Archive for August, 2011

GERMAN AVIATION GROUP CORDNER SEE BENEFITS GETTING INTO THE MINING SECTOR

Friday, August 26th, 2011

GERMAN AVIATION GROUP GETTING INTO THE MINING SECTOR

(Berlin, Germany) Following extensive research, Cordner Aviation Group (CAG) has announced it will enter the growing worldwide mining, exploration and energy market sectors, offering aircraft with conversions based on proven Bae 146 and Avro RJ platforms. These are purpose-outfitted for the mining industry’s unique requirements. According to Stewart Cordner, the company’s president, “You might say we found a golden opportunity in this often overlooked market and the initial reactions to the Surveyor and our range of design concepts–resulting from many candid conversations with prospects in the mining industry–have been totally positive.”

The Surveyors will come from CAG’s growing remarketing portfolio of BAe 146s and Avros in a range of models.  The selection process is owner-driven and the aircraft selected for conversion depends on the specific requirements, such as average number of passengers, operational locations, distances, cargo capabilities and landing/takeoff conditions.

Says Cordner, “The 146s and Avros are not strangers to mining and energy exploration and in fact have earned high marks over the years in operations worldwide. So what we are doing now is building on a proven basic platform and greatly enhancing it based on our extensive customer needs analyses and using new technologies now available to us. For example, we have identified and plan to reduce the operating weight empty (OWE) by over half a ton over the basic passenger aircraft currently in use worldwide. The benefits are significant in terms of fuel saving, increased performance and positive environmental contributions.”

He points out number factors that will make the Surveyor so attractive to mining and exploration companies: “The aircraft has all-around excellent hot and high performance, as well as outstanding short field capability. That can be nothing more than a gravel or dirt airstrip, located potentially right where the mine is located. By taking this mine/customer-centric approach, we can minimize the permanent “land take” for the airfield, which also greatly reduces the environmental impact and, naturally, provides the industry with a maximum production and logistical upside.

The aircraft, with 112 seats or less, is also approved for short runways, such asLondonCity, which means it can make very steep approaches over rough terrain typical of mine locations. And when it lands, it is quite independent with an electric internal starter system and integral air stairs and several other autonomous features.

The initial Surveyor designs include a quick-change (QC) capability. For example, from all-passengers, to passengers and a separate VIP module, to passengers and a Medevac LifePort™ separate cabin. But at the end of the day, it all depends what the customer requires for his flight operation.

Adds Cordner, who has worked with the Bae 146/Avro series over 20 years, at least half of those “hands on” in the field with customers and their operations. “These aircraft have been simply and ruggedly built originally to airline standards and for high utilization at remote locations. Considering their fuel efficiency, low acquisition and operating costs, and a 60,000-hour lifespan barely touched, they have to be the best bargains in the air. Add to that the fact that it has the lowest noise print of any similarly sized jet and meets all current emissions standards, our Surveyor is kind to the environment as well.

(Berlin, Germany) Following extensive research, Cordner Aviation Group (CAG) has announced it wiis now entering the growing worldwide mining, exploration and energy market sectors, offering aircraft with conversions based on proven Bae 146 and Avro RJ platforms. These are purpose-outfitted for the mining industry’s unique requirements. According to Stewart Cordner, the company’s president, “You might say we found a golden opportunity in this often overlooked market and the initial reactions to the Surveyor and our range of design concepts–resulting from many candid conversations with prospects in the mining industry–have been totally positive.”

The Surveyors will come from CAG’s growing remarketing portfolio of BAe 146s and Avros in a range of models.  The selection process is owner-driven and the aircraft selected for conversion depends on the specific requirements, such as average number of passengers, operational locations, distances, cargo capabilities and landing/takeoff conditions.

Says Cordner, “The 146s and Avros are not strangers to mining and energy exploration and in fact have earned high marks over the years in operations worldwide. So what we are doing now is building on a proven basic platform and greatly enhancing it based on our extensive customer needs analyses and using new technologies now available to us. For example, we have identified and plan to reduce the operating weight empty (OWE) by over half a ton over the basic passenger aircraft currently in use worldwide. The benefits are significant in terms of fuel saving, increased performance and positive environmental contributions.”

