Stellar Diamonds seeks to fund first post-Ebola mine in Sierra Leone

File Photo: A trader holds a four carat diamond worth about  US$8,000 in the town of Koidu in eastern Sierra Leone.

A trader holds a four carat diamond worth about US$8,000 in the town of Koidu in eastern Sierra Leone, file. REUTERS/Finbarr O’Reilly /File Photo

Stellar Diamonds, a London-listed small-cap, is seeking funding for a $45 million diamond project in Sierra Leone it says will be the first major mining project since the Ebola crisis rocked the country’s economy.

Diamonds and other forms of mining are central to an economy hard hit by the 2015 Ebola epidemic.

Trade in diamonds helped to fuel the decade-long conflict that ended in 2002, but since the lifting of a ban on exports in 2003 and strict international rules, the industry says Sierra Leone’s exceptionally high quality diamonds have become a force for good.

“This is the first large-scale mining licence to be issued by the government since Ebola, creating up to 1,000 jobs,” Stellar CEO Karl Smithson said in an interview.

Initially, Stellar Diamonds planned to buy the diamond prospect through a reverse takeover to acquire acreage from private firm Octea, which already operates Koidu, the biggest diamond mine in Sierra Leone and West Africa. The new project Tongo-Tonguma will be the region’s second biggest, Smithson said.

In an environment in which small players can struggle to raise cash following the 2015-16 commodity crash, Smithson abandoned the reverse takeover plan in favour of a revenue-sharing deal.

That means Stellar will pay a 9.3 percent gross royalty to Octea, which continues to own the Tonguma prospect, while Stellar keeps the adjacent Tongo acreage and operates both.

Between them, Tongo-Tonguma should produce 200,000 carats per year over the 21-year mine life and generate gross revenue of $45 million annually.

For a small-cap, the advantage of the deal is it gets rid of the need to raise all the money upfront and means work can begin quickly – Smithson hopes next year.

To provide working capital, meanwhile, the company this week announced a share issue and an open offer to minority shareholders to raise roughly 500,000 pounds ($676,700).

Its share price, which was suspended for half a year while the reverse takeover was considered, has fallen more than 50 percent this year.

Stellar Diamonds expects to raise cash from a deal agreed earlier this year to sell its assets in Guinea to BDG Capital Limited, although Smithson said the final price would be less than the $2 million figure initially announced.

BSG Resources (BSGR) said it could not comment as the Octea deal was still being finalised.

The group was founded by Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz, who is now an advisor and not involved in daily business.

($1 = 0.7389 pounds)

Originally reported by Reuters.

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South Africa’s crop committee raises record maize estimate by 2 percent

File photo of a hawker preparing a cob of corn at his makeshift shop in Soweto

A hawker prepares a cob of corn at his makeshift shop in Soweto, January 27, 2016. PHOTO: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

South Africa will harvest 15,969 million tonnes of maize this season, the biggest crop on record after improved weather conditions across the maize belt boosted yields, the government’s Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) said on Wednesday.

The estimate is up 2 percent compared to the CEC’s June forecast of 15.6 million tonnes. The previous record harvest of 14.656 million tonnes was set in 1981.

The CEC estimate came in just above a forecast by analysts and traders who pegged this year’s crop at 15.77 million tonnes.

The harvest will comprise 9.507 million tonnes of white maize, the regional staple used for human consumption, and 6.462 million tonnes of yellow, the bulk of which is used in animal feed, the CEC’s sixth production forecast of the season said.

The 2017 harvest will also be more than double the previous season, which was only 7.78 million tonnes following an El Nino-triggered drought that impacted yields, pushed up food prices and fuelled inflation.

The Johannesburg stock exchange’s white maize futures contract due in December has fallen 65 percent from its peak of 5,376 rand a tonne hit in January last year to close at 1,872 rand on Wednesday, helping to dampen inflation and food prices.

Originally reported by Reuters.

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Zimbabwe Secures $478 Million Funding for Agriculture: State Newspaper

A Zimbabwe farm worker harvests tobacco at a farm ahead of the tobacco selling season starting on Wednesday in Harare

A farm worker harvests tobacco leaves at a farm ahead of the tobacco selling season in Harare March 3, 2015.
REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Zimbabwe’s government has signed a $478 million agreement with an energy company and three banks to finance the 2017/18 summer farming season in a push to improve food security, a state-owned newspaper said on Monday.

The southern African nation has since 2001 relied on imports and foreign donors to meet demand for the staple maize. Drought, lack of financing and President Robert Mugabe’s seizures of land from white farmers that hit commercial agriculture have been blamed for low grain production over the years.

The Herald newspaper reported that the government and local energy company Sakunda Holdings had signed an agreement that would see three banks provide the capital to mainly fund production of maize and soya.

Sakunda, which imports and distributes fuel, runs a logistics business and operates a 200 megawatt diesel power plant, will work with CBZ bank, Barclays and the local unit of Ecobank to provide the money.

