Rich Links: Copper in Zambia, Gold in Darfur and more

As always, the best reads from around the ‘net:

Zambian copper project results in many disputes

An excellent article looks at the many controversies surrounding the Sentinel copper project in Zambia. Owner First Quantum Minerals is embroiled in land disputes, competing interpretation of mining and compensation law, as well as a governmental approach swaying between support and condemnation. Think Africa Press

A rare look at illegal oil refineries in Nigeria

The British Guardian provides insights into illegal refineries in the Niger Delta, where stolen crude oil is converted into Diesel under incredibly dangerous conditions for workers, communities and environment (including video). The Guardian

Detailed look at the future of East African oil

Many issues and challenges mentioned in this piece will sound familiar to observers of the East African oil business, but the article offers a nice and in-depth summary. Voice of America

Angola ends tax exemption of oil companies

The government has gazetted a law that applies consumption tax rates ranging from 5 to 10 per cent on activities of companies working in the oil sector. These were so far completely exempt from the tax that reaches rates of up to 30 per cent on luxury goods. This is Africa | Mining Review

Gold and violence in Darfur

A look at how government-supported gold mining activities contribute to increasing violence and a change of conflict dynamics in Darfur. The Guardian

Other stuff

  • Study forecasts continuing stagnation of the South African mining sector: African Mining Brief
  • The European Parliament has accepted a new Fishery treaty with Mauritania: Jeune Afrique
  • Uganda is looking to import Coal from Mozambique to develop local iron ore reserves: AllAfrica/New Vision
  • The European Union has lifted sanctions against Zimbabwe, allowing for diamond exports from its controversial Marange mine to resume: Mining Review
  • Thousands of people demonstrated against French mining giant Areva in the town of Arli, Niger: Jeune Afrique
  • Mozambique plans to finish its new natural gas legislation at the end of this year: Mining Review
  • Namibia plans to start exporting large quantities of cattle on the hoof to neighbour Angola: AllAfrica/New Era

Rich Links: Oil and Uranium across Africa

Quite a long list of noteworthy reading material this time around:

Falling gold prices lead to job cuts

Mining company AngloGold Ashanti Limited will lay off 400 miners in Ghana, reacting to falling prices for gold on the world market. Gold has fallen by $500 over the last months, coming down from a historic heigh point. The lay-offs in Ghana are the first signs of wider repercussions for gold miners around Africa. Mining Review

Oil – a blessing or a curse?

A series of articles from different media look at the benefits and drawbacks of petroleum exploitation for African societies. AllAfrica/This is Africa | AllAfrica/NewVision | AllAfrica/Deutsche Welle

Uncertain times for Somalia’s oil and gas business

Recent finds bring hope for new revenues for Somalia’s embattled government, but the recent attacks on a Kenyan shopping centre also put the remaining challenges for foreign investment under the spotlight. AllAfrica/Sabahi | Africa Confidential (subscription required)

Uranium mining around Africa

There is a rising interest in uranium mining across Africa. Recent articles look at projects in Tanzania and Botswana. Mining Review | African Mining Brief | AllAfrica/Tanzania Daily News

Petroleum exploitation in central Africa

The Jeune Afrique takes a look at the fortunes of the petroleum industry in central Africa. Jeune Afrique

East African states take stake in Ugandan refinery

The planned refinery project in Uganda, which will be provided with oil from the country’s nascent oil fields, has been given another boost with neighbouring states Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi agreeing to take a 40 per cent stake in the project together with the host country. The remaining 60 per cent will be financed by private companies involved in the exploitation of oil reserves. Engineering News | Africa Energy Intelligence

Benefication laws in Zambia lead to growing backlog for copper stocks

After the Zambian government has enacted laws forcing copper mining companies to process a larger part of their production in the country itself, those companies complain over limited smelting capacities. Stockpiles have been growing, according to the industry and threaten to block operations at the mines. Some observers allege that the bottleneck has been created intentionally by investors, to force the government to loosen the new regulations. Mining Review

Oil theft in Nigeria

A look at the origins and consequences of oil theft in Nigeria. Baobab | the guardian

African Arguments: Converting resource wealth to economic development: what role for ‘local content’?

This article is based on research and interviews conducted at the International Economic Forum on Africa in Paris on 7th October and was published in full on the blog “African Arguments” of the Royal African Society.

Few topics were debated as intensively at the recent International Economic Forum on Africa in Paris as the question of local content in the oil and mining industry. Local content is commonly understood as the share of materials, parts, etc. for the production of a given product that has been produced locally (instead of imported.)

For many African governments, it is the holy grail of economic policy: by finding ways to make investors procure more services, labour and materials from local businesses, the reasoning goes, their countries will benefit from resource endowments multiple times. The investors in turn seem to have accepted the concept of local content as important, but are mainly interested in limiting its potentially negative effects on their line of business.