He points out number factors that will make the Surveyor so attractive to mining and exploration companies: “The aircraft has all-around excellent hot and high performance, as well as outstanding short field capability. That can be nothing more than a gravel or dirt airstrip, located potentially right where the mine is located. By taking this mine/customer-centric approach, we can minimize the permanent “land take” for the airfield, which also greatly reduces the environmental impact and, naturally, provides the industry with a maximum production and logistical upside.

The aircraft, with 112 seats or less, is also approved for short runways, such asLondonCity, which means it can make very steep approaches over rough terrain typical of mine locations. And when it lands, it is quite independent with an electric internal starter system and integral air stairs and several other autonomous features.

The initial Surveyor designs include a quick-change (QC) capability. For example, from all-passengers, to passengers and a separate VIP module, to passengers and a Medevac LifePort™ separate cabin. But at the end of the day, it all depends what the customer requires for his flight operation.

Adds Cordner, who has worked with the Bae 146/Avro series over 20 years, at least half of those “hands on” in the field with customers and their operations. “These aircraft have been simply and ruggedly built originally to airline standards and for high utilization at remote locations. Considering their fuel efficiency, low acquisition and operating costs, and a 60,000-hour lifespan barely touched, they have to be the best bargains in the air. Add to that the fact that it has the lowest noise print of any similarly sized jet and meets all current emissions standards, our Surveyor is kind to the environment as well.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

AFRICAN MINERAL COMPANY WINS CONTRACT IN INDIAN IRON ORE

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Weir Minerals Africa wins major screening

order in Indian iron ore mining

weir1.jpg

Weir Minerals Africa has received its biggest order from India to date – seven Linatex vibrating screens of various sizes for RBSSN, a mining and metals company based in Hospet, in northern Karnataka.

The order includes the biggest screen Weir has supplied to India, with dimensions of 2.4 m by 4.8 m. Weir Minerals Africa’s Chris Dorlas says the order, which is destined for an iron ore application, is a milestone for the company, since it firmly establishes Weir Minerals’ footprint in India and will serve as a reference base for further sales in that country.

The RBSSN order includes three VD18/38, one VD15/38 and one VD21/48 dewatering screens. Linatex dewatering screens incorporate a 45o sloping back section, fitted with slotted apertures across the direction of the flow. Incoming slurry is fed uniformly along the top of this back section, which acts as a vibrating drainage panel. The screen’s main deck slopes upwards at 5o and is fitted with smaller slotted apertures.

“This design achieves exceptionally high dewatering and draining capacity,” Dorlas says, “making it possible in many cases to use smaller units than if one was using conventional dewatering screens. This, in turn, reduces the cost of the initial investment in the screens.”

At the lowest point of the screen, where the sloping back and main deck meet, a pool of partially dewatered slurry forms. Here, solid particles bridge over the apertures and form a cake, which acts as a filtration platform, allowing only quite fine particles to pass through. The vibration action conveys the cake along the screen and out of the pool, where further dewatering takes place, depending on the porosity of the cake, which is finally discharged over the adjustable weir into the product chute.

Vibration is produced by two linear motion low noise exciter motors operating at 980 or 1460 rpm. Alternatively, geared exciters with an external drive motor can be fitted to the larger screens. Both the vibrating motors and the geared exciter have been specifically designed to ensure long life, with minimum maintainance requirements.

Easy adjustment of the amplitude of vibration and deck inclination, as well as the discharge weir plate, are features incorporated to suit changes in process requirements. A high solids recovery outcome is achieved when the screen underflow is kept in closed circuit, with the only solid losses occurring as the very fine material exits in the cyclone overflow.

The two large Linatex HG24/48 screens included in the RBSSN order are horizontal linear motion screens. Linear motion is produced by the action of counterweights on separate shafts, geared together to produce a straight line “throw”. The mechanism’s direction of rotation does not affect the pattern of motion.

“Linear motion provides excellent performance in applications such as wet screening, desliming and dewatering, owing to the ability to break the surface tension between deck apertures and the pulp being screened,” Dorlas says. “Screen capacities vary widely, depending on the material characteristics and the separation required.

“Screen design has evolved and improved over many years of operational experience and industry know-how. However, the company has actively taken these improvements to the next level and introduced the Finite Element Analysis (FEA) method of design to our development technology some years ago. Our in-house FEA capabilities have assisted in optimising the mass and strength of the screens, helping to provide lower cost solutions, both in terms of capital and operational costs.”

