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Photo of the Week

HYDROGEN HAULING

20th May 2022 A prototype zero-emission hydrogen-powered mine haul truck was unveiled by Anglo American at the Mogalakwena platinum mine, in Limpopo, this month. The truck is capable of carrying a 290 t payload and generates more power than its diesel predecessor. A 2 700 hp diesel engine has been replaced... 

HYDROGEN HAULING: A prototype zero-emission hydrogen-powered mine haul truck was unveiled by Anglo American at the Mogalakwena platinum mine, in Limpopo, this month. The truck is capable of carrying a 290 t payload and generates more power than its diesel predecessor. A 2700 hp diesel engine has been replaced with eight parallel fuel cells, totalling 837 kW, and a 1.2 MWh lithium-ion battery. The haul truck has been described as an important step in the group’s pathway to carbon-neutral operations by 2040.

RECORD REBOUND

13th May 2022 Egypt’s Suez Canal recorded its highest monthly revenue to date in April, when ship-transit fees surged to $629-million as traffic rebounded from the impact of Covid. The total number of ships passing through the 193-km waterway linking the Red and Mediterranean seas increased by 6.3% from a year... 

RECORD REBOUND: Egypt’s Suez Canal recorded its highest monthly revenue to date in April, when ship-transit fees surged to $629-million as traffic rebounded from the impact of Covid. The total number of ships passing through the 193-km waterway linking the Red and Mediterranean seas increased by 6.3% from a year ago to 1 929 vessels. The number of oil tankers, liquefied natural gas tankers and container carriers increased by 25.8%, 12% and 9% respectively in April versus a year ago, Reuters reports. Photograph: Reuters

COLLIDER RESTARTS

6th May 2022 After a break of more than three years for maintenance and upgrading, CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) began operating again late last month, when two beams of protons circulated in opposite directions around the particle accelerator’s 27-km ring. Preparations are now under way for the LHC’s... 

COLLIDER RESTARTS: After a break of more than three years for maintenance and upgrading, CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) began operating again late last month, when two beams of protons circulated in opposite directions around the particle accelerator’s 27-km ring. Preparations are now under way for the LHC’s third run, during which a record number of collision experiments will be conducted at record energy levels. These collisions will allow international teams of physicists at to study the Higgs boson in great detail and put the Standard Model of particle physics and its various extensions to the most stringent tests yet. Photograph: 2022 CERN

DARK DAYS

29th April 2022 DARK DAYS: South Africa’s electricity crisis has its roots in poor policy decisions that span nearly three decades, starting with the failure to implement the 1998 White Paper. Administration after administration has failed to tackle the crisis, which has been amplified by stop-start investment,... 

DARK DAYS: South Africa’s electricity crisis has its roots in poor policy decisions that span nearly three decades, starting with the failure to implement the 1998 White Paper. Administration after administration has failed to tackle the crisis, which has been amplified by stop-start investment, serious corruption, construction delays and a worrying skills flight. The overworked and undermaintained coal fleet is now decommissioning itself, leaving South Africans facing the prospect of a cold and dark winter, during which there is a worst-case risk of 101 days of load-shedding.

WRONG TRACK?

22nd April 2022 Serious questions are being asked about the design of Transnet’s slot-sale process. The State-owned utility recently launched a bidding process for 16 rail slots, which will be sold ‘voetstoots’ to third-party operators for a period of two years on a take-or-pay basis. However, potential... 

Photo of the week

NICKEL TURMOIL

15th April 2022 he Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Bank of England are undertaking reviews into the governance, market oversight and risk management of the London Metal Exchange (LME), following recent turmoil that paralysed the nickel market. Bloomberg reports that the FCA will review the suspension and... 

Photo of the week

NEW NARRATIVE

8th April 2022 Sandton was definitely another country when the great and the good of corporate South Africa met with top ranking government officials and Ministers for the fourth South Africa Investment Conference. Nevertheless, Discovery CEO Adrian Gore was able to strike a somewhat real chord when he called... 

Pic of the week

EXPORT CONSTRAINTS

1st April 2022 While several South African coal exporters have been unable to take advantage of strong demand and prices as a result of Transnet’s operational problems, an Australian producer has warned that it, too, has only limited capacity to send cargoes to Europe to help replace Russian fuel. Bloomberg... 

EXPORT CONSTRAINTS: While several South African coal exporters have been unable to take advantage of strong demand and prices as a result of Transnet’s operational problems, an Australian producer has warned that it, too, has only limited capacity to send cargoes to Europe to help replace Russian fuel. Bloomberg reports that thermal coal loaded at Australia’s Newcastle port soared to a record in mid-March as buyers shunned Russian shipments. However, miner New Hope, which has held talks with prospective customers in Europe, warns that most producers have their supply contracted to existing customers and that there is only limited spot cargo available. Photograph: Bloomberg

GAS PARIAH

25th March 2022 At the time of writing, Europe had refrained from declaring an outright ban on Russian gas imports. Nevertheless, it is taking concerted steps to taper its imports in the short-term and wean itself off Russian gas entirely in time. It’s a tall order given that the European Union depended on... 