Mozambican vice-minister of mineral resources Abdul Razak Noormahomed set the tone for the debate when he declared: “We want to increase the local content, because we want as much as possible small and medium level companies to be part of the business, providing goods and services to the big companies. And we are asking the support not only of the international organisations, but also from the companies in order to support our small and medium level enterprises.” Noormahomed went on to underline the need for technical and financial capacity building as areas where international investors are expected to support Mozambican businesses.

Read the rest on African Arguments!

Rich Links: Natural Gas in Tanzania, Nuclear Power in South Africa and More

As always, the best links from around the internet:

New policy on natural gas coming soon in Tanzania

The government of Tanzania is on the verge of passing a new national policy on natural gas exploitation. So far the country has no specific official policy in that sector and the new legislation wants to address specifically the issue of local content. AllAfrica/Tanzania Daily News (2)

South Africa aims for new nuclear power plants

The South African government pushes for the construction of new nuclear power plants to increase the generation of nuclear energy from 1,800 MW to 9,600 MW per year by 2030. Key financial decisions are planned to be taken this financial year. South Africa currently runs the only active nuclear power plant on the African continent and pursues a large nuclear capacity under the label of “clean” and indigenous energy. AllAfrica/SouthAfrica.info

Resources in the DR Congo

A detailed look at the trends and challenges of the natural resources sector in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ventures Africa

The dangers of the use mercury in gold mining

Mercury is used by the great majority of artisanal gold miners in Africa, numbering millions, but its use results in dramatic health problems. A new international treaty aims to reduce the amount of mercury used, but changing entrenched practices in local communities will be hard. The Economist

Search for oil kills whales off Madagascar

A sonar system, operated by Exxon Mobile to explore oil fields off the Madagascan coast, is the reason for the death of dozens of melon-headed whales. This is the finding of an independent scientific commission. Global Post

Three alternatives for South Sudanese oil

The governments of South Sudan and Kenya are currently planning the establishment of a new pipeline corridor to transfer Sudanese oil to the Indian Sea at Lamu. This article argues that the better alternatives would be to transfer the oil by either rail or road. AllAfrica/Pambazuka News

High hopes for Rwandan mining sector

The Rwandan government wants the country’s mining exports to triple by 2017. AllAfrica/Rwanda Focus

Rich Links: Mining in Kenya, Child Labour and Oil in Uganda

As usual, the best articles from around the internet:

Kenya revokes mining licences, plans new mining policy

The Kenyan government has revoked all mining licences given out between January and May this year, citing “questionable circumstances” in their allocation. With high hopes for the mining sector, the government also plans to put in place a new mining policy soon. Mining Review

Legalization vs. child labour in mining

In an interesting article, author Dan Paget argues that advocacy organizations like Human Rights Watch are focussing too much on the practice of child labour in mining to the detriment of pushing the agenda for legalizing small-scale artisanal mining. Reports by these organisations, according to his argument, have tremendous power to shape the debate and policy around artisanal mining in Africa and give incentives to governments to keep these practices illegal or in a legal grey zone. Pushing for legalization, on the other hand, would give governments the power to effectively regulate the sector, providing a sustainable way to end child labour in the long-term. Think Africa Press

Uganda issues oil production license to Chinese firm, wants to start producing crude in 2016

Chinese company CNOOC has received a licence to start crude oil production at the Kingfisher field from the Ugandan government, with the first crude expected to flow in 2016. Uganda has put high hopes on its oil reserves, with several refineries in planning to satisfy local fuel demands. Successfully bringing oil online is a cornerstone of current president Museveni’s bid to stay in power. AllAfrica/The Independent

For further reading on Uganda’s oil sector, I recommend a recent report by Dutch research organization IPIS, “Business, Human Rights and Uganda’s Oil”.

Rich Links: Sudan fuel price protests and Congo’s oil law

The most important developments and most interesting reads around resource politics in Africa from around the internet:

End of fuel subsidy sparks violent protests in Sudan

In an attempt to limit government spending, the Sudanese fuel subsidy was cut in a surprise move, sending fuel prices at the pump sky-high. Prices almost doubled overnight, from $2.83 to $4.71. Protests erupted in the capital Khartoum and around the country, leading to at least 29 deaths. The demonstrations were said to be the largest of President Al Bashir’s 24 year rule. Schools were closed and the internet connection to parts of the country is cut off. Al Jazeera

Why hasn’t Botswana diversified out of Diamonds

Interesting Analysis on the question, why Botswana despite its sound political institutions and solid economic growth has so far not managed to move away from an extraction-based economy. Why Nations Fail

Congo’s oil law

The DRC’s proposed oil law would open the door to exploration in national parks (especially Virunga) and doesn’t provide any means to ensure transparency in the allocation of contracts and revenues. Think Africa Press

