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Cablegate: South Africa: Minerals and Energy Newsletter "the Assay" -

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SUBJECT: South Africa: Minerals and Energy Newsletter "THE ASSAY" -
Issue 4, 1-15 March, 2008


This cable is not for Internet distribution.

1. (SBU) Introduction: The purpose of this newsletter, initiated in
January 2004, is to highlight minerals and energy developments in
South Africa. This includes trade and investment as well as supply.
South Africa hosts world-class deposits of gold, diamonds, platinum
group metals, chromium, zinc, titanium, vanadium, iron, manganese,
antimony, vermiculite, zircon, alumino-silicates, fluorspar and
phosphate rock, and is a major exporter of steam coal. South Africa
is also a leading producer and exporter of ferroalloys of chromium,
vanadium, and manganese. The information contained in the
newsletters is based on public sources and does not reflect the
views of the United States Government. End introduction.
--------
HOT NEWS
--------

---------------------------
DRC Mineral Contract Review
---------------------------

1. (SBU) Mining is again booming in the DRC, although the
government's mining contract review has created some uncertainty.
The DRC's once mighty mining sector, with a treasure trove of
largely unexploited concessions, saw its output of copper, cobalt
and diamonds decrease and its infrastructure crumble during years of
conflict, corruption and neglect. The old Congo produced around
500,000 tons of copper per year in the 1980s, but just 17,000 tons
in 2005. Since the confirmation of Joseph Kabila as President, some
stability has returned to the DRC and mining is again booming. The
huge province of Katanga has seen large investments from
international mining companies such as Freeport McMoran, De Beers,
BHP Billiton, and from a large number of medium and junior
exploration and mining companies such as First Quantum (Australian)
and Metorex Mining (South African). Many mineral contracts were
issued during the years of turmoil, which the Kabila government
considers to be one-sided in the favor of companies. The government
therefore set up a Review Panel in 2007 to re-evaluate (and
renegotiate) all mineral contracts to ensure that the DRC receives a
larger slice of the benefits from its mineral resources.

2. (SBU) The DRC government released its Mining Contract Review
Report in mid-March. The review panel recommended steps to overhaul
the country's minerals sector including renegotiating several major
mining contracts and cancelling others. The report stated that the
government intended to ensure efficient management and adequate
control of the mining sector so that Congolese mines benefited the
Congolese nation. The report recommends:
-- renegotiation of the contract between state mining
company Gecamines and Freeport-McMoran for the
development of the Tenke Fungurume project
-- renegotiation of contracts between state diamond
miner MIBA and BHP-Billiton and De Beers
-- increasing state mining company OKIMO's stake in the
Kilo Gold joint venture with AngloGold Ashanti from
13.8 percent to 45 percent


-- increasing the annual fee paid to OKIMO by
AngloGold
-- cancelling contracts awarded to some smaller
companies.
Q companies.
No mention was made as to how or who would pay for the increased
stakes for state and local companies.

----
GOLD
----

----------------------------------
Re-Opening Central Rand Gold Mines
----------------------------------

3. (SBU) Central Rand Gold (CRG) was formed to mine gold ore and
reefs left behind in SA's central rand gold district where mining
ceased in the 1970's. CEO Greg James recently announced an increase

PRETORIA 00000724 002 OF 006


of 1.76 million ounces in the company's gold resources, bringing the
total resource to 35.5 million ounces. The company has identified
three probable targets for shallow mining of the Kimberley Reef
group and the Main Reef group at their property west of
Johannesburg. CRG plans to begin production at a rate of 100,000
ounces per annum by the end of 2009, 250,000 ounces in 2010, and 1
million ounces by 2012. CRG expects to receive its mining license
in August, clearing the way to begin mining over a 40-kilometer
deposit strike length.

