Deloitte on mining: Weak commodity prices, declining grades and slowdown in demand from China
Weak commodity prices, declining grades and a falloff in demand from China will continue global mining sectors’ downward cycle well into 2016. However, regulatory mandates, tax burdens and stakeholder expectations remain as high as ever. This is according to the Deloitte’s Mining Tracking the Trends 2016 report released today.
“Similar to the boom cycle, where people imagined prices would go up forever, people now imagine the market will never recover. Neither extreme represents the truth. What is true, however, is that cycle times are lengthening thus presenting less desirable cash conversion cycles to investors and operator communities alike. With this as backdrop, it could take years to adjust to current market forces – but it is still a cycle and heavy downstream mining investments are likely to recover faster due to value chain proximity to clients,” said Salam Awawdeh, Partner and Energy and Resources Leader for Deloitte Middle East.
Awawdeh added, “while our mining clients in the Middle East are affected by this cyclicality, their specific impact and planning priorities range are varied and include:
- Maximizing on their traditional competitive advantage from low cost fuel and energy costs.
- Balancing their quasi–government organizational set-up with that of private sector players that excel in navigating perfect competition environment through adoption of leading organizational models.
- Repositioning through Upstream assets exist and market consolidations.
- Dealing with water scarcity.
- Dealing with the lack of trained mining professional.
- National content and delivery on localization imperatives.”
The top issues facing mining companies in 2016 according to the Deloitte’s Mining Tracking the Trends 2016 report include:
- Going lean: Operational excellence remains front and center
In an effort to achieve true operational excellence, industry leaders are leveraging best practices from other industries and tackling difficult issues, including labor relations.
- Innovation: Preparing for exponential change
Innovation is a critical theme for miners. However, many mining companies remain at the early stage of the adoption curve – placing most of their innovation focus on technological optimization of old techniques rather than looking for new ways to configure and engage externally. Short-term strategies miners should consider adopting include: enhanced innovation, collaborative ecosystems, digital workforce engagement, and improved asset management, aligning work processes with energy availability, 3D printing and modularization.
- China’s transition: Looking for the silver lining
Given China’s influence on the global economy, miners should take steps to understand the global impact of the country’s domestic market trends – particularly as the Chinese Government follows an increasingly interventionist path. Concerns over currency weakness may spur Chinese enterprises to buy overseas assets over the short-term – including natural resources. To prepare for these incipient shifts, it would be worth miners considering extreme scenarios, developing plans relative to China’s investment initiatives and leveraging Chinese expertise in areas such as design, construction and financing.
- Adjusting to the new normal
Commodity demand – particularly out of China – is down, but production is not falling. In fact, some producers have ramped up output to reduce unit costs, consolidate market share or avoid the costs associated with shutting down older mines.
- Preparing for inevitable change
The global move towards renewables has threatened the outlook for thermal coal. Although fossil fuels are likely to continue playing a critical role in the global energy mix, the move to alternative power sources is inevitable.
- Changing the nature of stakeholder dialogues
Old tactics no longer work. Instead, a new form of stakeholder engagement is needed – one that can demonstrably meet the demands of multiple groups. Miners should align their investments with the underlying needs of their disparate stakeholders to fully maximize opportunities.
- Starved of finance, miners struggle to survive
Attracting capital has become harder than ever, as segments of the industry continue running at a loss. In response, companies will likely continue to seek out alternative sources of financing – even when the terms are not entirely in their favor.
- Tax challenges will impact yesterday’s management
To keep pace with the evolving tax environment, companies should take steps to understand the financial implications of these new tax rules, assess their operational and corporate structures, take a fresh look at their management and engage with government stakeholders – especially where tax rules related to stability or production agreements threaten to change.
- The M&A paradox: To buy or not to buy
Despite predictions of a pick-up in mining M&A, M&A deal values and volumes continue to disappoint. In fact, the most active deal flow in recent years has come from divestments and rescue-type deals. To take advantage of these opportunities, miners may want to consider buying counter-cyclically and thinking twice before divesting.
- An expanded view of corporate and personal welfare
Industry risks related to both safety and security continue to grow. To enhance their safety records and security postures, miners may want to strengthen their safety procedures.
To view the report, please visit http://bit.ly/1ITOU3G
We cannot ‘lockdown’ to avoid the climate crisis
By Vaughan Lindsay, CEO, ClimateCare
The parallels between the Coronavirus response and how we could all collaboratively tackle the climate crisis should not be overlooked. Tackling either problem, for instance, has changed our lifestyle in so many ways. In short, we have all have to make adaptations for a much longer-term gain. I also believe that the pandemic has highlighted to us all that we can live differently; indeed, that we are all incredibly adaptable.
We cannot isolate from the climate crisis.
Nevertheless, there are also some very important differences too; namely the speed in which we witness effects and how long we will all live with the impact. Covid-19 is more immediate, it’s on everyone’s minds (no matter how fatigued we all are by the topic after a year of living with it). Climate change, on the other hand, feels like a much longer-term threat which doesn’t invoke the same kind of unease or fear – or at least not enough for people to take immediate action. Yet, as Mark Carney so eloquently summed up recently, the world is heading for mortality rates equivalent to the Covid crisis every year by mid-century unless action is taken right now. “One of the biggest issues is you cannot self-isolate from climate,” he said. “That is not an option. We cannot retreat in and wait out climate change, it will just get worse.” Bill Gates also further highlighted the severity of the situation too when he recently commented that solving climate change would be “the most amazing thing humanity has ever done” and by comparison, ending the pandemic is “very, very easy”, the billionaire founder of Microsoft claimed.
