…from the quill of Antisthenes the Younger
Many nasty things are happening all over the world all the time. The reasons may not be simple or politically correct, in which case you are not allowed to know, and in any case the average reader will not get a sensible answer from his TV or his daily paper (I’m told that some people still buy newspapers, which is puzzling – you can get crosswords on the internet). He or she would have to search, I mean properly search, the internet and not many people have time for that. I’m far from suggesting to the other people what they should do; but personally, if something intriguing is happening, I recall the old Romans, and ask myself with them – cui bono? Who benefits? No wonder I’m cynical.
In South Africa, on 24th August, 2012 thirty-four people were shot outside a platinum mine. It was the big bad news. That it happened after two police officers were hacked to death by the striking miners was almost no news. All The Guardian journalists could come up with were the fond reminiscences of that nasty apartheid. The rest of the world media, predominantly Left, followed like a sheep. The blacks in South Africa rule themselves for the last eighteen years, but when it comes to the blame game, the convenient memory lingers on. So:-
1.-South Africa is the world’s largest producer (80%) of platinum*.
2.-Russia is the second largest producer of platinum.
3.-China is the world’s largest consumer of platinum.
When Russia and China are jostling in Africa, it is no wonder that people die. The unrest began when 3,000 drill operators at Lonmin’s Marikana mine, 60 miles north-west of Johannesburg, went on an illegal strike, demanding a tripling of their salaries.
The strikers belong to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction, set up in opposition to the 30-year-old National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). Clashes between the rival unions, Lonmin’s security staff and police have resulted in 44 deaths so far.
“Mr Goodlace at Impala Platinum (Implats) said: “The platinum industry is experiencing increased levels of industrial action, as witnessed at both Impala Rustenburg at the beginning of this year and more recently at Lonmin, with the associated tragic loss of life. These developments pose a significant risk to the industry.”
Implats was itself forced to close its Rustenburg operations – the world’s biggest platinum mine – for six weeks earlier this year when four people were killed in violent clashes between the two trade unions. The disruption saw its annual production cut by 21 per cent and cost the company £213m in revenues.”
And, naturally: One of China’s largest mining companies has dipped its toes into South Africa’s platinum sector, at a time when the industry is in its worst crisis in years.
China’s Gansu-based Jinchuan Group’s acquisition of Wesizwe, a South African company that is developing one of the richest platinum deposits in the world, opens the possibility of further Chinese investment in a sector that up to now has been dominated by a handful of South African and Western commodities companies.
In the deal with Wesizwe – Jinchuan joined up with the China Africa Development Fund (CADFund) to create a joint venture to manage the acquisition. Together they paid US$227 million for a 45% stake in the company, giving them effective control over Wesizwe, which is listed on the South African stock exchange. …
The Jinchuan/CADFund consortium paid a hefty premium for the acquisition: it offered more than 23% over what Brazil’s Vale mining corporation had wanted to pay for Wesizwe and even that was considered by many local analysts to be excessive.
Aquarius, an Australian commodities producer, recently rocked the industry when it said it was shutting down two platinum operations in South Africa, putting thousands of mine workers out on the street.
No guts, no glory.
… the turmoil among local producers could even work in Wesizwe’s favour. The combination of strike-led work stoppages, shaft closures and reduced production are beginning to impact on world platinum supplies. Last year, a million more ounces were produced than was taken up by industry. As the mining companies scale back, this is expected to plunge into a deficit within the next year, particularly as uptake in China continues. [Full article – Asia Times]
*/ Platinum (Pt) is used in catalytic converters, laboratory equipment, electrical contacts and electrodes, platinum resistance thermometers, dentistry equipment, and jewellery. Because only a few hundred tonnes are produced annually, it is a scarce material, and is highly valuable and is a major precious metal commodity,/wikipedia
**/ Platinum’s name is derived from the Spanish term platina, which translates into “little silver”