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Zimbabwe mining minister invites De Beers, Vast Resources to return
13 December 2018, 3:19 PM

De Beers and Vast Resources will be allowed to explore for diamonds in Zimbabwe, which would make them the first listed companies to mine there in that sector for two years, Mining Minister Winston Chitando said.

A spokesperson for De Beers, an Anglo American unit, said in an email it was not mining in Zimbabwe and did not intend to.

Vast Resources said it could not comment.

Zimbabwe has been working to rebuild investor confidence since long-term leader Robert Mugabe was ousted in late 2017.

This month its mining ministry said it would let in two new companies but did not name them.

On Wednesday, Chitando told Reuters De Beers and Vast Resources would be allowed to mine, but could not comment on any changes to ownership rules. “Those are the details that have tobe thrashed out,” he said.

Vast Resources signed a memorandum of understanding with Botswana Diamonds in May to form a special purpose vehicle majority-owned by Vast to develop resources in Zimbabwe.

In November, Chitando said Zimbabwe did not plan to change radically its ownership laws for platinum and diamonds.

Few miners doubt the potential of Zimbabwe’s mineral resources and it is among the world’s leading diamond-producing countries. But some investors are concerned about how much money companies can take out because of dollar shortages.

Mugabe accused De Beers of looting the largest diamond fields in Marange in eastern Zimbabwe, where production is dominated by state-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company.

De Beers denied the charge.

Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company is one of two firms currently allowed to mine diamonds there.

The other, Murowa Diamonds, majority-owned by Rio Tinto until June 2015, is the only private company mining diamonds in south central Zimbabwe.

In early 2016, Mugabe’s government evicted all diamond miners from Marange, saying their licences had expired after they declined to merge under the state-owned mining firm.

As part of its quest to attract foreign investment, Zimbabwe’s new government has liberalised indigenisation laws for many minerals but still limits foreign ownership of platinum and diamond projects to a minority, with the state holding 51%.

Louis Oosthuizen
Oosthuizen three ahead in pursuit of SA, British Open double
8 December 2018, 9:55 PM

Louis Oosthuizen took a three-shot third-round lead in the EPGA South African Open Saturday as he seeks to become the sixth golfer to win the event and the British Open.

South Africans Ernie Els, Bobby Locke and Gary Player, Swede Henrik Stenson and New Zealander Bob Charles have won the two oldest national championships in the world.

Oosthuizen carded a four-under-par 67 for a 199 total at Randpark Golf Club in Johannesburg while overnight leader and fellow South African Charl Schwartzel slumped to a one-over 72.

Former Masters champion Schwartzel shares second place on 202 with Zambian Madalitso Muthiya (71) and Matt Wallace (68), hoping to become the fourth English winner in five seasons.

A group of eight are three strokes further back going into the final round with four-time major winner Els among them after a 68.

“It was a tough round but I played well,” said Oosthuizen, whose world ranking of 36 is the highest in the field.

“I was left off the tee with a few bad drives but fixed that problem during the inward half of my round.

“My putting gave me a lot of pleasure today. I could not make anything yesterday, but today the makeable ones went in.

“What I need tomorrow is 18 more holes of good golf, taking one shot at a time,” added the eight-time European Tour winner.

Schwartzel, twice runner-up in the South African Open, never recovered from bogeys on the first and third holes and had to wait until the 12th for his only birdie.

A seesaw round for Muthiya included five birdies, a bogey and two double bogeys as he eyes becoming the first Zambian winner on the European Tour.

Wallace, the second highest ranked challenger at Randpark, was another to experience a mixed round with six birdies and three back-nine bogeys.

However, he is the form golfer among the contenders with four European Tour titles since May last year and could pose the greatest threat to Oosthuizen.

Apart from 1.095 million euros in prize money, three 2019 British Open places are up for grabs Sunday.

Black barrels of crude oil
Slowing demand and a supply glut to drain oil’s gains in 2019 – Poll
30 November 2018, 3:20 PM

Oil analysts are increasingly pessimistic about the prospect of a price rally next year, when the outlook for demand is uncertain and supply is growing at breakneck speed, even though the market expects OPEC to cut output, a Reuters poll showed.

A survey of 38 economists and analysts forecast Brent crude to average $74.50 a barrel in 2019, lower than the $76.88 outlook last month.

The poll predicted Brent would average $73.20 in 2018, mostly in line with the $73 average for the global benchmark so far this year.

