A partnership between South Africa’s Philafrica Foods and Mozambique’s Novos Horizontes aimed to improve chicken production and supply in the coastal country

poultry industry (1)Philafrica invested especially in locally sourced raw materials, while Novos Horizontes had provided inputs on credit to 250 smallholder broiler outgrowers, from which it purchased full-grown birds for slaughtering, processing, and marketing.

But, according to company’s website, production challenges had reduced smallholder numbers to 130.

Philafrica CEO, Roland Decorvet, said that currently 60% to 70% of Mozambique’s poultry demand had to be imported due to lack of local production.


Andrew Cunningham, Novos Horizontes’ executive chairperson, said that with Philafrica’s support his company could continue working towards becoming Mozambique’s “premier poultry producer”.

Novos also wanted to expand into other value chains, where agro-industrial processing and building companies could pull production from Mozambique’s smallholder farmers.

A statement from Philafrica said it planned to invest between R1 billion to R1,5 billion in food categories across Africa over the next 18 to 24 months.




tobacco-2691501_1280The Top Employers Institute is an independent organisation studying the employee offerings of major employers around the world and comparing them against the international standard. The Top Employers certification recognises leading employers around the world, who provide excellent employee conditions, nurture and develop talent throughout all levels of the organisation, and which strive to continuously optimise employment practices.

Head of HR for BAT South Africa, Leslie Rance said: “This certification recognizes our efforts in building on our legacy of leaders through putting our employees first and developing our HR practices. Because of this, this year we have regained our continental certification and are incredibly proud of the HR teams in the end markets that have been actively driving these HR processes.”

Beverley Spencer-Obatoyinbo, Area Director for East and Central Africa said: “This is a very proud moment for BAT Kenya and the East and Central Africa HR team who work tirelessly to facilitate talent development, building a great cultural environment and therefore leaving a legacy of leaders for our business; a key pillar of BATs success. Certification in Kenya and now the African Continent is an achievement we are very excited about and I know the whole team will be too.

Chris McAllister, Area Director for West Africa Area said: “It is fantastic to be recognized for our employee practices on our first application for the Top Employer certification. We continue to appreciate and value all of our employees across all our markets in WAA and are committed to becoming an even better employer.”




mining-oren-oreTriton Minerals has locked away sales agreements for all planned production from its Ancuabe graphite project in Mozambique after recently inking a sales deal with one of the world’s biggest graphite producers.

The deal is with China-based Haida Graphite which produces a range of graphite products for customers in China, Japan, Korea, United States and Western Europe.

Triton (ASX: TON) closed 3.7 per cent higher at 8.5c on the news, valuing the company at about $60 million.

Graphite is one of the metals required in the development of lithium-ion batteries which are used in electric vehicles and other appliances.

The sales deal covers up to 25 per cent of Ancuabe graphite concentrate production. The company has previously executed conditional sales agreements with Chinese-backed Sinoma Overseas Development Company and Qingdao Tianshengda Graphite Company.

The Haida deal also covers marketing and technical collaboration for the supply of graphite products for flame retardant building materials, lithium ion batteries and refractory products.

“Attracting the interest of Haida, one of the world’s largest graphite producers, highlights the need for Chinese producers to expand and diversify their supply chains and secure high quality graphite in response to strong demand and new environmental regulations which have impacted domestic supply,” Triton managing director Peter Canterbury said.

A definitive feasibility study on the development of Ancuabe was on track for completion in December.

“We are also arranging for samples to be shipped to Australia to undertake a pilot plant which will support further detailed testwork to be undertaken by customers,” he said.

Ancuabe has a resource of 27.9 million tonnes at 6 per cent graphite concentrate and is forecast to produce 50,000 to 60,000 tonnes of graphite concentrate per annum.




dollar-941246_960_720The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has approved a private sector multi-currency line of credit of US$ 100 million and 1.3 billion South African Rands to Industrial Development Corporation Plc (IDC) of South Africa.

The operation will support industrialization projects in both South Africa and other Regional Member Countries (RMCs).

IDC is South Africa’s pre-eminent development finance institution (DFI), owned by the South African government. Its mandate is to promote industrialization in Africa by investing in, and developing the industrial base of South Africa and other RMS, thereby helping to scale-up the AfDB’ s High 5 agenda, particularly “Industrialize Africa”. Fifty percent of the funding (the rand tranche) will be used for projects in South Africa and the balance (the USD tranche) will be directed to regional projects in Mozambique, Malawi, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Mauritius, Swaziland and Sudan.

IDC is managed as an independent DFI, operating in a sustainable and self-financing manner with a strong governance structure. The Bank has a good and long-standing relationship with IDC. The current operation is the 3rd non-sovereign guaranteed Line of Credit from the Bank. The recently concluded extended supervision of the previous facility (US$ 200 million) indicated that the Bank’s support resulted in creation and retention of over 15,000 jobs by supporting agro-industries, logistics, transport and other industry infrastructure in Senegal, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Swaziland.