The newspaper did not give details on the funding.

CBZ Chief Executive Never Nyemudzo and Sakunda boss Kudakwashe Tagwirei did not answer their mobile phones when contacted. Officials from Barclays and Ecobank could not be reached for comment.

After a devastating drought last year, Zimbabwe received above normal rains during the 2016/17 farming season and expects to produce 2.1 million tonnes of maize, its highest since 1996, according to official figures.

The Herald said the government would start delivering seed, fertiliser and crop chemicals to farmers around the country between July and September, ahead of the planting season that begins in November.

Farmers would be required to sell their crop to the state grain agency as repayment. Nearly 70 percent of Zimbabwe’s population is rural and survives on agriculture.

Originally reported by Reuters.

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Maasai Warriors hit Boundaries in Protection of White Rhino

Daniel Mamai of the Maasai Cricket Warriors plays against the British Army Training Unit cricket team during a charity tournament called the "Last Male Standing Rhino Cup" at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia

Daniel Mamai of the Maasai Cricket Warriors plays against the British Army Training Unit (BATUK) cricket team during a charity tournament called the “Last Male Standing Rhino Cup” at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia, Kenya June 18, 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Under the gaze of the last male northern white rhino, a group of Maasai warriors in Kenya went into bat for the threatened species, wearing their traditional red shuka robes and clunky white cricket pads.

The warriors were taking part in the annual Last Male Standing Rhino Cup, a two-day tournament hosted in the Laikipia conservation area where the last three northern white rhino live under 24-hour armed guard to protect them from poaching.

“Because the cost of looking after rhinos is enormously expensive these days as a result of poaching, we use many other different ways to try and raise the money,” Richard Vigne of tournament organisers the Ol Pejeta conservancy told Reuters.

Ol Pejeta hoped to raise 1 million Kenya shillings ($100,000) from the 12-team tournament, which also featured sides from the British Army Training Unit and Australian High Commission.

Cricket is not the only method of fundraising that the male rhino, named Sudan, is part of.

Conservationists set up a Tinder profile for the rhino, to help raise money for his $9-million fertility treatment after all attempts at getting him to mate naturally have failed.

Originally reported by Reuters.

Remember, no problem has a quick fix solution. Thus, always ensure to consult highly knowledgeable group of professionals whom would provide you with a collective advice, never individual advice. This group advice and approach is unique with CWIIL Group and is based on the overall Management Philosophy of all CWIIL Group Companies.

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Niger Authorities Rescue more than 100 Migrants Abandoned in Sahara

migrants

West African migrants heading for Europe

Authorities in Niger said on Wednesday they have rescued over 100 migrants in the past week abandoned by traffickers in the Sahara desert as they tried to cross into neighbouring Libya.

The impoverished West African country is a way station for migrants heading to Europe and some experts believe that more African migrants die in the Sahara than at sea.

Soldiers rescued 25 migrants on Wednesday morning near a well in northern Niger, the local prefect, Fatoumi Goudou, said. It was not immediately clear what their nationalities were.

Another 92 migrants, most of them Nigerian, were rescued on Friday by a team from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Niger Republic soldiers, Giuseppe Loprete, head of the IOM mission in Niger, told Reuters.

One of those migrants died shortly after arriving at an IOM facility in the northeastern town of Dirkou, Loprete said. The rest will soon be transferred to Agadez in central Niger before eventually being repatriated to their countries of origin.

European countries have promised Niger tens of millions of dollars to combat people smuggling and the IOM said in April that the number of migrants crossing Niger to reach Libya has declined since last year, largely due to a government crackdown.

Even so, many continue to take the risk. More than 40 migrants died of thirst in northern Niger this month after their truck broke down.

Originally reported by Reuters.

Remember, no problem has a quick fix solution. Thus, always ensure to consult highly knowledgeable group of professionals whom would provide you with a collective advice, never individual advice. This group advice and approach is unique with CWIIL Group and is based on the overall Management Philosophy of all CWIIL Group Companies.

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Benin Moves to Save Part of West Africa’s Last Big Wildlife Refuge

Benin is hiring scores of extra park rangers and bringing in conservation scientists to rehabilitate a part of West Africa’s largest wildlife reserve, which contains big cats and thousands of elephants that have largely died out elsewhere in the region.

The W-Arli-Pendjari (WAP) complex is the region’s biggest remaining expanse of savannah, covering more than 30,000 sq km of Benin, Niger and Burkina Faso.

The tiny nation has partnered with NGO African Parks for the 10-year project centred on the 4,800 sq km Pendjari National Park, part of WAP and seen as the most viable tourist hub for the area, officials involved told Reuters on Thursday.

The complex contains by far the largest elephant population in the region, several thousand, and is thought to house most of the few hundred remaining West African lions, as well as some cheetahs and hippos.

As with other parks in Africa, they face grave threats from poachers and encroachment by a surging human population.