The Weir Group acquired the Linatex group of companies in September 2010, now marketed as Lintex® rubber products. Dorlas says that these products are proving a valuable addition to the Weir Minerals product line and assist the company in positioning itself as a solutions provider. The South African Linatex manufacturing facility in Alrode is capable of producing screens up to 4.9 m wide by 10 m in length.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

RIO TINTO AWARDS MAJOR EARTHWORKS CONTRACTS

Friday, August 26th, 2011

MAJOR EARTHWORKS CONTRACT AWARDED BY RIO TINTO TO INDIGENOUS CONTRACTORS

Rio Tinto has awarded two indigenous joint venture (JV) contracts, collectively worth $184m, for its Hope Downs 4 mine site located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The mining giant awarded an earthworks contract worth $104m to a JV between Leighton Contractors and Ngarda Civil and Mining, and an $80m contract to a JV between Pilbara Logistics and Cimeco for the construction of the mine support facilities.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore and Australia CEO Sam Walsh said that the contracts demonstrated the high priority the firm placed on developing sustainable indigenous business capacity and long-term employment and training opportunities in the region.

“These latest two contracts are another step towards the successful implementation of our goal to achieve 333Mtpa capacity in the Pilbara in 2015,” Walsh said.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

TUNGSTEN MINE BY WOULFE MINING IN KOREA

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Woulfe Mining determined

to revive South Korean

tungsten mine

Some of the old mine structures at Sandong tungsten mine. Image by Woulfe Mining Corp.

Woulfe Mining Corp. (TSX-V:WOF) is going ahead with an aggressive plan to re-open a dormant tungsten mine in South Korea by 2012. The Sandong tungsten-molybdenum mine is one of the largest tungsten mines in the world, having operated for over 40 years. Woulfe Mining recently completed its drilling program and is looking to publish a feasibility study by the end of the year. A scoping study done in 2010 by Wardrop Engineering showed an projected resource of 103.6 millon tonnes. The mine would produce about 4,000 tonnes of tungsten worth a cool $180 million per year. MINING.com speaks to Woulfe Mining CEO Brian Wesson about the project

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

GLOBAL WORLD TRADE TO GET ON WITH THE JOB. NOT JUST TALK ABOUT IT.

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

End the charade in talks

on global trade

By Jean-Pierre Lehmann

There is a global trade crisis. Unlike the financial crises, it is not making headlines. But it is potentially far more dangerous. It is true there are no significant trade conflicts at the moment. But the whole institutional framework is breaking down. When a big trade conflict arises – and it is surely “when” not “if” – the system in all likelihood will not be able to cope. After the disastrous World Trade Organisation meeting in Seattle in 1999, Mike Moore, the then director-general, said he feared the WTO could become to the 21st century world economy what the League of Nations was to the world community before the second world war: an impotent talk-shop that was ultimately unable to survive. Twelve years later these seem to have been prophetic words.

The institutional trade crisis must not be seen in isolation. It reflects a deeper malaise and malfunction of global governance at a time when leadership is needed to tackle daunting challenges: huge and pervasive sovereign debts; climate change; the quagmire in Iraq and Afghanistan; nuclear proliferation; illicit trade (corresponding to about 30 per cent of all trade); widespread unemployment, especially among young people; sprawling urban slums; seemingly uncontrollable food price volatilities – to name just a few. Global governance meetings – of the WTO, of the G20, G7 and G8 groups of large economies, and on climate – are charades.

The WTO was established in 1995, in the euphoria of post-Berlin Wall globalisation, and the Doha round of trade talks was launched in 2001, a few weeks after the cataclysm of 9/11. Yet, by 2003, it was clear that the?Doha round would not succeed. In an institutional re-enactment of the myth of Sisyphus, trade negotiators have plodded on for eight more years from one failed meeting to the next. The most recent was in July, when it again proved impossible to agree a minimal deal. A ministerial meeting convened for December – marking the 10th anniversary of the Doha Development Agenda – is certain to be another failure.

Here are some suggestions for getting out of the impasse.

First, the Doha round should be buried. Some suggest it should be declared dead. But it has been dead for some time and the corpse is putrefying: so a burial, a wake, and some appropriate words of farewell.

Second, the planned WTO December ministerial meeting should be cancelled. Such meetings are terribly expensive, and even more environmentally corrosive. They should not be held unless constructive outcomes can reasonably be expected.