This project is timely considering current economic challenges in South Africa as AfDB and IDC together can play a countercyclical role. The support is much needed as raising funds is becoming more difficult for South Africa and government owned entities such as IDC due to the country sovereign downgrade. The project will address the IDC’s funding gap and reduce asset-liability mismatch.

The LOC is intended to support IDC’s 5-year Corporate Plan for the period 2016/17–2020/21. Specifically, it will be on-lent to IDC’s clients in key focus areas, including (i) priority industrial value chains such as chemical and pharmaceuticals, metals and mining, agro-processing and agriculture value chains. It will also support (ii) industrial infrastructure, including energy, logistics, water, and telecommunications; (iii) new industries that derive from innovation, science and technology. The LOC will also significant opportunities in high impact labour intensive sectors and assist businesses in distress.


Metal Tiger's Thai venture arranges funding ahead of float

JCBMichael McNeilly, chief executive, said the new zone consisted of more than 72m of 1.5% copper


Drilling has struck more copper deep down

Metal Tiger PLC (LON:MTR) has reported another potential significant copper find by its partner at the T3 deposit in Botswana and this time directly beneath the current resource.

Michael McNeilly, chief executive, said the new zone consisted of more than 72m of 1.5% copper from 250m down with a high grade zone of 18m at 2.7% Cu and 52g/t silver from 280m.

“If this New Zone mineralisation is shown to be laterally extensive by the continuing deep infill drilling programme, it has the potential to deliver a significant T3 Resource upgrade and further improve the potential project economics.”

Metal Tiger’s partner MOD will incorporate these findings into the ongoing T3 Pre-feasibility study, while drilling under a current in-fill program will now go deeper to test for the new zone.

The current T3 deposit scoping study was based on a 2Mtpa processing plant, an indicative mine life of 10 years and an average production rate of 21,800tpa of copper and 665,000tpa of silver.



Robotic palletizing, pallet wrapping proves successful for Nephron

robotNephron Pharmaceuticals Corp. is a global leader in the manufacture of generic respiratory medications. All of its products are manufactured in the U.S., and are supplied to retail pharmacies, hospitals, home care companies, long-term care facilities, mail-order pharmacies, and various other customers worldwide.

One of the Orlando, FL-based company's leading products is an Albuterol Sulfate inhalation solution– a bronchodilator used for the relief of bronchospasm in patients with reversible airway obstruction disease and acute attacks of bronchospasm. The small vials that carry the medication are sensitive to light and temperature and must be hermetically sealed in a foil pouch and stored in controlled conditions.

Nephron specializes in blow/fill/seal (BFS) manufacturing, a technology that allows a flexible plastic vial of medication to be formed, filled, and sealed in a continuous process without human intervention in a sterile, securely enclosed area. Filled vials are then foil-pouched and packed into cartons, with 12 cartons packed into a shipping case. The cases holding vials packaged for sale in a card format 

are placed on end for palletizing, with vials placed in an upright position for shipping.

When Nephron began planning this new production facility to meet its growing market demand, its goal was to make the entire production process as automated as possible. This included integrating the packaging line with laser-guided vehicles delivering medication and packaging material to the line to create fully automated production, as well as automated pallet building, protective corner board placement, and stretch wrapping systems for the packaging lines.

“This was intended to allow us to minimize line personnel,” says Patrick Smith, Nephron R&D Engineering. “Automation enables the process to run more efficiently, consistently, and with mpalletesinimal human interaction that can potentially cause quality issues.“

In 2009, Brenton® Engineering, a Pro Mach company, had installed a custom robotic system to depalletize and palletize trays for the Albuterol Sulfate lines at Nephron. Given the success of that installation, Brenton was selected for the lines in the new South Carolina plant and to add a similar end-of-line automated system to a new line being built at the Orlando facility. The design of those systems began in late 2013.

Building and protecting pallet loads

There were several challenges to be addressed by the project’s end-of-line system in the South Carolina facility.

The first was that while the cartons of pouched vials for a particular medication and pallet pattern were packed into shipping cases in traditional configurations, as the cases traveled the conveyor with the short side leading, those cases were required to be palletized on their ends, in order to keep the vials upright during shipping. This was a change from the original design specification for the specific medication, but Brenton adapted the robotic system to handle it.

The second requirement was that Nephron required the top of the pallet to be wrapped in order for it to be covered and sealed to provide protection from moisture infiltration.

To meet the challenge of re-orienting the cases as they reach the palletizing area, the pallet-building robot (a Fanuc M410iB-140H 5-Axis robot) included in the system design was designed to use half of its grippers to invert each case on end before positioning the case in the pallet load. That allowed the system to build the entire pallet with the shipping cases resting on their end panels.machine

In spite of the fact that the pallet load was built with the cases resting on their shorter sides, the loads proved to be stable during factory testing.

Once the pallet is built, it is conveyed to an FA automatic stretch wrapper turntable from Orion, another Pro Mach company. The next step is to apply protective corner boards. Nephron requires corner boards on all of its pallet loads to ensure that product or package quality is not compromised during shipping.