GAS PARIAH: At the time of writing, Europe had refrained from declaring an outright ban on Russian gas imports. Nevertheless, it is taking concerted steps to taper its imports in the short-term and wean itself off Russian gas entirely in time. It’s a tall order given that the European Union depended on Russia for about 40% of its natural gas, ahead of the invasion of Ukraine. There is also significant infrastructure, such as the facility pictured, in place to facilitate trade, whereas major new renewables and liquefied natural gas import infrastructure still needs to be developed to enable the switch away from Russia. Photograph: Bloomberg

HUMAN TOLL

18th March 2022 Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has created yet another devastating refugee crisis as people flee brutal aggression. Pictured here, mostly women and children queue under a Ukraine flag to board a shuttle bus after crossing into Poland at the border checkpoint in Medyka. The hospitable response from... 

Ukraine refugees photo from Reuters

CLIMATE COSTS

11th March 2022 African countries are already spending billions of dollars yearly to deal with the impact of climate change, a report by Power Shift Africa shows. Spending is projected to be particularly high in countries such as Ethiopia, which the authors calculate will need to spend 5.6% of its gross domestic... 

CLIMATE COSTS: African countries are already spending billions of dollars yearly to deal with the impact of climate change, a report by Power Shift Africa shows. Spending is projected to be particularly high in countries such as Ethiopia, which the authors calculate will need to spend 5.6% of its gross domestic product (GDP), or $6-billion a year to 2030, to counter the impact of floods, climate-driven diseases, hailstorms and wildfires. South Africa, which is experiencing more frequent and extreme storms, fires and droughts, is forecast to spend more than $2-billion a year over the same period, which equates to 0.7% of its GDP. Photograph: Bloomberg

FISCAL TIDE

4th March 2022 Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana insisted that South Africa’s fiscal sustainability tide was finally turning last week when he delivered his maiden Budget address in the Good Hope Chamber, after the National Assembly building was seriously damaged in a deliberately lit fire in early January.... 

FISCAL TIDE

MULTIMARKET STRUCTURE

25th February 2022 The Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill released for public comment this month signals the official beginning of the end of South Africa’s long-standing vertically integrated electricity supply industry structure. It also caters for the creation of a Transmission System Operator to operate and... 

MULTIMARKET STRUCTURE: The Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill released for public comment this month signals the official beginning of the end of South Africa’s long-standing vertically integrated electricity supply industry structure. It also caters for the creation of a Transmission System Operator to operate and expand the country’s physical transmission network and play the role of system and market operator. Photograph: Bloomberg

OVERRUNS

18th February 2022 The Zambezi River Authority reports that it is progressing with work on the Kariba Dam Rehabilitation Project (KDRP), which comprises projects to reshape the plunge pool and refurbish the spillway gates. The KDRP has been ongoing since 2017 and is expected to be completed in 2025. However, the... 

OVERRUNS: The Zambezi River Authority reports that it is progressing with work on the Kariba Dam Rehabilitation Project (KDRP), which comprises projects to reshape the plunge pool and refurbish the spillway gates. The KDRP has been ongoing since 2017 and is expected to be completed in 2025. However, the authority reports that project progress has been impeded by Covid-related disruptions, which have resulted in both time and cost overruns.

SENTIMENT IMPROVES

11th February 2022 The seasonally-adjusted Absa Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 57.1 points in January from 54.1 points in December, remaining above the 50-point mark that separates expansion from contraction. The improvement in the headline PMI was largely driven by a rebound in the business activity... 

SENTIMENT IMPROVES: The seasonally-adjusted Absa Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 57.1 points in January from 54.1 points in December, remaining above the 50-point mark that separates expansion from contraction. The improvement in the headline PMI was largely driven by a rebound in the business activity index, which rose to 56.6 in January from 48.7 points in December. “An improvement in the new sales orders index suggests that demand looked better. In particular, respondents noted a rise in export sales, which could have boosted output,

ENERGY SQUEEZE

4th February 2022 During recent hearings into its R293-billion allowable revenue application for 2022/23, Eskom dramatically lowered the energy availability factor assumptions for its coal fleet from 72% to 62%. While dismal, the figure is arguably more realistic given the scale of the maintenance backlog, as well... 

Lethabo Eskom Bloomberg image

BEYOND MEGA-DAMS

28th January 2022 The world’s largest hydropower company, China Three Gorges Corporation, is adding wind and solar capacity under plans to diversify its business as the era of mega-dam projects fades, Bloomberg has reported. The State-owned firm, which currently has 26 GW of solar and wind installed, aims to hit a... 

