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Mining Weekly 52/’12: Copper Wars continued, South African taxes

December 24, 2012 Comments off

Top Stories:

  • Copper Wars: First Quantum raises takeover bid for Inmet
    • Almost 2 years after the consolidation in the copper mining industry was accelerated by the proposed merger of Lundin and Inmet, First Quantum is trying to take over Inmet to form a major copper producer. Inmet’s board rejected two earlier, lower bids, and is now facing a $5.1bn takover offer.
    • The proposed Lundin-Inmet (Symterra) merger did not materialize because Equinox made a takeover bid for Lundin, after which Equinox was acquired by Barrick, which ‘won’ a bidding war with Minmetals.
    • In attempts to get the Cobre Panama project funded Inmet earlier this year sold a stream with most of the planned precious metals production to royalty company Franco Nevada for an investment of approx. $1bn.
    • Sources: Wall Street Journal; Financial Times; Newsday

    Copper Wars - Inmet - First Quantum

  • ANC will not nationalize South African mines, but wants to increase taxes
    • The ruling ANC party has turned down a plan to nationalize the mining sector in the country. At the same time the party leaders do call for increased taxes to keep a larger part of the benefits from natural resource extraction in the country. No details on the tax increases have been given yet.
    • Sources: The Globe and Mail; Wall Street Journal; Financial Times

Trends & Implications:

  • The copper industry is in a phase of consolidation because many large development projects are in the hands of relatively small miners who don’t have the funds to develop the large projects on their own. With project pipelines being scrutinized in the light of slowing demand growth, large miners are searching for and buying those projects that are actually going to make it, and small miners with and without good development projects try to team up to combine operating assets with strong development projects.
  • South Africa is already one of the countries with the highest effective tax rates to mining companies in the world, combining a 28% income tax rate with a 10% secondary tax, and adding mining royalties depending on the mineral mined. Further tax increases will make it very unlikely that foreign companies try to enter into the South African mining landscape, but will also make it more attractive for the large South African players to try to expand abroad.

2012 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

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Mining Week 02/’12: Temporary & Permanent Cost Increases

January 14, 2012 Comments off

Top Stories of the Week:

  • ENRC settles Congo dispute with First Quantum
    • ENRC agreed to pay $1.25bln to First Quantum to settle the dispute over the Kolwezi Tailings project, the Frontier and Lonshi mines and related exploration interests in DRC. First Quantum was stripped of the rights to these projects by the government, after which ENRC came in and agreed to buy the rights from the government in a move widely criticized in the industry.
    • Sources: ENRC press release; Financial Times; First Quantum press release
  • Coal India agrees to salary costs hike of 25%
    • Coal India, by far the largest miner of energy coal in the country, has agree to a 25% permanent increase of wages. In august of last year the unions demanded a 100% increase to offset increased cost of living and reduce the increasing income gap between management and workers. Investment bankers at the time expected the company to agree to a 15-20% increase. The salary hike results in an increase of operating cost for the company by approx. 10%.
    • Sources: Wall Street Journal; Economic Times
  • Weather in Australia and Brazil drives iron ore price up

    • The closure of the export facilities in Port Hedland because of cyclone Heidi and the cancellation of shipments from Brazil because of heavy rains results in supply pressure in the iron ore market. Heavy rains are expected to continue in the Pilbara region, which supplies close to 40% of seaborne iron ore in the world, in the short term.
    • Sources: Financial Times; Supply Chain Review; Wall Street Journal; Vale Press Release

Trends & Implications:

  • Extreme weather conditions have a big influence on bulk material supply chains in the short term, because stockpiling these materials in amounts large enough to last for several weeks is very costly and thus not a normal practice. Especially the steel industry is hit hard with both iron ore and metallurgical coal having to be shipped in from locations that are often hit by storms. Although the impact on spot prices in the short term can be large, the longer term impact on the miners is quite small. Most contracts allow for some flexibility in when exactly the ore is delivered. As long as the mining operations don’t have to stop, the ore will get to the steel manufacturers as some point.
  • The wage increase expected for Coal India is a good example of the very high cost inflation of mining in developing countries. Whereas the cost increase of contracted services and equipment leasing can be seen as (at least partly) a temporary phenomenon caused by high commodity prices, the cost increase because of increased labor and consumable costs in developing countries causes a more permanent shift of the global cost curves.