4. (SBU) The land CRG has applied for was mined by a number of
companies for decades leading up to the 1970s. Those companies
targeted the high-grade Main Reef, whereas CRG plans to mine the
lower grade Kimberley and Bird Reefs, which have become economic at
the increased gold price. Waste dumps that previously covered
shallower parts of the reefs have largely been retreated, opening
the way for renewed mining operations. CRG has also been approached
by groups interested in potential uranium byproducts, but James said
talks have been put on hold so that the company can focus on
bringing the project to fruition and on completing legislated social
and labor plans and the environmental impact assessment (EIA). Five
existing shafts have been re-opened to allow for sampling between
the 130 and 300-meter levels below the surface.

------------
POWER CRUNCH
------------

---------------------------------------
BHP-Billiton to Cut Aluminum Production
---------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Aluminum smelting is the most energy intensive of all
mineral processing operations. About 1MW of electricity is needed
to produce 500 tons of aluminum metal. BHP-Billiton's three plants,
two in KwaZulu/Natal Province and one near Maputo in Mozambique,
produce some 1.2 million tons of aluminum metal per year and require
a total of about 2,400MW of power. This is equivalent to the power
needed for the rest of the KwaZulu/Natal Province. Eskom is
searching to save every megawatt it can and the "buy-back" of power
from aluminum smelters is high on its list of priorities. Aluminum
smelters also require a virtually uninterrupted supply of power and
any cut lasting more than four hours has the potential to cause the
metal to freeze in the smelter pots, which would cause massive and
costly damage to the plant. (Comment. BHP Billiton's spokesperson
confirmed to media publication Mining Weekly Online that the company
has taken a corporate decision to phase out its business links with
Standard Bank, after the Standard Bank's Chairman suggested at a
Business Leadership meeting with government that BHP-B shut down its
power-heavy Richards Bay Hillside aluminum smelter because it added
little value to the economy. End Comment.).

6. (SBU) Eskom's announced 10 percent power cut to BHP-B's aluminum
smelters is insufficient to sustain full production. The company
has thus decided to close 120,000 tons of output, which will allow
the remaining facilities to operate at full power. This will allow
Qthe remaining facilities to operate at full power. This will allow
Eskom to recover 240MW of power, but is likely to cause BHP-B and SA
to lose nearly $340 million in annual revenues and foreign exchange
respectively, place an estimated 800 jobs in jeopardy, damage SA's
reputation as an investment destination, and postpone Rio
Tinto-Alcan's decision to go ahead with a new $2.7 billion
720,000-ton aluminum smelter at Coega, at least until Eskom can
guarantee an adequate and reliable power supply. Rio Tinto, the
SAG, and Eskom are currently reviewing the terms of the Coega
smelter project in order to align its timing with the availability
of future generation capacity. Rio Tinto-Alcan has said that it
would work with the SAG to minimize the impact of the potential
rescheduling on regional economic development.

-----------
ENVIRONMENT
-----------

------------------------------------------
Fertilizer Company Gets Credit for Carbons
------------------------------------------

PRETORIA 00000724 003 OF 006

7. (SBU) Diversified chemical and fertilizer company Omnia announced
on March 17 its 15-million Euro agreement with the International
Finance Corporation (IFC) for the purchase of up to one million
carbon credits from Omnia over the next five years. The Omnia Clean
Development Mechanism (CDM) project Envinox could generate 420,000
Certified Emission Reduction (CER) credits per year from the nitrous
oxide destruction facility installed at their nitric acid plant at
Sasolburg (nitrous oxide is a green-house gas). Omnia has indicated
that carbon credits generated by the plant could add about $7.5
million per year to the company's revenues. This is the first
carbon delivery guarantee agreement of its kind in sub-Saharan
Africa, and only the second in the world, whereby the IFC mitigates
the country and project risk, making the carbon credits accessible
to a wider range of international buyers. According to the IFC
Southern Africa Region Manager, the IFC has committed to purchase a
minimum of 50 percent of Omnia's CERs for the next five years and
guarantees delivery of the credits to buyers under the Kyoto
Protocol.