Third, in lieu of the WTO ministerial, a group of eminent people should be appointed with the task finding a way out of the current doldrums and outlining future courses of action. The head of the group should preferably be from one of the emerging economies: Ernesto Zedillo, the former Mexican president, Mari Pangestu, the Indonesian trade minister, and Ujal Singh Bhatia, India’s former ambassador to the WTO, are among the names that come to mind.

Fourth, the WTO needs a change of leadership. Pascal Lamy is an honourable man. He must be commended for his ceaseless efforts, but there is a need for fresh blood. Mr Lamy is too closely associated with Doha. He was the European Union’s trade commissioner at the Doha round’s launch in 2001 and at the 2003 Cancún ministerial meeting that collapsed (in part owing to his intransigence); and he then became WTO director-general in time for the inconclusive 2005 Hong Kong ministerial meeting. He was reappointed, unopposed, in 2009. The absence of an opponent was regrettable and probably harmful, because it aborted any possibility of debate.

Fifth, the next head of the WTO should not be from any of the G20 countries or regions. Ideally, he or she should be from a small, “neutral” country that is very active in trade. Chile, Singapore and Switzerland would be prime candidates, but consideration should also be given to Hong Kong.

The steps recommended here can do no more than lay the foundations for future developments. However, at the very least they would take us away from the putrefying Doha corpse and, one might hope, shed some light on prospects for the trade regime in the 21st century. They might also provide a model for other paralysed areas of global governance before they too putrefy.

The writer is founding director of the Evian Group at the IMD business school, Lausanne, Switzerland

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


BHP BILLITON DOWPLAYS EXPECTATIONS OF NEW MINES

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

BHP suggests caution on hopes

for new mines

By William MacNamara

marius kloppers

The chief executive of BHP Billiton, the world’s biggest miner, warned that the market was overestimating the ability of the industry to bring on new mines and relieve high metals prices.

Speaking as he unveiled strong full-year results, Marius Kloppers, chief executive of BHP, said that rising production costs and financing diffulties were leading to delays at new projects and threatening miners’ profit margins.

“Please look at the supply scenario again. In our view, across our suite of commodities, the supply situation is still being overestimated.”

His comments come amid a sharp derating of the sector this year, even as miners have reported record-breaking earnings. Some analysts say the derating reflects bearish forecasts on global industrial demand and overly optimistic expectations over how quickly new supply will come on line as big and small miners work to deliver a wave of new mines from 2014.

Mr Kloppers said these trends would “on balance, over time” be a good thing for BHP because supply-side pressures would support today’s high prices for metals.

“Yes, we understand that cost inflation is coming; yes, we understand that some people’s perception in some parts of the market is of a softer demand scenario,” Mr Kloppers said.

Earlier this month Tom Albanese, Rio Tinto’s chief executive, also highlighted the challenges faced by miners of bringing on new supply.

Gayle Berry, a base metals analyst at Barclays Capital, said of the outlook for copper supply: “The mine-supply side of the market is extremely weak. There are certainly new projects on the horizon, but the timing and realisation of those coming to the market is questionable.”

BHP plans to spend $80bn over the five years to 2015 to build new mines and expand old mines. Like its peers, BHP is channelling its large cash flows into project development. However, BHP said on Wednesday that higher material, labour and other costs had reduced the miner’s underlying earnings before interest and tax by $1.2bn, compared to a total of $32bn.

The miner on Wednesday reported a 60 per cent rise in pre-tax profits from $19.6bn to $31.3bn in its fiscal year ending in June. BHP attributed the results to “another strong year of growth in Chinese crude steel production”, adding that it expected robust demand in the short and medium term for commodities.

BHP’s earnings per share rose to 426.9 cents from 227.8 cents. Revenues rose to $71.7bn from $52.7bn.

The miner raised its final dividend by 22 per cent to 55 cents, carrying the annual dividend to $1.01 per share, but did not start a new share buy-back programme after completing its $10bn buy-back in June.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

BLUESCOPE STEEL TO REMAIN IN BUSINESS BUT AT THE EXPENSE OF 1,000 JOBS

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

BLUESCOPE DECIDES NOT TO CLOSE UP SHOP BUT AT THE EXPENSE OF 1,000 WORKERS JOBS

BlueScope Steel considered shutting down its entire manufacturing operations before opting for today’s rationalisation plan that will axe more than 1000 jobs.

