Browsing: coal

Africa seizing opportunities in the Russia-Ukraine war.

The crisis has thrown the energy market into chaos, sending fossil fuel prices soaring. This has birthed the global demand for thermal coal, especially from the Asian and European markets; with most countries in both regions having been dependent of Russia, as the country is the world’s third largest supplier of thermal coal used chiefly for power generation. Coal plants that had been scheduled for closure in Europe have been reopened, to fill the deficit in mitigating fuel costs and generating electricity; as the alternative gas, is inarguably more expensive. With energy security under threat, climate policies and commitments have taken a back seat. The EU recently declared that natural gas now qualifies for green investments.

The African coal market is projected to enjoy double its revenue for the next one year. The prevailing energy gap has created a window of opportunity for African coal producing nations. According to a report by Reuters, South Africa’s coal exports rose by 11 folds in the months following the war. Botswana has also projected growth in its coal market. The massive demand far outstrips the available supply, resulting into prices of thermal coal leaping to record levels. African countries with coal resources, have doubled profit margins, with the surge in demand from European buyers. Italy, France, Portugal and Spain have been sourcing from Nigeria, whilst Germany has sought Senegal for gas supplies.

The revenues gained from increased energy exports to Europe and other markets could be reinvested to boost agricultural productivity in Africa to mitigate reliance on Russia and Ukrainian wheat products. In addition, the surplus could boost the continent’s manufacturing sector, pertinently fertilizers to promote agricultural productivity which fuels most economies in Africa.

The remainder of Anglo’s coal assets were demerged from the group and bundled into a new company called Thungela Resources Limited. This strategy in coal mining circles is called “mine to mouth” and is being continued by Seriti. Eskom, South Africa’s power utility, has an agreement where its thermal power stations are fed with coal from the company’s Kriel and New Largo mines. These mines are adjacent to the power stations.

Seriti Resources (the company’s name is from the native Sotho language and means integrity) was formed in 2017. Mike Teke, through his investment vehicle Masimong Holdings Group owns 25% of Seriti Resources.

The remainder of the shares in the energy company is owned by Sandile Zungu’s Zungu Investments Company, Thebe Investments Corporation, and Community Investment Holdings.

Tanzania’s coal mining landscape is featured with attractive investments. In September 2011, a Chinese company, Sichuan Hongda Co. ltd, signed a $3 billion deal with Tanzania to mine coal through the Mchuchuma Coal mine and iron ore, yet another big win for the sector (Global Energy Monitor – GEM).

The current agreement comes to supplement the existing efforts the government of Tanzania and other private actors made to enhance coal mining.

In January 2021, it was reported that Tanzania China International Mineral Resource Ltd. (TCIMRL) requested tax incentives on import duty on goods to be imported for the construction work, incentives on spare parts and machinery, and relief on fuel.

Strong demand for its commodities was the result of supply chain disruptions being experienced the world over. Nagle who succeeded long time chief executive Ivan Glasenberg stated that coal was the star of the show for the company. The high demand for coal was the result of little to no activity being done by mining companies worldwide in terms of building coal mines.

These days coal is not only a dirty commodity but “coal mining” is a dirty word so to speak. It borders on profane in a world that is now strongly driven by ESG to even mention the development of a coal mine. That being the case many players in the coal mining space are finding it increasingly difficult to secure funding for coal mine development projects. 

This has played well into the hands of Glencore which has happily supplied the so-called dirty commodity to eager customers. Shareholders should be glad that the company has done this. In the event they are not happy that the company is selling this polluting fossil fuel they are well-advised to remember the US$ 4 billion payouts.

Gabon is one of few countries with a carbon-negative economy, thanks to the Congo Basin’s immense tropical forests, which absorb more greenhouse gases than the country’s companies, cars, and towns emit.

It just approved an ambitious climate law to ensure that its economic bases are on forests and agriculture rather than fossil fuels.

Outside assistance is required to attain this goal so that the government can continue to enhance living standards.
Many African countries rely on coal for electricity and have refused to sign a declaration signed by more than 40 countries this week calling for an end to the most polluting of fossil fuels.

The pursuit of a greener earth and universal reliance on renewable presents a unique dilemma for countries in Sub Saharan Africa which rely heavily on energy provided by coal, shale, and other fossil fuels but also their economic livelihoods depend on the black gold.
The elimination of coal and related energy sources would severely prejudice economies that constitute SSA which are still developing or emerging.
It is against this background that the outgoing Chief Executive of the largest coal miner on the JSE, who is also the President of the Minerals Council is on record for saying that African countries should be allowed to make the transition from fossil fuels to greener renewable energies at their own pace.

The company, given the first resources boom and the second one currently being enjoyed, should be awash with cash. Instead, the company is heavily indebted to the tune of between US$70 million and US$160 million which it attempted to expunge unsuccessfully through a rights issue in 2015.

The company has been limping along financially for years. In 2019 it was reported that its liabilities exceeded assets by US$19 million. This development made it doubtful that the company could carry on as a going concern after having been placed under judicial management.

The recent interim financial results presented by the company offer some consolation to investors who have been suffering for long.

In the US, cheap and accessible shale gas is rapidly displacing coal. And in China, concerns about poor air quality and related health issues have caused demand for coal to fall three years in a row, from 2014 to 2016. So is coal demand about to decline globally? Is coal headed for the ash heap of history? Such a development is unlikely.”

The relegation of coal to the dustbin of energy sources, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) does not believe is likely. They are not the only ones who hold this view.

McKinsey & Company, another highly regarded consulting company, does not believe coal will not have a role in the energy mix of the world going forward. They are not as blunt in expressing their views as their counterparts at the BCG however. McKinsey & Company featured an article on their website proclaiming that the adoption and development of renewable energy will be an evolution that is gradual as opposed to a sudden revolution.