired two executives involved in the project after an internal investigation uncovered a $10.5m payment in 2011 to a French national acting as a go-between with the West African nation’s government. Continue Reading →

This Miner’s $190 Billion Tax Bill Would Take Centuries to Pay – by Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg News – July 24, 2017)

Tanzania sent Acacia Mining Plc a tax bill equal to almost two centuries worth of the gold producer’s revenue.

The government issued the company, which mines all of its gold in the African country, with a $40 billion tax bill and another $150 billion in interest and penalties, Acacia said in a statement Monday. The charge covers alleged under-declared export revenues from the Bulyanhulu and Buzwagi mines over periods between 2000 and 2017.

Acacia reiterated that it has fully declared all revenues. The stock sank as much as 17 percent on Tuesday to the lowest since December 2013. In just three days, the company has lost 42 percent of its value.

The giant tax bill is the latest twist in an increasingly ugly spat between the government and Acacia. Continue Reading →

Hitting the gold mine: Ottawa NGO imports first legal gold from the Congo – by Elise von Scheel (CBC News Ottawa – July 24, 2017)

Almost all of the Congo’s gold is illegally traded on the black market

A little over a month ago, Joanne Lebert boarded a plane to make the long flight from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Toronto. She was helping transport a tiny package that could change the way gold from the Congo is traded internationally.

Lebert, executive director of Partnership Africa Canada, was carrying 238 grams of raw gold purchased from mines near the remote town of Mambasa. According to PAC, Lebert’s import was one of the first legal gold purchases from the African nation.

Partnership Africa Canada is an Ottawa-based NGO that is spearheading efforts to ethically import gold from the Congo to Canada. They sent their first shipment to a jewelry store in Toronto that makes fair trade pieces. An estimated $28 billion in unrefined gold lies deep beneath the soil in the eastern regions of the Congo, but 98 per cent of it leaves the country illegally, according to the International Peace Information Service. Continue Reading →

Diamonds Bring New Life to War-Torn Central African Republic – by Fleury Koursany (Bloomberg News – July 24, 2017)

Rough diamonds enabled Abdoul Raouf to marry three women and put his nine children through school. Now that his town in western Central African Republic can legally export the gems to world markets again, his neighbors are expecting similar fortunes.

“Diamonds are my life,” said Raouf, who trades the stones bought from artisanal miners in the town of Gamboula, near the border with Cameroon and a 10-hour drive to the capital, Bangui. “It’s because of diamonds that I can take care of my family.”

Gamboula is one of five areas in the west that can freely trade in diamonds again after the gradual easing of an export ban imposed three years ago. While fighting has flared in the southeast, forcing tens of thousands to flee, the western Mambere-Kadei prefecture has embraced a tentative peace, enabling residents to return to the diamond sites. Continue Reading →

Acacia Mining pressed over deaths in Tanzania – by David Pilling (Financial Times – July 23, 2017)

Acacia Mining, which is in the midst of a multibillion-dollar dispute with the Tanzanian government over tax and royalties, is facing renewed pressure to address long-running alleged human rights violations at one of its mines in the east African country.

Since 2014, at least 22 people have been killed and 69 injured, many after being shot at or near Acacia’s North Mara gold mine, according to Rights and Accountability in Development, a UK charity, which accuses the London-listed miner of taking a “militarised” approach to guarding its assets in one of Tanzania’s poorest regions.

It was “unfathomable” that Acacia was not addressing human rights concerns as part of high-level discussions with the government to resolve a separate tax dispute, Anneke Van Woudenberg, executive director of RAID, said. Continue Reading →

Why IAMGOLD could be the next gold major: CEO Steve Letwin interview – by Jonathan Roth (CEO.CA – July 24, 2017)

Can IAMGOLD make the move from a mid-tier gold producer to a major? The company’s CEO sure thinks so. In an expansive interview recently taped in Nelson, British Columbia, Stephen Letwin touches on everything from IAMGOLD’s recent upward surge and why gold majors are facing serious challenges to his own upbringing and what he’s learned about leadership. For investors in the gold space, there is a lot of red meat.

Originally a senior executive in the oil business, Letwin was headhunted for the IAMGOLD chief executive position in 2010. His family and friends were initially puzzled by his decision to leave an oil career that, by his own admission, had made him “a lot of money.”

