R/€ = 14.49
R/$ = 10.50
Au 1294.90 $/oz
Pt 1407.50 $/oz
Sep 09, 2005
Beijing|Johannesburg|AngloCoal|BHP Billiton|Engineering News|Eskom|GDP|Mining Weekly|China|South Africa|United States|Cement|Cement Investment|Cement Plant|Cement Producer|Electricity|Energy Infrastructure|Transport|Transport Infrastructure|European Union|Brian Bruce|John Perlman|Martin Creamer|Limpopo|Shaanxi|Engineering News|Mining Weekly
© Reuse this Every Friday morning, SAfm's AMLive's radio anchor John Perlman speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday's At the Coalface transcript:
Perlman: A big cement investment in Limpopo province. What's that all about?
Creamer: Cement consumption has been soaring in South Africa. If you look at Gauteng levels alone, they're approaching European Union levels of consumption. There is a fear that in 2007 there may be a shortage of cement in South Africa. The big driver has been housing, new housing and modifications to houses, but now there's a lot more on the horizon. Eskom are looking to spend R95-billion in the next five years in the energy infrastructure. There is going to be more transport infrastructure and all these factors coming together prompted the biggest cement producer, that is Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC) to invest R1,36-billion in a new cement plant which will produce an additional million tons of cement a year. They're also looking to be flexible, of course. If that market doesn't show up, they can retire off old-plant. As things stand at the moment, all the forecasts of consumption have been exceeded.
Perlman: Now Martin, there's been a lot of speculation about the boom, particularly looking at the JSE, are we going to see a downturn anytime soon? I believe two top business leaders have got some optimistic views on the subject.
Creamer: Two top business leaders have pulled out graphs, which have been very fascinating. The first has been Chip Goodyear of BHP Billiton, who pulled out a 200-year graph showing the commodity cycle in the United States and pointing to a possible multi-decade growth in commodities market. His graph is fascinating because it takes into account the big pull of the industrial revolution, when electricity was introduced, post-WW II and now he's saying there could be a new secular or long-term growth cycle emerging. Not to say that cycles won't go up and down in the short-term, but the trend he expects in all probablility is upwards for decades. The other business leader, a local one, is Murray & Roberts' Brian Bruce. He pulled out a nice 60-year graph tracking gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) and here we also see that our construction economy, after three decades of decline, is on the cusp of possibly a multi-decade up-turn. That comes against the background of the government now saying our target for GFCF is 25% of GDP. We are only sitting at 17% of GDP at the moment and also that our normal economic growth should be at 6% or 7%. So, those two optimistic scenarios aren't going to have people running out and betting their companies, but I think it does point to the need for building this longer-term, multi-decade scenario into your planning, particularly with regard to human resources in South Africa, so that people look long and train people.
Perlman: Of course, one of the big drivers of growth of any kind is China, and I believe one of our giants, Anglo American, is doing some business there. Tell us about it.
Creamer: The Shaanxi province is the coal province of China and their delegates were in town last week for an investment symposium in Johannesburg. The hot topic was the issue of this investment by South African mining company AngloCoal in particular, part of Anglo American, investing in China.
AngloCoal has been exploring in Shaanxi, the coal province of China for some time now with considerable success and that success has led to an investment. They had an IPO recently in the biggest energy coal company there in which Anglo American made an investment. The strategy there is to keep looking for coal, but at the same time already the indications are that there could be a long-term coalmine between AngloCoal and the local Chinese investors. They're talking about a 50-year coalmine plus additional exploration going ahead. China is a big supplier of coal but it has been undercapitalised. We're talking about an area which is 500 km west of Beijing and it's in this west that it's rather depressed, and people are looking for entries to investment there and this is the sort of capital formation they're looking for. It will also lead to more safety in their coalmines, because of course, we're constantly reading about hundreds of people dying in Chinese coal mines, so this will be a big challenge for any investor to make sure that in the mines they have, the people don't die at the rate that they've been dying.
Perlman: Martin Creamer joins us again at the same time next Friday for another look at what's happening at the Coal Face. Martin is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly.
Edited by: Yolande Botes© Reuse this Comment Guidelines
Recent Research Reports
Steel 2014: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2014 report provides an overview of the global steel industry and particularly of South Africa’s steel sector over the past year, including details of production and consumption, as well as the country's primary carbon steel and stainless...
Projects in Progress 2014 - First Edition (PDF Report)
This publication contains insight into progress at the delayed Medupi and Kusile coal-fired projects, in Mpumalanga and Limpopo respectively, as well as at the Ingula pumped-storage scheme, which is under construction on the border between the Free State and...
Automotive 2014: A review of South Africa's automotive sector (PDF Report)
The report provides insight into the business environment, the key participants in the sector, local construction demand, geographic diversification, competition within the sector, corporate activity, skills, safety, environmental considerations and the challenges...
Construction 2014: A review of South Africa's construction sector (PDF Report)
Construction data released during 2013 hints at a halt to the decline in the industry during the last few years, with some commentators averring that the industry could be poised for recovery. However, others have urged caution, noting that the prospects for a...
Electricity 2014: A Review of South Africa's Electricity Sector (PDF Report)
This report provides an overview of the state of electricity generation and transmission in South Africa and examines electricity planning, investment in generation capacity, electricity tariffs, the role of independent power producers and demand-focused initiatives,...
Defence 2013: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Defence Report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key players in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the defence sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial...
This Week's Magazine
The Electronic Systems Laboratory (ESL) of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Stellenbosch University is strongly reaffirming its position as one of South Africa’s leading centres for satellite technology and expertise. It is currently...
The world’s lowest-cost diesel-electric locomotive is not made in China, but in Pretoria, at RRL Grindrod Locomotives’ newly upgraded 30 000 m2 plant. The company’s locomotive pricing is “more competitive than any other original-equipment manufacturer (OEM)...
The South African Defence Review 2012, released to the public at the end of last month (despite the year given in its title) recommends the creation of the post of Chief Defence Scientist. This official would be responsible for the management of defence technology...
AltX-listed engineering technology company Ansys has been awarded an R188-million contract by Transnet to supply integrated dashboard display systems to the freight rail utility’s locomotives. Black-owned and controlled Ansys developed the bespoke integrated system...
South Africa’s sole nuclear power station Koeberg, which is located in the Western Cape, breached a major operations milestone on April 4, which marked the thirtieth anniversary of Unit 1 having been connected to the grid. Eskom, which operates the two-unit plant,...