“Pendjari is an opportunity for Benin and the region,” Jose Pliya, director of Benin’s national tourism agency, told Reuters by telephone. “This partnership … will help us make it a sustainable tourism destination (and) a lever for development and employment for the Beninoise.”

But boosting ecotourism faces challenges, not least because jihadists are thought to have infiltrated parts of the wider reserve. France, former colonial master of the three nations that straddle the park, has advised it citizens against all travel to the Burkina Faso side of the expanse.

A tourism ministry spokeswoman, when asked about the jihadist threat, said only that Benin had never been attacked and “security measures are being put in place,” to prevent one.

To better police the park, the project will recruit 10 officers or specialists, train 90 guards, set up a satellite communications network and put a 190 km fence around it, a joint statement from African Parks and Benin said.

A spokesman for the presidency said there were as of yet no plans to work with Benin’s neighbours, although experts say cross border cooperation is key to conserving large wildernesses.

“Regional cooperation always makes sense (for) … better management of the larger landscape and the species that move within it,” African Parks spokeswoman Fran Read said in an emailed response to questions.

“But equally … Pendjari National Park is a sufficiently large ecosystem to successfully conserve all its key species.”

Originally reported by Reuters.

Remember, no problem has a quick fix solution. Thus, always ensure to consult highly knowledgeable group of professionals whom would provide you with a collective advice, never individual advice. This group advice and approach is unique with CWIIL Group and is based on the overall Management Philosophy of all CWIIL Group Companies.

Consulting CWIIL Group of Companies, for any / all investment matters ensures advice based on highest level of knowledge which are given to you by a team of select research-oriented experts whom each will do their own assessment of your matter, and also assess it together, thus ensuring that in case a mistake has been made by one, it will be noticed and corrected even before it is being passed on to you. Receiving incorrect and un-knowledgeable investment advice can be disastrous and thus should be avoided.

CWIIL Group of Companies is a global group of multi-specialized units with diversified interests and activities, wherein each company is a separate legal entity registered under prevailing laws in different parts of the world. CWIIL Group of Companies Products, Services, Project and Solutions are in a multitude of Verticals including, but not limited to, Infrastructure, Power, Oil & Gas, Legal, Media, Technology, ITES, HR, Shipping, Aviation, Real Estate, Hospitals, Health and Medicine, Education, Funding & Investment, Business and Legal Consultancy, and Public Private Partnerships, and other CWIIL Group Units, worldwide, to name a few.

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Uganda’s Private Sector Activity Expands in March – PMI

Private sector activity in Uganda expanded in March compared to the previous month, with companies reporting a boost in production and sales volumes, the inaugural results of a new survey index showed on Wednesday.

The Markit Stanbic Bank Uganda Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 53.5 last month, up from 50.9 in February, the survey report said. Markit collected data for 10 months prior to launching the PMI.

“Companies reported increases in both output and new orders for the second straight month in March,” the report said, adding higher activity was reported in a range of sectors including agriculture, industry, services and wholesale and retail.

The findings of the survey offer a glimmer of hope after Uganda’s central bank said overall economic expansion is slowing.

This month, policymakers cut the benchmark lending rate by 50 basis points to 11 percent to speed up private sector credit flow and boost flagging growth.

The new Markit Stanbic survey found hiring by firms was also rising on the back of the higher orders.

“Staffing levels rose in the agriculture, services and wholesale and retail sectors,” the survey said.

The east African economy, which mostly relies on coffee for its foreign exchange needs, is expected to begin crude oil production in 2020.

– Kindly note: Detailed PMI data are only available under licence from Markit and customers need to apply to Markit for a licence. To subscribe to the full data, click on the following link: www.markit.com/Contact-Us. For further information, please phone Markit on +44 20 72602454 or email economics@markit.com.

Originally reported by Reuters.

Remember, no problem has a quick fix solution. Thus, always ensure to consult highly knowledgeable group of professionals whom would provide you with a collective advice, never individual advice. This group advice and approach is unique with CWIIL Group and is based on the overall Management Philosophy of all CWIIL Group Companies.

Consulting CWIIL Group of Companies, for any / all investment matters ensures advice based on highest level of knowledge which are given to you by a team of select research-oriented experts whom each will do their own assessment of your matter, and also assess it together, thus ensuring that in case a mistake has been made by one, it will be noticed and corrected even before it is being passed on to you. Receiving incorrect and un-knowledgeable investment advice can be disastrous and thus should be avoided.

CWIIL Group of Companies is a global group of multi-specialized units with diversified interests and activities, wherein each company is a separate legal entity registered under prevailing laws in different parts of the world. CWIIL Group of Companies Products, Services, Project and Solutions are in a multitude of Verticals including, but not limited to, Infrastructure, Power, Oil & Gas, Legal, Media, Technology, ITES, HR, Shipping, Aviation, Real Estate, Hospitals, Health and Medicine, Education, Funding & Investment, Business and Legal Consultancy, and Public Private Partnerships, and other CWIIL Group Units, worldwide, to name a few.

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