Ghana’s gold production likely to drop by 18%

Due to falling world market prices, gold producers are cutting their production in Africa’s second largest exporting country. This could have severe consequences for government revenues, with oil production already well below targets. The government has won elections mainly on the promise of investing heavily in power production and other infrastructure and planned on using funds from resource extraction to deliver on these promises. Mining Review

Rich Links: No Gas in Ghana, No Phosphate in Nambia, But More Oil in Libya

Some worthwhile reading from around the web:

Namibia bans phosphate mining

The Namibian government has declared a moratorium on phosphate mining in coastal waters. This is a reaction to ongoing protests from the fishing industry. The government and mining companies had plans to start exploiting the underwater reserves of phosphate, but mining phosphate at sea has never been done before. Fishermen and their employers — fish is one of Namibia’s most important exports — are afraid of possible negative environmental consequences of the mining endeavour. Mining Review

No gas for Ghana

The gas pipeline delivering natural liquified gas from the Jubilee oil field to several gas power stations in Ghana won’t be ready until 2014. The pipeline was due to go online at the beginning of this year, but the sinking of a ship with supplies and financing problems delayed are delaying completion. Ghana experiences severe power outages since a shipping accident made gas supply from Nigeria unreliable and solving the energy crisis has been a main campaign issue in the recent elections. AllAfrica/The Cronicle

Oil flows again in Libya

About thirty per cent of Libya’s oil production capacity has come back online, after militias opened the valves on an important pipeline in the west of the country. Several militias and regional groups are using oil flows to put the Libyan government under pressure in negotiations over jobs, payment and decentralisation of political power. Libyan oil is mostly exported to southern Europe and the row has led to rising prices on world markets. New York Times

Rich Links: Oil Theft in Nigeria, Mining Law in South Africa, EITI and More

Trading concessions with “governments in exile”

Kilimanjaro Capital, a company registered in Belize, is trying to get investors interested in buying shares of oil and gas concessions bought from African governments in exile. These include self-styled authorities from Cabinda (Angola), Biafra (Nigeria) and southern Cameroon. Sufficient to say that the odds of a positive return on these investments are terribly long. Africa Confidential (subscription required)

Chatham House releases report on crude oil theft in Nigeria

A new Africa Programme report examines the international dimensions of Nigerian crude oil theft and explores what the international community could do to tackle the problem. The report assesses the scale of crude oil theft in Nigeria, analyses how stolen crude is exported and highlights the laundering of proceeds through global financial centres.

Chatham House (there is also a video with a discussion of the report available)

The problems of EITI

The blog Why Nations Fail devotes several blog posts to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and discusses its shortcomings and opportunities. Post 1, Post 2, Post 3

Liberian government revokes logging permits

17 logging permits for valuable timber were revoked by the Liberian government. These permits have been given out in contradiction with the 2006 law governing these issues, according to the government. AllAfrica

South African mining law draws criticism

The South African government opened the public review process for a proposed mining law that would bring considerable reform to the sector. Especially the private sector has lost no time criticising the law, which in their view would dramatically worsen the investment climate. Parts of the law would give the government the ability to declare certain resources as “strategic”, forcing producers to sell them to local businesses at potentially below market prices to allow to develop local industries. The government has shown willingness to revisit some aspects of the law. This is Africa | African Arguments

Nigerian companies strengthen their oil production

The share of total oil production provided by local companies is rising in Nigeria. International companies like Shell are divesting from onshore and shallow water wells and concentrate on deep water blocks, where political and security risks are lower. Mining Review

Rich Links: Diamonds, Oil and Charcoal

Diamonds from Zimbabwe return to European markets

According to a Zimbabwean newspaper, the European Union has begun the process of delisting the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) from the E.U. sanctions list. That would allow the ZMDC, a state-owned enterprise, to sell diamonds from the controversial Marange mine in the E.U. Main proponent of the lifting of the sanction was Belgium, which also hosts the biggest market for diamonds in the E.U. AllAfrica

Blockage of Libyan oil harbours continues

Militias continue to block most oil exports in Libya, reports the German tageszeitung. These militias want to strengthen their position in negotiations with the government about regional autonomy and religious questions. Libya depends heavily on oil for its export earnings. taz

United Nations want Gulf states to crack down on Somali charcoal smuggling

The U.N. has urged the governments of the countries in the Arabic Gulf, especially the United Arab Emirates, to respect a U.N. embargo on the export of charcoal from Somalia. The charcoal trade is one of the main sources of income for Al Shabaab, an Islamist militia fighting against the U.N. supported government in Somalia. Its main trading partners are traders from the UAE. Shabelle Media

African governments are pushing for better resource deals with China

China finds it harder to impose its own terms for resource deals in Africa. African governments are keen on setting the rules for infrastructure development and environmental protection. New York Times

Son of Liberia’s president steps down from national oil company

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was widely criticised for putting her son into a powerful position, heading the national oil company. Now he stepped down, citing the recently achieved completion of the sector reform process, with which his work would be complete. Baobab