A Fanuc LRMate 200iC robot places the boards. In this instance, since the Nephron line operates at a moderate pace, the boards are placed individually as the load indexes 90° on the FA turntable, rather than on two corners at a time, as on higher-speed lines where speed is essential. The slower speed also helps maintain the stability of the pallet load until it is securely wrapped.

Once corner boards are placed, the Orion FA system wraps the load at 15 revolutions/min, securing the entire load. When the wrap is complete, the load is conveyed off the wrapper to the adjacent gantry top sheet placement area. The polypropylene (PP) top sheet is positioned, after which the load is conveyed back onto the FA turntable for a final wrap that secures the top sheet to the load and provides tamper evidence.

The fabrication of the new palletizing systems for the lines at Nephron’s South Carolina facility was completed in mid-October 2013, and assembly of the systems began the week after fabrication. The first set of systems underwent Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT) in April 2014 at Orion’s manufacturing facility. Following installation at the Nephron South Carolina facility in late October 2014 by Brenton, the new systems were debugged and tested onsite. They will next be integrated into Nephron’s Manufacturing Information Systems (MIS) and be commissioned. That is expected to be completed in late spring 2015.

“Orion and Brenton were very thorough in ensuring that everything in the system worked as specified,” says Smith, “and in adjusting it to meet the challenges that came up during installation.”


Mozambique to export avocados to Europe

avosThe company Westfalia Fruto Moçambique has announced that it will export avocados produced in the central province of Manica to the international market and especially France.

Westfalia consultant Manuel Roriz said that the first consignment of 400 tons could be ready for export to France this coming March.

Westfalia Fruto Moçambique is an agricultural subsidiary of the South African group of the same name. It has been operating in Manica province for two years and occupies an area of about 250 hectares.

The company invested nearly US$480 million in a first phase and has announced plans to open new plantations in Manica. The aim is to increase exports to 7,000 tons by 2021.

Westfalia employs more than a hundred workers in Manica and also produces lychees.


Mineral sands recovery underlines Base Resources' quality

mineral sandsBase Resources has a top quality mineral sands asset at Kwale and is benefiting from a recovery in the market “We’ve built an absolutely first rate operation,” says Tim Carstens of Base Resources Limited (LON:BSE)(ASX:BSE). “We’ve got the place absolutely humming.”

As a flagship asset, the Kwale mineral sands mine in Kenya has plenty going for it.

It’s low cost, it has a balanced range of products across the mineral sands suite, and it has customers that want to buy.

Against that backdrop Base has been able to put ilmenite prices up recently, and is likely to be able to do so again before too long.

But if that all sounds too good to be true, it hasn’t come easy.

When Base first put its development plans for Kwale in place mineral sands prices were forecast to rise and keep on rising.

Instead, they dropped into a death spiral about a year before Kwale came into production, from which they’re only just beginning to recover.

What kept Base alive was the quality of Kwale itself and with prices rising that is becoming very evident.

“The thing that underpins us,” continues Carstens, “is that we have one of the best mineral sands deposits in the world.”

It has taken investors some time to cotton on, however, as the wider storms in the mining equities markets and in mineral sands in particular, have rather taken the shine off the Kwale operation. 

Shares up six-fold

Since February 2016 Base’s shares have risen nearly sixfold as mining markets in general have recovered and as the read-across into the mineral sands space has become obvious.

Carstens, “It all started to bite in 2015. We saw the price falls starting to compromise viability across the sector. We saw significant volume reductions coming out of China and Russia.”

That meant there was less supply to go round. But demand was still in place, albeit that it’s seasonal across the northern hemisphere summer.

“With the end use of our products being ubiquitous in everyday life, demand can’t just fall off a cliff,” continues Carstens.Instead, he argues that what has mattered has been the amount of time it’s taken previously built up inventories to work their way through the system.” And, after a long period of pain, it seems the inventories are now largely gone in the titanium (TiO2) supply chain.

The primary market for ilmenite is in paint pigment, and demand for paint pigment is fairly correlated to global GDP.That’s currently in growth mode - in spite of the Brexit chaos - and with the US in reasonable shape and China still on the march, is likely to continue to that way.That bodes well for Kwale, which as it stands boasts a nine year mine life, but which may yet turn out to have capacity to produce for much longer than that.Indeed, recent drilling has indicated mineral zone extensions to the north and south at two prospective areas adjoining or near Kwale: the south-west sector and north east sector. 

Results boosted by rising prices

In the first half of the 2016/17 trading year, Base sold 236,488 tonnes of ilmenite, 42,796 tonnes of rutile, 17,957 tonnes of zircon and 3,397 tonnes of zircon low grade all of which came from its minerals sands operation. On revenues of A$90.6mln (£56mln), up from A$81.7mln, interim profits rebounded to A$3.82mln from a loss of US$11.3mln.

Net debt reduced to A$180mln (US$129.5mln) compared with A$204mln six months earlier.