“In the first half of next year we expect upward price pressure resulting from OPEC production cuts,” said Adri à Morron Salmeron, economist at Caixa Bank Research.

“Then, we expect downward price pressures from an uptick in US shale production in the second half, as bottlenecks will disappear, and a deceleration of global growth.”

Of the 32 contributors who participated in both the October and November polls, 16 cut their 2019 average price forecast for Brent.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries as well as Russia and other producers meet in Vienna on December 6/7 in an attempt to support crude prices, which have fallen by over 30% from early October’s four-year high of $86.74.

The group could announce cuts of anywhere between 1 and 1.4 million barrels per day, analysts said.

“The oil market is definitely oversupplied at the moment.

Therefore, OPEC will decide to cut output in December,” said Frank Schallenberger, head of commodity research at LBBW.

“The recent drop in prices was so strong that I think the non-OPEC members will either agree to freeze production or join in the cut.”

A slowing global economy could erode oil demand growth next year, when supply from non-OPEC countries is forecast to expand at a record pace.

Citi had the lowest 2019 forecast for Brent at $57 a barrel,while ABN Amro and Raymond James had the highest, at $90.

FUNDAMENTAL GLOOM

The US decision to grant waivers to countries that buy crude from Iran, hit by sanctions on its energy exports, has changed the dynamics in a market already under pressure from soaring output from the world’s top three oil producers, the United States, Russia and Saudi Arabia, analysts said.

“Uncertainty over US sanctions against Iran had made the market fixated with supply.

The waivers changed the arithmetic, raising the possibility of a supply glut developing in 2019,”said Konstantinos Venetis, senior economist at TSL Research.

Non-OPEC output could rise by 1.5 to 2.2 million bpd in 2019, led by US shale, a few of the analysts said.

“Sharp increases in US production will be a key impediment in upside potential for oil prices in 2019,” said Benjamin Lu,commodities analyst at Phillip Futures.

The poll forecast US light crude to average $67.45 a barrel in 2019, down from $70.15 predicted in the previous poll.

The contract has averaged about $66.40 so far in 2018.

Adding to the possible glut was a recovery in output from Nigeria and Libya, excluded from previous cuts because of production declines caused by unrest.

On the other hand, oil demand was seen growing by between 0.9 and 1.5 million bpd in 2019, compared with 1.1 to 1.5 million bpd projected in the previous month’s poll.

“On the demand side, the main driver is the question how far worldwide economic growth will slow in 2019 and how far this will lead to lower dynamics of oil demand next year,” LBBW’s Schallenberger said.

Motor cars
Hamilton ends season with a win in Abu Dhabi
25 November 2018, 8:08 PM

Five times world champion Lewis Hamilton signed off in style on the Formula One season on Sunday with victory in Abu Dhabi, his 11th win of the campaign, and a points record.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished second with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen third.

“I am so happy right now,” said Hamilton after Hollywood actor Will Smith brought down the chequered flag at the floodlit Yas Marina circuit on Hamilton’s 73rd career win.

The Briton, who has won 51 of the 100 races in the V6 turbo hybrid era, became the first driver to score more than 400 points in a season with a final tally of 408.

His victory also left him 18 wins away from Michael Schumacher’s all-time record.

Two times world champion Fernando Alonso, in his farewell race with McLaren, had hoped to sign off in the points but finished 11th.

With both championships already won, Hamilton taking his in Mexico with two races to spare and Mercedes sealing their fifth successive constructors’ and drivers’ double in Brazil, Sunday’s focus was on the race and those moving on — particularly Alonso.

Hamilton, Vettel and the Spaniard — three great champions — spun their cars in a cloud of smoke at the end of their slowing down lap, before stepping out for hugs and words of mutual respect.

Orlando Pirates' Xola Mlambo
Pirates deliver a cracker of a game against Chiefs
24 November 2018, 7:57 PM

Orlando Pirates supporters got an early Christmas present from their team.

Pirates beat arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs 2-1 at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday afternoon to advance to the final of this season’s Telkom Knockout.

This was the Buccanners third win against Amakhosi this year.

Chiefs are still winless against Pirates since December 2014.

Chiefs dominated the early proceedings, but it was Thembinkosi Lorch who put Pirates ahead after receiving a defense splitting pass from Pule.

Pirates joy was shortlived, with Colombian Leonardo Castro finding the equaliser five minutes later.

Finally, Pirates restored their lead with Zambian Justin Shonga scoring from inside the box, six minutes from full time.

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