Bloomberg Image

NEW ERA

21st January 2022 Chile's mining sector is preparing for what could be some significant changes that could include tighter environmental rules and higher taxes. Newly elected President Gabriel Boric (35) supports higher taxes on mining firms, while a committee will begin deliberations in earnest this year on how... 

NEW ERA: Chile's mining sector is preparing for what could be some significant changes that could include tighter environmental rules and higher taxes. Newly elected President Gabriel Boric (35) supports higher taxes on mining firms, while a committee will begin deliberations in earnest this year on how the environment and natural resources will figure in the country’s new constitution. The changes could be significant given that the Andean nation is the world's top producer of copper and the second largest producer of lithium. Both metals are seeing sharp price rises on soaring demand and a global rush to secure supply. Photograph: Bloomberg.

BOOSTING THE FIGHT

10th December 2021 While South Africa has not yet broadened booster shots beyond healthcare workers and certain categories of immunocompromised individuals, vaccine booster shots are likely to become an important part of the long-term fight against Covid-19. This is true not only for South Africa but elsewhere, as... 

Reuters Image

BOOSTER SHOT

3rd December 2021 As the fourth Covid wave approaches, Pfizer and BioNTech have applied to have their coronavirus vaccine approved by the South African Health Regulatory Products Authority for use as a booster. The vaccine is already the most widely used in South Africa and is set to become the first to be... 

BOOSTER SHOT

COAL LITIGATION

26th November 2021 Three civil society groups have taken the South African government to court over its plan to build 1 500 MW of new coal capacity in line with the Integrated Resource Plan of 2019. In September, lawyers for groundWork, the African Climate Alliance and the Vukani Environmental Justice Movement in... 

Three civil society groups have taken the South African government to court over its plan to build 1 500 MW of new coal capacity in line with the Integrated Resource Plan of 2019. In September, lawyers for groundWork, the African Climate Alliance and the Vukani Environmental Justice Movement in Action wrote to Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe and the National Energy Regulator of South Africa demanding that the plan be scrapped. After not receiving a response, litigation was launched this month on the basis that the plants would violate the constitutional right to an environment not harmful to health and wellbeing. Photograph: Reuters

PLATINUM DEAL

19th November 2021 Royal Bafokeng Holdings accepted an unsolicited offer this month from Northam Platinum for up to a third of Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RBPlat) in a R17-billion transaction. RBPlat’s mines – one of which, Styldrift, is pictured here – are on the western limb of the Bushveld Complex and their assets... 

PLATINUM DEAL: Royal Bafokeng Holdings accepted an unsolicited offer this month from Northam Platinum for up to a third of Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RBPlat) in a R17-billion transaction. RBPlat’s mines – one of which, Styldrift, is pictured here – are on the western limb of the Bushveld Complex and their assets have been described by Northam as “young, shallow and well capitalised”. The Northam deal led rival Implats, which had been seeking to acquire 100% of the issued ordinary shares of RBPlat, to withdraw a cautionary announcement of an impending transaction.

TRAGEDY TO TRIUMPH

12th November 2021 British naturalist Sir David Attenborough has emerged as the voice of conscience – and hope – as humanity hurtles towards a self-induced climate crisis, with existential consequences. Delivering an impassioned speech during the opening ceremony of COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 1, the... 

 Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell for Reuters

HEAT, DUST & POWER CUTS

5th November 2021 HEAT, DUST & POWER CUTS: As the late and great Johnny Clegg and Savuka sang in their song titled ‘In My African Dream’, which features on the ‘Heat, Dust & Dreams’ album: ‘Something stole the promise from the light of the dawn’. In the current context, that light has quite literally been stolen.... 

HEAT, DUST & POWER CUTS: As the late and great Johnny Clegg and Savuka sang in their song titled ‘In My African Dream’, which features on the ‘Heat, Dust & Dreams’ album: ‘Something stole the promise from the light of the dawn’. In the current context, that light has quite literally been stolen. After nearly 15 years, South Africa remains in a deep electricity crisis. Those responsible have mostly left both the utility and government, but that is little consolation. Sadly, heat, dust and power cuts look set to be an ongoing and painful feature of this summer period too. Photograph: Bloomberg

FRAGILE CLIMATE

29th October 2021 The failure of rich countries to honour their $100-billion-a-year climate-finance commitments is likely to be a key theme as world leaders converge on Glasgow, Scotland, for the COP26 climate talks. Developing countries, including South Africa, will want far stronger guarantees that money will be... 