“I got a lot of pushback from a lot of friends who said, ‘Why would you take that risk?’” says Letwin. “I said, ‘I’ve got about 10 to 15 years to do something, I’d like to go and try that.’ Continue Reading →

Op-Ed Were the raw materials in your iPhone mined by children in inhumane conditions? – by Brian Merchant (Los Angeles Times – July 23, 2017)

Brian Merchant, an editor at Motherboard, is the author of “The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone.”

Last year, I visited the sprawling mines of Cerro Rico, the “rich hill” that looms over Potosi, Bolivia. Four centuries ago, it supplied the silver that bankrolled the Spanish empire. Today, miners who work in the same tunnels as 16th century conscripted Incan laborers are providing tin for Apple products like the iPhone. It’s a powerful paradox — our most cutting-edge consumer devices are made from raw material obtained by methods barely advanced beyond colonial times.

Cerro Rico couldn’t be farther from Silicon Valley. Cigarette-scarred devil idols mark the mine entrances. Its support beams are split and cracked, and the air in the tunnels is thick with suffocating silica dust. According to a BBC report, the average lifespan of a Cerro Rico miner is 40 years. Worse, a UNICEF report found that children as young as 6 years old have worked in its tunnels.

Tin isn’t the only ingredient in an iPhone that’s obtained in ways that don’t quite match Apple’s “Supplier Code of Conduct,” which states that “all workers in our supply chain deserve a fair and ethical workplace.” Continue Reading →

South Africa intends to suspend issuing mining rights – by Tanisha Heiberg and Ed Stoddard (Reuters U.S. – July 21, 2017)

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa intends to suspend the granting of applications for prospecting and mining rights as well as any renewals pending a court case to review new mining laws, the Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane said on Thursday.

Such a move could seriously hamper growth and investment in South Africa’s mining sector, already beset by policy uncertainty, depressed prices, soaring costs and often violent social and labor strife.

“The moratorium would ensure that any applications … are concluded in terms of the 2017 Mining Charter,” Zwane said in a statement. The Charter is part of a wider empowerment drive in South Africa designed to rectify the disparities of apartheid that persist more than two decades since the end of white minority rule in 1994. Continue Reading →

Money from Canadian mining firms vanishes in Congo, report finds – by Geoffrey York (Globe and Mail – July 21, 2017)

Johannesburg — In one of Africa’s poorest countries, more than $750-million (U.S.) in mining revenue disappeared before it could reach the national treasury, an investigation has found.

The money from mining companies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was diverted over a three-year period, with much of it siphoned off by politically connected insiders at opaque tax agencies, according to a report by Global Witness, an independent research group.

The findings are significant for Canadian mining companies, which have been major investors in Congo and have given millions of dollars in payments to official agencies and state enterprises in the country. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: Tanzania questions Acacia Mining staff in row with government (Reuters U.S. – July 21, 2017)

LONDON (Reuters) – Tanzania detained and questioned two senior local Acacia Mining staff at an airport this week in a dispute with the government, two sources said on Friday, and the company said it was having trouble renewing work permits for foreign staff.

Chief Executive Brad Gordon denied a Reuters report that foreign staff were asked to leave by the government due to a dispute over mining licenses and accusations of tax evasion.

He said its local employees had been interviewed by Tanzanian “government agencies” but did not confirm detentions. “We were having difficulty getting work permits renewed. But no foreign nationals have been asked to leave the country. So there may be some confusion in that. That’s a normal part of business,” Gordon told Reuters. Continue Reading →

STATEMENT: Ivanhoe Mines says Bloomberg stories on Ivanhoe’s success in the Democratic Republic of Congo are flawed by a deceptive headline, errors and omissions of critical facts (July 19, 2017)

VANCOUVER, CANADA – An initial story published by Bloomberg News on July 18, 2017, misleads readers with its headline, erroneous reporting and the omission of critical contextual facts that were known to the news organization.

A second story, also published on July 18, contains a false allegation by Bloomberg that Ivanhoe Mines had corrected as part of a detailed statement of facts delivered to Bloomberg seven weeks ago.