The nations biggest steelmaker confirmed it would abandon its export business, in a move that will require its blast furnace capacity at Port Kembla to be halved, and a Hot Strip Mill at Western Port to be shut down.

Bluescope shares extended their recent losses today, losing 4.5 cents, or 5.7 per cent, to 74.5 cents. The stock has lost 67 per cent of its value this year compared with a 14 per cent fall for the ASX200 share index.

Bluescope chief exective Paul O’Malley said the changes would cost 800 of the 3100 jobs at Port Kembla, and 200 of the 1000 jobs at Western Port, with most of those workers to be gone by October.

But the job losses won’t end there with Mr O’Malley saying that significant numbers of contractors would also lose work.

”Contractors will be affected, and we can only make estimates on that … but in total it may be in the order of about 400 contractors who certainly won’t be working at the steelworks,” he said.

Mr O’Malley said the axed workers had an ”iron clad” guarantee of being paid out their entitlements, and would be treated with ”respect” throughout the process.

The changes come after a lengthy review which Mr O’Malley said considered all options, including a complete shutdown of all manufacturing, or a joint venture with foreign companies.

He said Bluescope had settled on this plan – which effectively reduces the company back to a domestic producer – because it would make the company viable in the current difficult economic circumstances, and very profitable if conditions improved.

”Moving to a complete shut is absolutely the wrong decision for the company, the shareholders and Australia, which is why we are going on the path we are going on,” he said.

The company reported an underlying loss of $118 million for the year to June, which ballooned to $1.054 billion once asset writedowns are included.

The poor result was caused by the high Australian dollar, a global glut in steel production, poor demand for construction in Australia and extremely high costs for steelmaking ingredients like iron ore and coal.

The company said it was also on the look out for acquisition opportunities in the iron ore sector – following rival OneSteel’s move today to increase its iron ore exporting business from six million tonnes per year to nearly 10 million tonnes per year.

The company stressed the changes had nothing to do with the Federal Government’s planned carbon tax, and Prime Minister Julia Gillard indicated Bluescope would be allowed to receive some of its planned support funding earlier than originally planned.

The Victorian and NSW Governments, in concert with the Federal Government, were also moving yesterday to mobilise support packages in the Western Port and Illawarra regions

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Henry Sapiecha

CANADA & USA HAVE SOME PROBLEMS WITH PROPOSED NEW PIPELINE

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

USA & CANADA HAVE ISSUES WITH PIPELINE

WASHINGTON — Ranchers from Nebraska, people in car caravans from California and hundreds of others plan to hold daily sit-ins at the White House starting Saturday, protesting against a planned pipeline that would greatly expand the flow of oil from the black sands of western Canada.

Two weeks of protests will raise the question of what the United States should do about climate change, putting the topic back into the spotlight. They’ll pressure President Barack Obama, who must decide whether the pipeline is in the national interest and whether it will be built.

For some participants, the key issues are local matters of land and water conservation. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline from the oil sands of Alberta would run from Canada through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

It would cross the Ogallala Aquifer, the giant underground water source under much of Nebraska and other Great Plains states. Some Nebraskans have been calling for a different route away from their irrigation source and the state’s Sand Hills, a land of canyons and mountains of grass-covered sand where cattle graze.

For others, the key issue is climate change.

Writer and protest organizer Bill McKibben says it may be the “single clearest decision Obama will make in his first four years because for once he has a clear shot. Congress isn’t in the way. He gets to make the call.”

McKibben said it’s a test to see if Obama stands by his 2008 campaign promise that in his presidency “the rise of the oceans will begin to slow and the planet begin to heal.”

An Obama denial of the permit for Keystone XL would “send an electrifying jolt through his base,” McKibben said. “We’ll be reminded about why we were so enthused when he was running.”

The decision puts the president between his environmentalist supporters and those looking for projects that create jobs immediately. The American Petroleum Institute said the pipeline would create 20,000 direct jobs in the two years it would take to build it.

An existing Keystone pipeline from Canada already brings 591,000 barrels of diluted bitumen, the technical name for the thick oil mixed in the sands, to refineries in Oklahoma and Illinois. The new pipeline would increase the capacity to 1.3 million barrels a day and deliver the crude to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

Protesters argue that the pipeline would be in place for some 50 years, bringing a heavily polluting form of oil. The extra energy needed to mine the oil from the sands of Alberta and to process it creates more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil.