©2012 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Zambia suspends permits to export metals

October 7, 2011 Comments off

“Zambia’s new government has suspended metal export permits as it prepares new guidelines for the sector of Africa’s biggest copper producer. The decision followed concerns that copper exporters had not been paying their full duties to the state and is seen as an attempt to improve transparency in the industry. But it is also the latest in a number of sweeping measures by President Michael Sata’s administration, including the threat of higher mining taxes, as he looks to stamp his mark on the country after winning September 20 elections.

Frederick Bantubonse, general manager at Zambia’s Chamber of Mines, the industry body, said he was ‘terribly worried’ by the suspension. ‘At the current copper production level, you are talking over 2,000 tons of copper per day … you have contracts with exporters, you have contracts with the transporters,’ he said. However, an official at the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development said the guidelines were merely following a presidential directive that all exports need to be cleared by the central bank.”

Source: Wall Street Journal, June 3 2011

Observations:

  • Zambia’s new president promised to strengthen control over the country’s mining sector, responding to unrest in the country about the actions of foreign mining companies.
  • Zambia accounts for approx. 5% of global copper production with a significant potential to grow. First Quantum’s Kansanshi copper mine is among the world’s top 20 in terms of output. Only one-tenth of the tax revenue comes from copper, though three-quarters of export earnings are from copper.

Implications:

  • Resource nationalism is a key issue in the mining business this year, driven by high commodity prices and economic uncertainty. Just this week the news featured Vale’s potential agreement with the Guinean government about Simandou ownership and the request and withdrawal of the same request of Mongolia’s government to review the ownership of Oyu Tolgoi, developed by Rio Tinto.
  • The concerns of the chamber of mines about contractual obligations with exporters and transporters are not very fundamental. All the parties in the mining value chain benefit from high copper production, making it easy to find a modus operandi while the uncertainty lasts. However, the industry in Zambia will have to prepare itself for negotiations about higher taxes as the new government will try to gain popular support by transferring more of the profits from the country’s natural resources to the people.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

Mining sector feels heat as Peru turns left

June 8, 2011 Comments off

“Shares in mining companies operating in Peru fell sharply on Monday after a leftwing former coup leader won a narrow victory in the country’s presidential election. Grupo Mexico, a metals mining company with operations in Peru, fell 8 per cent in New York trading. Hochschild, a silver miner, and Southern Copper Corp, tumbled 5 per cent and 11.3 per cent respectively. Shares in Xstrata, which is building one of Peru’s biggest mines, were off 0.86 per cent, while Volcan Compañía Minera, in which Glencore has a stake, fell 8 per cent.

Ollanta Humala’s victory has provoked widespread fears he would lead a wave of nationalisations and higher taxes on foreign companies. Mr Humala has suggested Peru could impose a windfall tax of up to 40 per cent on mining companies, and also raise the 30 per cent rate that miners currently pay. Trading was suspended after Peru’s stock market plunged more than 12 per cent. The precipitous fall dragged down other markets from Chile to Mexico. BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Anglo American, none of which have Peruvian operations, escaped the sell-off.”

Source: Wall Street Journal, June 7 2011

Observations:

  • Current corporate tax rate for miners in Peru is 30% + 3% royalties/duties + 4.1% on dividends, which is below international benchmarks (see PWC Global mining tax comparison for details)
  • The most active international mining companies in Peru are Xstrata, Newmont, Freeport-McMoran, and First Quantum. The effect of the election results on the stock price of Newmont is displayed below, showing a sudden 2% loss vs. other gold miners.

Implications:

  • The average stock price decrease of around 10% of Peruvian companies reflects the risk of a tax increase. As the market value is the market’s expectations of future profits, the 10% increase corresponds well with a high likelihood of an approximate 10% tax increase (i.e. 10% after-tax profit reduction) plus the additional risk of increased government control.
  • Besides the risk of tax increase and increased government control, foreign companies face the risk of rapid employment cost increases as the new government will quickly try to make a mark in supporting wage increases.

©2011 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

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