---------------------------------
Green Light for New Power Station
---------------------------------

8. (SBU) South Africa's Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister
dismissed appeals against construction of Eskom's new 5,400MW
coal-fired power station Project Bravo, planned for Witbank in
Mpumalanga Province. The plant is part of Eskom's plans to boost
generation capacity to alleviate the country's current serious
capacity shortfall. The plant is to be fitted with the most
advanced air pollution abatement equipment installed in a South
African power station, including flue-gas desulphurization
technology to remove 90 percent of the sulfur dioxide (SO2) from the
emissions. The Minister also said Bravo should be
carbon-capture-ready and would have to submit a report detailing
preferred capture technology options before proceeding with
construction.

------------------
MINING LEGISLATION
------------------

------------------------------------------
SAG to Review Latest Draft of Royalty Bill
------------------------------------------

9. (SBU) The first draft of SA's Royalty Bill was issued in 2003,
following the 2002 approval of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources
Development Bill (MPRDA), which legislated that all mineral rights
must revert to the custodianship of the SAG. The Royalty Bill will
govern the way mining companies are taxed on their production.
Initial reaction from industry to the first draft was negative
because rates were based on gross mineral revenues and were also
considered to be too high. Since then, the Department of Finance
(which is ultimately responsible for the bill), Industry and the
Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) have been in negotiation and
a number of revised drafts have been issued for comment. The third
and supposedly final draft was released for public comment in
December 2007. This draft uses a formula to calculate royalty rates
payable for each mine. The mining industry has accepted this
Qpayable for each mine. The mining industry has accepted this
formula in principle, but calculations have shown some unintended
consequences. Namely, the bill has not taken into consideration the
huge increases in commodity prices nor the escalating capital costs
of new mines and mine expansions, and this has resulted in
calculated rates being higher than those proposed in the 2003 draft.


10. (SBU) The mining industry and labor have raised concerns over
the effect the latest draft would have on production and employment
in the country's mining sector, which is already struggling with
reduced and uncertain power supply, rising production costs and a
shortage of skilled workers. Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa
Sonjica said that the SAG had taken note of mining industry concerns
and her department would hold talks with the Department of Finance
on the issue. She also said she did not expect the bill to be
promulgated in its current form. She said there was a fine line

PRETORIA 00000724 004 OF 006


between ensuring that locals derive economic benefit from mining
without deterring valuable foreign investment.
------
ENERGY
------

------------------------------------------
Eskom's Massive Price Hike Sparks Reaction
------------------------------------------

11. (SBU) Power utility Eskom's call for a 53 percent electricity
tariff increase (on top of the 14.2 percent increase already
granted) has met with concern by analysts, economists, trade Unions,
and the ruling ANC Party, all expressing anxiety over the impact on
inflation and on the economy, industry and South African consumers.
A leading economist said that the increase would take $4.5 billion
out of the economy, and equates to a 1.8 percent increase in the
interest rate, already at 14.5 percent for borrowers.

-------------------------------------
Westinghouse Included as PBMR Partner
-------------------------------------

12. (SBU) South Africa's advanced nuclear reactor program PBMR
(Pebble Bed Modular Reactor) has announced that it has finalized a
new shareholders agreement with U.S. company Westinghouse Electric
making it a partner in the project. Westinghouse already held a 15
percent share in PBMR, but legislation required the implementation
of a new shareholder agreement, which offered Westinghouse an
important opportunity to highlight its commitment to South African
nuclear technology as it competes head-to-head with Areva of France
for up to 20,000 megawatts of new nuclear power build through 2025.
The SAG aims to include PBMR as part of its new nuclear build mix.
Other partners in PBMR include state-owned Eskom and the Industrial
Development Corporation. The high-temperature, helium-cooled PBMR
technology aims to improve safety and efficiency by employing 165MW
modules and nuclear fuel sealed in tennis ball-sized graphite
"pebbles".

