Around the globe rumours are swirling in the windy month of March. So this week, I am going to indulge in the womanly vice of gossip and share with you some of the juicer tidbits. I will identify the facts that can be ascertained, but make of the rumours what you will.
MUGABE IS TAKING OVER THE ZIMBABWE MINING INDUSTRY
This is rumour, so far. The government of Zimbabwe will demand a share of all foreign-owned mining projects in in country. There would be an immediate turnover of 25% of all projects. By 2009, the government will seize another 26%. It plans to pay with near-worthless Zimbabwean dollars and calculate the exchange rate that applied when foreign companies made their original investments. Alternate estimates of the project share and payment methods are also being bandied about.
Facts: The Zimbabwean economy is in danger of collapse. White farmers have been forced off their land, and the land turned over to blacks. Anticipating food riots because the country has only a couple weeks’ of wheat stockpiled, the army is on high alert.
XSTRATA WILL DIVEST ITS SHARE OF FALCONBRIDGE
One rumour going around is that Swiss- and British-based Xstrata will sell off its minority interest in Falconbridge. The company has not yet commented on its intentions.
Facts: Xstrata paid over $2 billion for 20% of Falconbridge’s outstanding shares in the second half of 2005.
XSTRATA WILL MAKE A TAKEOVER ATTEMPT FOR FALCONBRIDGE
Here is a rumour that people in Sudbury are watching closely. Xstrata will make a bid for all of Falconbridge, even at this late stage in Inco’s takeover of its smaller nickel cousin. Imagine restarting all the regulatory paperwork.
Facts: Xstrata is seldom content with a minority share of the companies in which it invests. The unions representing both Inco and Falconbridge strongly oppose any move by the foreign company, citing the best interests of their members.
MINING WILL RESUME AT BOUGAINVILLE
Mining and milling will be restarted at the Bouganville Copper Ltd.’s mine in Papua New Guinea. To reopen the mine will cost more than US$1.5 billion.
Fact: The mine was closed in 1989 due to attacks by rebel secessionists. PNG mining minister Sam Akoitai has met with Rio Tinto (54% owner) in London, U.K.
SOUTH CAROLINA COUNTY IMPOSES 20-TIMES-TOUGHER MINING LAW
Rumour: It may be a typo.
Facts. The ordinance requires that mines in Jasper county be set back 1,000 ft from their neighbours, whereas the South Carolina mining statute requires only a 50-ft setback.
CMJ readers now have a few tidbits to toss around at the water cooler today. You’re welcome.