On May 26, 2017, Ivanhoe Mines provided a letter to Bloomberg reporter Thomas Wilson that set out critical information related to a planned story that subsequently was published by Bloomberg early on July 18. It became apparent after the story was published that much of Ivanhoe’s factual information had been excluded, which Bloomberg indicated was due to “the limitations of the length of the story.” Of course, this deliberate withholding of critical details was not revealed to Bloomberg’s readers. Continue Reading →

Miners Dig High to Hunt for the Most Valuable Diamonds – by Alexandra Wexler (Wall Street Journal – July 12, 2017)

Surge in demand and looming shortage for the stones is reshaping mining in one of the world’s poorest countries

LETSENG-LA-TERAE, Lesotho—A looming global diamond shortage is driving a small band of adventurous miners to brave bone-chilling winds at the world’s highest mines to extract stones that are worth as much as 20 times the global average.

The excavation is extremely challenging. The diamond-bearing kimberlite formations in the 11,000-foot high Maluti mountains had for years been largely untouched by mining companies, due to the difficulty and cost involved in extracting the stones from such heights.

The mines—which see temperatures dip 30 degrees below zero with wind chill—lie through landlocked and impoverished Lesotho’s steep, narrow, winding mountain passes and past one of southern Africa’s two ski resorts. The roads are often blocked by herdsmen on horseback wrapped in colorful, traditional blankets surrounded by hundreds of their shaggy sheep. Continue Reading →

Ivanhoe’s Congo Success Follows Deals With Kabila’s Brother – by Thomas Wilson (Bloomberg News – July 18, 2017)

In the two decades since billionaire mining investor Robert Friedland founded Ivanhoe Mines Ltd., his small team has made some of the biggest mineral discoveries in the world.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, it has done so while trading and contracting with companies controlled by one of President Joseph Kabila’s brothers, searches of thousands of pages of Congolese corporate records obtained by Bloomberg show.

Ivanhoe’s unearthing of Africa’s largest copper deposit in Congo last year after more than a decade of exploration work has helped quintuple the company’s stock price, making it the best performing share on the main Canadian index over the past 12 months. The discovery adds to other successes by Friedland, which include building the Oyu Tolgoi copper-and-gold mine in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert and discovering the Voisey’s Bay nickel deposit in Canada, which he sold in 1996 for more than $3 billion. He also plans a platinum mine in South Africa. Continue Reading →

A forgotten community: The little town in Niger keeping the lights on in France – by Lucas Destrijcker and Mahadi Diouara (African Arguments – July 18 2017)

Welcome to Arlit, the impoverished uranium capital of Africa.

From Niamey, the capital of the landlocked West African nation of Niger, we call ahead to a desert town in the remote north of the country. “Journalists? On their way here? It’s been a while”, we hear down the phone from our contact. “We welcome you with open arms, but only on the pretence that you’re visiting to interview migrants on their way to Algeria. If they find out you’re poking your nose in their business, it’s a lost cause.”

That same evening, the public bus jolts as it sets off. Destination: the gates of the Sahara. The stuffy subtropical heat gradually fades into scorching drought and plains of seemingly endless ochre sands. About two days later, we pass through a gateway with “Arlit” written on it in rusty letters.

The town of about 120,000 inhabitants is located in one of the Sahel’s most remote regions, not far from the Algerian border. The surrounding area is known to be the operating territory of numerous bandits and armed groups, including Islamist militants. It is like an island in the middle of the desert, an artificial oasis with only one raison d’être: uranium. Continue Reading →

How mining could be a boon for African women – by Geoffrey York (Globe and Mail – July 18, 2017)

In northeastern Congo, unequal pay and cultural taboos have kept women from sharing in the country’s mineral wealth. Activists are trying to change that, and Canada’s ‘feminist’ foreign aid policy has a part to play, Geoffrey York reports

Standing barefoot in a swampy pond, Bibicha Sanao sloshes the muddy water in her basin with an expert motion, panning tenaciously until she finds the hidden treasure: a few tiny slivers of gold. It can be hazardous work. She lifts her pant leg to show the scars from a water snake’s bite. Sometimes she gets sick from the contaminated water and the chilly rain. It’s not much safer when she toils in a nearby gold pit, where she was once buried in a landslide.

Yet, she won’t give it up. Her mining work here in northeastern Congo is crucial for supporting her family, and she’s been doing it for many years – despite obstacles that men never face. Now, activists are fighting to remove those barriers, giving African women a chance at the higher incomes that traditionally go to men, while improving the health and safety of their working conditions. Continue Reading →