-------------------------------------
Sasol Looks at CTL to Cut Oil Imports
-------------------------------------

13. (SBU) The Sasol board announced its commitment to the proposed
new 80,000 barrel-per-day coal-to-liquids plant project dubbed
"Mafutha", by deciding to spend $40 million on feasibility studies
for the project, whose location is yet to be determined. Sasol CEO
Pat Davies stated that the plant would be built so as to be
carbon-capture-ready, with the disposal of the CO2 to be determined
as part of the feasibility study. Davies also said that Sasol was
working with Eskom and the government "to see what else we can bring
to bear using our technology and our feed-stocks to alleviate South
Africa's electricity shortage", but stressed that Sasol's primary
function was to keep the country "wet as far as fuels are
concerned". Sasol earlier announced a joint venture with Mozambique
to construct a $157-million gas compression station at the border to
facilitate a 20 percent expansion of natural gas delivery. Sasol
clarified that the additional gas from Mozambique would be for its
own needs to reduce reliance on the Eskom grid, and not available
for other companies' cogeneration projects. Sasol separately
Qfor other companies' cogeneration projects. Sasol separately
announced a 15 percent increase in operating profits for second half
2007 due to high oil prices, but offset somewhat by the stronger
rand in 2007 and losses on an oil hedge. Sasol also unveiled final
terms for its $3 billion BEE transaction aimed at addressing skills
development in science and technology.

---------------------------------------
Sasol Confident on China Business Risks
---------------------------------------


14. (SBU) Sasol is the world's leading producer of liquid fuel from
coal (CTL) and is busy with the second phase of a bankable
feasibility study for two CTL plants in China. General Manager for
International Energy Leon Strauss said Sasol had secured favorable
participation for itself in the project. Studies undertaken between

PRETORIA 00000724 005 OF 006


2002 and 2005 in Shaanxi Province and the Ningxia Hui region
indicated that two CTL liquid fuels plants, together with dedicated
coal mines, were feasible. Each plant would have a production
capacity of 84,000 barrels per day. If the go-ahead is given, the
plants will likely come on stream around 2017. However, Sasol CEO
Pat Davies pointed out that there is a massive demand for skilled
people in the energy sector, making the completion of projects on
time and on budget very difficult.

15. (SBU) Because of Sasol's concerns about the protection of
intellectual property rights (IP) in China, the first phase of the
bankable study put in place economic enablers, including securing
Sasol's participation in the CTL project. Strauss declined to say
what the ownership structure would be, but stressed that Sasol would
not embark on multi-billion dollar projects in China without a
sizeable stake of around 50 percent in the projects. He said Sasol
only looked at commercial opportunities that gave appropriate reward
for the risk of taking their IP to China, but he said Sasol was
confident with both projects. Strauss said the way was clear for
Sasol to go into a full-blown feasibility study and the Sasol Board
had approved this phase in December 2007. A tender went out in
January for international contractors to assist in the process and
the preferred bidder is to be decided in May. The end of 2009
should see completion of the feasibility study for the two Chinese
projects.

-----------------------------
New Biodiesel Plant for Coega
-----------------------------


16. (SBU) Coega is SA's new deep-water port and economic development
zone (EDZ), which is under construction on the south coast of the
Eastern Cape Province. The SAG decided to build the port to boost
economic development in one of the country's poorest provinces, and
the EDZ authority has sought to encourage key industries to
establish operations in the zone. A new client is Australian-owned
firm Rainbow Nation Renewable Fuels (RNRF), which has applied for a
license to produce 288 million liters of biodiesel a year from a
$2-billion plant being built at Coega. The plant will be the
biggest in Africa, using one million tons of soybeans to produce
250,000 tons of soybean oil and 800,000 tons of animal feed. A
portion of the oil will be used to produce biodiesel. RNRF MD Geoff
Mordt said that the plant would be commissioned in late 2009 and the
company had secured a 48MW power supply.