Photo of trucks transporting coal to a South African power station

MARS SIMULATION

22nd October 2021 Earlier this month, the Austrian Space Forum set up a simulated Martian base together with the Israel Space Agency at Makhtesh Ramon, a 500-m deep, 40-km wide crater, in Israel’s Negev desert. During a three-week mission, six astronauts from Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Israel, Portugal and... 

MARS SIMULATION: Earlier this month, the Austrian Space Forum set up a simulated Martian base together with the Israel Space Agency at Makhtesh Ramon, a 500-m deep, 40-km wide crater, in Israel’s Negev desert. During a three-week mission, six astronauts from Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Israel, Portugal and Spain will remain in complete isolation in a unique structure meant to simulate a space station. The astronauts will undertake a variety of experiments that have been selected for the project, in which more than 200 scientists from 25 countries are involved. Photograph: Amir Cohen for Reuters

STRONG REBOUND

15th October 2021 The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has raised its projections for global trade growth in 2021 and 2022 to 10.8% and 4.7%, respectively, citing the resurgence of economic activity in the first half of the year. In March, the WTO projected that trade would increase by 8% in 2021 and 4% in 2022. The... 

Image of Wrold Trade Organisation

CLIMATE TARGETS

8th October 2021 Bloomberg reports that a coalition of financial firms overseeing a combined $29.3-trillion of assets, is calling on some of the world’s biggest corporate emitters to urgently set science-based emissions reduction targets that are compatible with 1.5° C of global warming. The companies targeted by... 

Image of a wind turbine with a coal mine and power station in the background.

GAS CRISIS

1st October 2021 Gas prices have soared in recent months as economies reopen from Covid-19 lockdowns and high demand for liquefied natural gas in Asia pushed down supplies to Europe. Energy companies in the UK have asked the government for support to help cover the cost of taking on customers from firms that have... 

Pictured here is the Bacton Gas Terminal, in Norfolk, which is said to be suited to emerge as a future hydrogen import hub as the UK simultaneously pursues a low-carbon energy transition.

FINAL ASSEMBLY

24th September 2021 China's first C919 narrow-body jet to be delivered to launch customer China Eastern Airlines is about to enter final assembly, China's aviation regulator said earlier this month, with delivery due before the end of the year. Reuters reports that the C919, being built by State-owned aircraft... 

Image of China’s first C919 narrow-body jet

SAFE & EFFECTIVE

17th September 2021 The evidence continues to mount in favour of the effectiveness of the vaccines being used in South Africa. While most people have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which was the first to receive the full approval of the US Food and Drug Administration in August, recent news on the efficacy,... 

Photo of a Covid vaccine being administered

NO MASKING THE LOSSES

10th September 2021 Eskom chairperson Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, CEO Andre de Ruyter and CFO Calib Cassim were all masked up in line with Covid-19 health protocols when delivering the electricity utility’s results for the 2020/21 financial year. Despite some improvements, Eskom’s debt mountain was yet again... 

Photo of Eskom chairperson Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, CEO Andre de Ruyter and CFO Calib Cassim

SCARRING EFFECT

3rd September 2021 The National Treasury estimates that the economic damage from the July riots could shave off between 0.7 and 0.9 of a percentage point from this year's growth figure. “We are concerned about the potential scarring effect on employment and sentiment that may outlive the shock and impact potential... 

SCARRING EFFECT

REFORM MANDATE

27th August 2021 On August 16, Zambian President Edgar Lungu conceded defeat after a landslide election win by opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema, 59, pictured here casting his ballot in Lusaka on August 12. The 2021 election was Hichilema’s sixth attempt at the presidency since 2006. Markets reacted favourably... 

Image of Zambian President Edgar Lungu

ONGOING FALLOUT

20th August 2021 As South Africa continues to count the cost of deadly looting that destroyed lives, livelihoods, as well as public and commercial infrastructure, the world paused earlier this month to reflect on the ongoing fallout from the deadly Beirut port blast. The explosion, caused by unsafely stored... 

GREEN TRANSITION

13th August 2021 South Africa’s State-owned utility Eskom has, for some time, been working on a so-called Just Energy Transaction to help the company and the country navigate away from its coal dependence, while still supporting coal miners and communities that are vulnerable to such a transition. The utility has... 

Photo of an Eskom power station

GATEWAY ATTACKED

6th August 2021 A cyberattack rocked operations at container terminals operated by Transnet Port Terminals, causing fresh backlogs that had also developed during recent civil unrest and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. Transnet was forced to declare force majeure at its container terminals in Durban,... 

A photo of the Cape Town port

HIGH PERFORMANCE

30th July 2021 The Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit and International Convention Centre, in Gauteng, has secured an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) with a commendable B rating, where A represents the highest achievable rating and G the lowest. New regulations, gazetted in December 2020, require nonresidential... 

Aerial photo of the the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit and International Convention Centre
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