From Creamer Media in Johannesburg, this is the Real Economy Report. Our top stories this week: Sasol's Pat Davies speaks to us about the group's upstream gas ambitions, WBHO's CEO discusses the construction industry's margins and, African Rainbow Minerals CEO talks on ferrous metals and coal expansions.
Energy group Sasol is keen to get its hands on more natural gas to fully exploit its gas-to-liquids technology. Terence Creamer reports.
Securing access to new gas reserves is a significant strategic thrust for petrochemicals group Sasol. The JSE-listed company is already actively pursuing opportunities in Australia, Mozambique and Papua New Guinea and views further access to natural gas as vital to building integrated gas-to-liquids, or GTL, projects across the world. Sasol CEO Pat Davies.
Sasol CEO Pat Davies
Davies insists, too, that most of the teething problems at the $1-billion-plus Oryx joint venture with Qatar Petroleum are now in hand, despite the fact that the plant has still not reached its design capacity of 34 000 bbl/d.
This greater confidence can also be seen in the intent it is showing upstream, where, if can't find the gas, it's prepared to buy it.
The globalisation of Sasol's coveted coal-to-liquids technology is also advancing, with movement in both China and India. And, Davies is particularly enthused about recent progress in China.
The company now plans to spend about $140million on a feasibility study, and hopes to make a final investment decision once that is completed during the course of 2009.
We'll be back after this short commercial break.
Mitsubishi Fuso advert
South Africa's construction boom has seen the industry become increasingly profitable - but exactly how long can the good times last? Irma Venter finds out.
Construction is certainly a much more lucrative business than three of fours years ago. Along with its peers, JSE-listed construction company WBHO, is cashing in on the current boom, with the company's operating margin at 8,3%, up from 5,1% only a year ago. However, warns CEO Louwtjie Nel, producing more of the same in the current financial year will become increasingly difficult.
WBHO CEO Louwtjie Nel
The construction boom has brought some pain of its own, adds Nel.
South Africa's black-controlled African Rainbow Minerals is flying high with record earnings. Mining Weekly editor Martin Creamer spoke to ARM CEO André Wilkens about the company's future prospects.
Manganese is earning ARM a fortune. What's driving its 65% margin of profit?
ARM CEO Andre Wilkens
And what of future iron-ore volumes?
ARM is also looking to a good energy-coal future.
And now for a sneak preview of this week's Engineering News magazine:
With Africa emerging as a key market, brewer Heineken and its partners are preparing to enter the belly of the beast in South Africa
We report that a private aviation group is working on its own attack-helicopter design
And, read about Gary Player and Ian Player's plans to set a new environmental benchmark with their Waterberg golf estate
And in Mining Weekly this week:
We report that the Pallinghurst mining group has come home in a blaze of coloured-gemstone glory
An announcement from Botswana's minerals Minister that the country is negotiating for far earlier, accelerated power
And, we report on Exxaro's Inyanda mine being the key to the group's coal-export aspirations
That's Creamer Media's Real Economy Report. Join us again next week for more news and insight into South Africa's real economy.