17. (SBU) A major concern for all biofuel projects is the likely
impact on local food supply and prices. Initially, the bulk of
RNRF's soybean feedstock will be imported. South Africa's current
production is about 300,000 tons per year and Mordt said that the
plant would support local commercial and small-scale farmers to
increase the country's production from currently unused land. In
this way, South Africa could source nearly 100 percent of the
required soybean feedstock within five years. RNRF must comply with
BEE Charter requirements by selling a stake in the company to
QBEE Charter requirements by selling a stake in the company to
black-owned companies. Mordt said that the operation would create
350 new direct permanent jobs and 725 indirect jobs.

---------------
AFRICA IN BRIEF
---------------

-----------------------------------
Electricity Expansion in Mozambique
-----------------------------------

18. (SBU) For years Mozambique has relied on its Cahora Bassa
hydro-electric plant on the Zambezi River and the South African
transmission network for its power supply. Its growing economy and
the regional demand growth of 1,000MW per annum have necessitated
planning for additional power. The Mozambican Finance Minister
stated in mid-2007 that investments would be made to expand the
country's electricity sector to connect more than one million people
to the national grid. New power projects include:
-- 750MW gas-fired station in Inhambane Province
-- 2,000MW coal-fired station on the Moatize coalfield

PRETORIA 00000724 006 OF 006


in Tete Province
-- 1,200MW hydro-electric plant (Mpenda Nkua) in
Tete Province at an estimated cost of $2.3 billion
-- $383 million expansion of the Cahora Bassa power
plant from 2,000MW to 14,000MW.
Expansions to the power sector reflect the government's support for
industrialization and its desire to attract foreign direct
investment though the availability of cheap power, as it did to
attract BHP-B's Mozal Aluminum Smelter. SA offers a ready market
for this power.

-------------------------------------
Botswana's World-Class Diamond Centre
-------------------------------------

19. (SBU) The world's largest and most advanced diamond sorting
facility has been opened in Gaborone. The Diamond Trading Company
Botswana (DTCB), will sort and value all the rough diamonds produced
by Debswana, and for the first time conduct local sales and
marketing activities for rough diamonds - DTCB and Debswana are
50/50 partnerships jointly owned by De Beers and the Government of
Botswana. De Beers said the initiative is expected to create a
sustainable downstream industry, with approximately 3,000 new jobs
in the cutting, polishing, sales, and marketing areas. DTC
International will aggregate the majority of De Beers' global
production in Botswana by 2009 instead of London.

-------------------------
Eskom Spurns Namibian Gas
-------------------------

20. (SBU) The medium-sized Kudu gas-field owned by NamPower and
Tullow Oil (Irish) and operated by Tullow lies 170 kilometers off
the Namibian coast. It was discovered by Chevron in 1973 and later
jointly developed by Shell and Chevron-Texaco after numerous delays.
Both companies decided to withdraw in 2003 and sold their Kudu
stakes to Tullow Oil in 2004. The project has since been looking
for a market for its gas. One option considered was to build a
400MW to 800MW gas turbine power station at Oranjemund, the
diamond-mining town at the mouth of the Orange River, and sell 400MW
of power to Eskom. Eskom has so far rejected any deal apparently
because of price and foreign currency exposure. Until an agreement
can be struck, Tullow intends to continue to investigate other
options for the gas, including producing compressed and liquefied
natural gas, and building a smaller power station to meet Namibia's
needs.

-----------------------------
Zambia Increases Mining Taxes
-----------------------------

21. (SBU) Zambia's parliament approved an amendment to the Mines and
Minerals Act on March 26 that will increase taxes and abolish
existing agreements between the government and mining companies,
according to the Zambian Chamber of Mines. The bill raises the
effective tax rate on mining from 31 percent to 47 percent and will
be signed into law by the President on April 1. The new
dispensation will increase royalties on sales five-fold to 3
percent. Zambia is Africa's biggest copper producer and expects to
earn an additional $450 million this year from the higher mining
taxes.

BOST

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