Ultimately, the short-term imperative of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic doesn’t alter the urgency of dealing with the climate crisis. And certainly, there is currently no ‘silver bullet’ for solving either the pandemic or climate change. However, there are a set of agreed actions that every business and individual can (and should) take to help tackle these issues. To tackle Covid-19 we lockdown, we work from home, we continue social distancing, washing our hands and wearing masks to protect one another and the NHS. And of course, we continue to roll out the vaccines and treatments for longer term protection.
On the other hand, we cannot lockdown to tackle the climate crisis. Rather for climate change, it’s about understanding and taking responsibility for our climate impact, both by changing our behaviour to reduce our carbon footprint and by decarbonising many of our business models and lifestyles. .
Now is the time to build back better.
To ‘build back better’ then we need to work towards a sustainable low or zero carbon recovery, and this needs to be done with realism and integrity. Not only does this mean that we need to work together to create integrated and robust climate strategies, but we also need to take action to decarbonise sooner rather than later and while we make these structural changes, we need to ensure that we are compensating for all residual emissions as part of everyday business too.
Taking action (over pledges).
Despite the pandemic, it was encouraging last year to see the ever-increasing number of corporates committing to achieve Net Zero status. However, whilst it is great to see firms working hard to measure their footprint and set reduction targets, many firms still admitted to us that they are waiting to get this right before they take action to reduce and compensate for their emissions. This remains a concern. Because, whilst these plans and long-term targets are commendable, they do little for the environmental damage that is being done right now. There is a risk of action hiding behind plans.
Ultimately, we need to more than halve emissions by 2030; this is equivalent to reducing the current emissions of China, India, the EU and the US combined. It’s a mammoth task. To tackle it we need to drive actions simultaneously and at pace, and then modify and adjusting moving forward. In simple terms, there really isn’t time to take things one step at a time anymore. We need to take action right away. As such – and as we continue through this coming year – we need to see more of these ambitious plans and statements put into practice, as companies continue to turn their plans (and pledges) into action.
Time to raise the bar.
The issue of climate change is now central to nearly all forward-thinking corporates and we are now witnessing one of most encouraging environments for them to act on this. It’s vital to ensure that the role of the voluntary carbon market delivers real additional emission reductions on the ground and at scale.
Never before has there been a better time to raise the bar and our own ambitions about what positive corporate action looks like. Because the climate will not respond to targets and pledges. Only action counts.
UK house price growth picks up unexpectedly in February – Nationwide
LONDON (Reuters) – British house price growth picked up unexpectedly last month, mortgage lender Nationwide said on Tuesday, defying expectations of a slowdown as finance minister Rishi Sunak readies new budget measures to boost the market.
House prices rose 6.9% in annual terms in February from 6.4% in January, Nationwide said, above all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists that had pointed to a slowdown to 5.6%.
In February alone, prices rose 0.7%, more than reversing a 0.2% decline in January and bucking expectations for a 0.3% drop.
Nationwide said the outlook for the housing market was particularly uncertain right now, with the potential for it to be boosted further by Sunak when he presents his annual budget on Wednesday.
But the market could slow because of a weakening labour market, the lender said.
Sunak looks set to extend a temporary cut to property purchase taxes until June and announce a new mortgage guarantee scheme for first-time buyers, according to media reports.
Samuel Tombs, economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics consultancy, said he doubted any new scheme would solve affordability problems faced by first-time buyers.
“Nonetheless, our forecast for house prices to drop by about 2% this year now looks too downbeat, though we’ll wait for details of the guarantee scheme to be released before providing new numbers,” Tombs said.
(Reporting by Andy Bruce; editing by Michael Holden)
Jack Ma loses title as China’s richest man after coming under Beijing’s scrutiny
By Yingzhi Yang and Brenda Goh
BEIJING (Reuters) – Alibaba and Ant Group founder Jack Ma has lost the title of China’s richest man, a list published on Tuesday showed, as his peers prospered while his empire was put under heavy scrutiny by Chinese regulators.
Ma and his family had held the top spot for China’s richest in the Hurun Global Rich List in 2020 and 2019 but now trail in fourth place behind bottled water maker Nongfu Spring’s Zhong Shanshan, Tencent Holding’s Pony Ma and e-commerce upstart Pinduoduo’s Collin Huang, the latest list showed.
His fall on anti-trust issues,” the Hurun report said.
Ma’s recent woes were triggered by an Oct. 23 speech in which he blasted China’s regulatory system, leading to the suspension of his Ant Group’s $37 billion IPO just days before the fintech giant’s public listing.
Regulators have since tightened anti-trust scrutiny on the country’s tech sector, with Alibaba taking much of the heat; the market regulator launched an official anti-trust probe into Alibaba in December.
Chinese regulators also began to tighten their grip on the fintech sector and have asked Ant to fold some of its businesses into a financial holding company to be regulated like traditional financial firms.
Ma, who is not known for shying away from the limelight, then disappeared from the public eye for about three months, triggering frenzied speculation about his whereabouts. He re-emerged in January with a 50-second video appearance.
China’s current richest man, Zhong, made his first appearance at the top spot largely thanks to the share price performances of Nongfu Spring and vaccine maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise, which he also controls.
Tencent’s Ma saw his wealth swell 70% over the year to 480 billion yuan ($74.16 billion) while Pinduoduo’s Huang’s fortune grew 283% to 450 billion yuan, the list said. In comparison, the wealth of Ma and his family grew 22%, to 360 billion yuan.
Zhang Yiming, founder of TikTok owner ByteDance, broke into the top five rankings among Chinese billionaires in Hurun’s Global Rich List for the first time, with an estimated personal wealth of $54 billion.
($1 = 6.4724 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Yingzhi Yang in Beijing and Brenda Goh in Shanghai. Editing by Gerry Doyle)
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