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  • Anglo American’s Mining Output Bounces Back After Lockdowns

    Anglo American’s Mining Output Bounces Back After Lockdowns

    (Bloomberg) -- Anglo American Plc said its mining operations have continued to recover from the early impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with production of diamonds and platinum rising sharply.The diversified miner’s production jumped by almost a quarter in the three months ending Sept. 30 compared with the previous three months. Anglo’s operations were hit harder than many of its rivals earlier this year due to its reliance on South Africa, where the government imposed stringent lockdown measures. It’s also the world’s biggest producer of diamonds, which were among the hardest-hit commodities.Read: Anglo American Third Quarter Diamond Production 7.2 Mln CaratsThe company maintained most of its full-year production targets, although it slightly lowered thermal coal forecasts after a strike in Colombia. The goal for platinum and palladium was increased after operations were quickly restarted following an explosion at a plant earlier this year.“We are currently operating at about 95% of our normal capacity,” said Anglo Chief Executive Officer Mark Cutifani. “We have also seen encouraging improvement in demand for rough diamonds as we approach the holiday selling season.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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    Anglo American Sued for Lead Poisoning in Zambia Mining Town

    (Bloomberg) -- A group of Zambian women and children filed a suit against Anglo American Plc in South Africa, alleging the company caused widespread lead poisoning from a mine it operated until 1974 in the northern city of Kabwe.The case, which is demanding compensation and a clean-up of the area, was filed in a Johannesburg court on Wednesday by 13 plaintiffs on behalf of an estimated 100,000 people, according to law firms Leigh Day and Mbuyisa Moleele. The firms plan to apply for a class-action suit. Anglo American will “defend its position,” the company said.“Generations of children have been poisoned by the operations of the Kabwe mine, originally known as Broken Hill, which caused widespread contamination of the soil, dust, water and vegetation,” the firms said in a statement. “The main sources of this poisonous lead were from the smelter, ore processing and tailings dumps.”The group lawsuit is the latest over Anglo American’s decades of mining in southern Africa. In 2018, it and five other companies paid about $390 million to settle a class action by former gold miners suffering from the respiratory disease silicosis.“Once the claim is received, the company will review the claims made by the firm and will take all necessary steps to vigorously defend its position,” Anglo said in an emailed response to questions. Anglo was never the majority owner of the Kabwe mine, it said, without giving more precise detail.Anglo held an interest in the mine, at one stage the world’s biggest lead operation, from 1925 to 1974, when it was nationalized by the government. While the operation about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of the Zambian capital, Lusaka, was eventually shut in 1994, output during Anglo’s ownership accounted for about two-thirds of the lead that now contaminates the area, the law firms said.Brain Damage“Anglo was the parent company and the head office of the Anglo Group that operated, managed and advised the mine,” the legal firms said in the court filing. “Anglo knew, or ought reasonably to have known of the risks of lead pollution from the mine and the measures that were required to prevent and address this pollution.”Lead poisoning can cause health problems ranging from learning difficulties to infertility, brain damage and, in some cases, death. In a 2019 report, Human Rights Watch said that a third of the population of Kabwe, or more than 76,000 people, live in lead-contaminated areas.“It is the worst place I’ve seen and that is in terms of the sheer size and the number of people affected,” said Jack Caravanos, a professor at New York University, who studies lead and other toxic waste. “In terms of the number of people affected, Kabwe is the most dangerous place on the planet” in regards to lead pollution, he said.The lawsuit was filed in South Africa because at the time of the mine’s operation Anglo was headquartered in Johannesburg. The company is now based in London.(Updates with detail on Anglo’s role in seventh paragraph, toxin professor’s comment in penultimate)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • India Says Slump in Diamond Exports Is Much Worse Than 2008

    India Says Slump in Diamond Exports Is Much Worse Than 2008

    (Bloomberg) -- Diamond exports from India, which polishes about 90% of the world’s rough diamonds, will collapse by as much as a quarter this year as the pandemic crushes demand and breaks supply chains.Overseas sales of cut and polished diamonds may slump 20% to 25% in the year ending March from $18.66 billion last year, according to Colin Shah, chairman of the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council. That will push exports to the lowest in data going back to the 2009 fiscal year on the association’s website.“In 2008, things were bad for a quarter and business recovered after that,” Shah said in an interview. “This is now two quarters gone.” While festivals such as Diwali, Christmas and Valentine’s Day will prop up demand in the next six months, that won’t be enough to lift full-year exports, he said.India imposed one of the world’s strictest lockdowns in March to contain the coronavirus outbreak. That brought activity to a halt and put the economy on course for its first annual contraction in more than four decades. With more than 7 million infections, the country is one of the world’s virus hot spots.The measures to control the pandemic meant production centers were closed or operating at very low levels, and rough-diamond imports fell in line with poor end-product demand. The country’s diamond exports sank 37% to $5.5 billion in the six months through September from the year-earlier period.Workers have now started returning to the diamond-polishing hubs of Surat, Mumbai and Kolkata, and factories are operating at 70% to 80% of capacity with social-distancing norms in place, Shah said. Still, it’s difficult to predict global supply chains as rules to control the virus change frequently, he said.Uneven RecoveryThe International Monetary Fund warned this week the world economy faces an uneven recovery until the virus is tamed. Chinese consumers are starting to spend again, while in Europe, the luxury sector is back near pre-pandemic levels despite a surge in Covid-19 cases that’s hurting normal tourism.De Beers sold about $467 million of rough diamonds in its eighth sales cycle of 2020, Anglo American Plc said Wednesday. Sales improved compared with $334 million in the previous cycle, and $297 million during the same cycle in 2019.“We continue to see a steady improvement in demand for rough diamonds in the eighth sales cycle of the year, with cutters and polishers increasing their purchases,” said Bruce Cleaver, chief executive officer of De Beers. “But these are still early days and there is a long way to go before we can be sure of a sustained recovery in trading conditions.”(Updates with De Beers sales, comments in final paragraphs)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.