NASA climate scientist James Hansen argues that if emissions from coal are phased out in a few decades and unconventional fossil fuels such as the crude from the oil sands are left in the ground, it will be possible to stabilize the climate.

“Phase-out of emissions from coal is itself an enormous challenge. However, if the tar sands are thrown into the mix, it is essentially game over,” Hansen wrote in a paper in June. Hansen in recent years has participated in protests, and organizers say he’ll join this one as well.

The organizers said they expect some arrests. They plan to station people in Lafayette Park across from the White House every day for two weeks.

That means they will be there in a week, when the president and his family return from their vacation on Martha’s Vineyard.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

ACCURATE AERIAL MAPS FROM SPACE FOR MINING OPERATIONS

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

MAPPING FROM SPACE FOR MINERS

PhotoSat

Highly accurate elevation mapping of mine sites

Stereo satellite mapping accuracies better than 50cm in elevation validated by thousands of ground survey points over multiple project areas. Accuracies are achieved using PhotoSat’s own mapping system specially designed for stereo satellite photos. Mine sites and development projects mapped throughout the world.

To view white papers on mapping accuracies click here. For case histories using PhotoSat’s mapping system click here.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

LESS WORK & MORE PAY SAY AFRICAN WORKERS TO WORLDS LARGEST PLATINUM MINERS

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

World No. 1 platinum miner

raises pay offer

as union threatens strike

Anglo American Platinum has, according to South Africa’s National union of Mineworkers, raised its pay offer to workers in attempt to ward off possible threatened strike action

Author: Agnieszka Flak and Olivia Kumwenda
Posted:  Saturday , 20 Aug 2011

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters)

South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers said Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), the world’s largest platinum producer, again raised its wage offer on Friday, trying to head off a strike that could cause a jump in global prices of the precious metal.

The platinum sector is the latest to be affected by a wave of disputes in the country’s mid-year “strike season” after stoppages in other mines, steel and fuel threatened to dent growth in Africa’s biggest economy.

“There is an improved offer …it will be taken to members for consideration,” NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka told Reuters. He expects a vote to start on Monday and would not disclose details of the offer.

The union will meet Amplats again on August 31.

The company on Thursday offered raises of between 7.5 percent and 8 percent, up from a previous offer of 6 percent to 7 percent.

NUM lowered its demand to between 11 percent and 12.5 percent from 15 percent, which is triple the inflation rate.

The union has said its members at Impala Platinum rejected a revised offer from the world’s second largest producer of the metal and will refer the dispute to arbitration.

“We insist on a double-digit increase across the board,” said Eddie Majadibodu, the NUM’s chief negotiator at Implats.

Implats had raised its offer to between 8 and 10 percent, while the union has been asking for 14 percent.

NUM workers in the gold and coal sectors have already reached deals for 7 to 10 percent increases, which could serve as benchmarks in the platinum talks.

The labour disputes are likely to unnerve investors already wary about putting money into the country due to steep power tariff hikes and a debate around mining nationalisation.

Implats and Amplats account for two-thirds of global platinum supply and any strike could push prices higher.

Platinum rose to its highest since early May on Friday, up 1.4 percent at $1,861.49 an ounce, partly inspired by a rise in gold, widely seen as a safe-haven for investors.

UTILITY ESKOM RISKS STRIKE

In a separate dispute, more than 200,000 water, sanitation and refuse workers seeking 18 percent wage increases marched without major incident in Johannesburg on Friday after setting fires and looting vendors at rallies in Cape Town this week.

The NUM, with more than a quarter million members in various sectors, has also threatened a strike at state utility Eskom, which supplies almost all of the country’s power, after rejecting a 7 percent pay rise offer.

Any significant pay rises would affect the utility’s strained balance sheet and could lead to further steep rises in electricity tariffs.

Further wage hikes will make it more costly to hire the workers needed to bring power by 2014 to the 25 percent of the country’s households that still have no access to electricity.

Wage deals over the past years of double to triple the inflation rate have made the country less competitive by driving up the cost of a workforce that is already more expensive and less efficient than those in emerging market peers.

But the ruling African National Congress, which is in an alliance with organised labour, does not want to antagonise a group that has supplied it with millions of votes by pushing workers to accept more modest pay increases.

© Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

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