Saturday, December 16, 2017

Diamonds of Angola - Isabel dos Santos

The Portuguese arrived around 1475 at the coast of what today is Angola. They played a pivotal role in the Atlantic slave trade: until 1830 well over a million Angolan people were exported as slaves, mainly to Brazil, but also to the Caribbean and North America. Modern diamond mining began around 1912, when gems were discovered in a stream in the Lunda region in the northeast. In 1917 Diamang was granted the concession for diamond mining and prospecting, which it held until independence. Control over the company was obtained by the government in 1977.
In 1979 a general law on mining activities was enacted that gave the state the exclusive right to prospect for and exploit minerals.
Angola is the world's fourth-largest diamond producing country by value and sixth by volume. Angola’s diamond industry is emerging from a long period of difficulty as a result of a civil war that ended in 2002.

The country’s production volume has remained relatively stable at 8 million carats per year since 2006.
Angola has extensive diamond reserves estimated at 180 million carats, mostly in the provinces of Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul in the central and northeastern parts of the country. More than 700 kimberlites have been located. Most are located along a north east - south west trend that extends into neighbouring DRC.
The Catoca diamond mine is the fourth largest in the world. The mine is owned by a consortium of international mining interests, including Endiama (32.8% ownership), Alrosa of Russia (32.8%), Odebrecht of Brazil (16.4%), and the Diamond Finance CY BV Group (16.8%). In 2012 the mine produced 6.5 million carats.
Isabel dos Santos, the billionaire daughter of the Angolan president, is the main beneficiary of the diamond trade in Angola. Popularly known in the world business circles as "Princess", she is the richest black woman in the world, Africa’s youngest billionaire, and owns major stakes in local and international companies.
She is the oldest daughter of Angola's president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos and she debuted on the Forbes 2013 list of the World's Billionaires with a fortune estimated at a minimum of $3 billion. This makes her Angola's first billionaire, 31st richest person in Africa and 736th billionaire in the world.

Forbes magazine recently investigated the partnership set up by Isabel dos Santos, through her husband Sindika Dokolo, and the Angolan state for the acquisition of the Swiss jeweller De Grisogono.
An email leak revealed how Isabel dos Santos manoeuvred to win a $4.5bn contract to build a dam. In one of his last acts as president, Dos Santos laid the dam’s first stone, days before stepping down from the job he has held for the past 38 years.

The Caculo Cabaça dam project was awarded two years ago to a consortium led by China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC), one of China’s top construction firms. The Chinese did not win the contract alone. They had a hidden shareholder who owns almost 40% of the consortium: the president’s eldest daughter, Isabel.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Nevsun Resources Ltd. - NSU.t

Nevsun Resources Ltd. - NSU.t operates the flagship Bisha Mine in Eritrea, East Africa. The Bisha deposit is a large, high-grade volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) producing Gold, Silver, Copper and Zinc.

Total reserves are about 22mt giving an expected mine life into 2025.

On December 6, 2017 the company released News

Nevsun Resources Ltd. (TSX:NSU) (NYSE MKT:NSU) today announced that the Timok Upper Zone National Instrument 43-101 technical report has been filed and is available for review under the Company's profile on SEDAR at, on EDGAR at and on the Company's website at

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Salt Mining

Halite rock salt
Salt (NaCl) is a mineral made up of white cube-shaped crystals composed of two elements, sodium and chlorine. It is translucent, colourless, and odourless.

For centuries salt has had a permanent place in the life of human beings. Salt was considered sacred, a gift from the Gods; it was used to confirm oaths and sacrifices. Salt served as money at various times and places, and the quest for salt has been the cause of bitter warfare. Offering bread and salt to visitors is, in many cultures, a traditional sign of hospitality.
Prior to industrialization, it was expensive, dangerous, and labor intensive to harvest the mass quantities of salt necessary for food preservation and seasoning. Mining salt caused rapid dehydration. Other problems related to accidental excessive sodium intake.

This made salt an extremely valuable commodity throughout history. Entire economies were based solely on salt production and trade.

Inca ancient salt production farm in Peru.
The World's oldest salt mine. The “Man in Salt” greets visitors on their journey through time at the Salzwelten Hallstatt Mine, Austria.

In 1734 a corpse preserved in salt was discovered in the deposit.

The Dachstein-Hallstättersee region has been appointed a UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site.
At the Chehrabad Salt Mine, Iranian miners recently uncovered the sixth "salt man" to be found in the last fifteen years. Salt men are ancient corpses killed or crushed in the cave and mummified by the extreme conditions. Hair, flesh and bone are all preserved by the dry salinity of the cave, and even internal organs have been found intact.

The first salt man, dated to 300 A.D., was discovered in 1993, sporting a long white beard, iron knives and a single gold earring. In 2004 another mummy was discovered 50 feet away, followed by another in 2005 and a "teenage" boy later that year. The oldest of the salt men found is truly ancient and has been carbon dated to 9550 B.C.
Egyptians may have been the first civilization to preserve fish and meat with salt. Food that could be preserved was highly valuable. Recognizing the worth of preserving food, Egyptians turned to trade. The Egyptians did not export salt by itself, it was bulky and difficult to transport, but rather food that was salted, which transported easily without spoiling and had a value added per pound.

Ancient Egypt's trade started a 4000 year-long history of trade and export involving salt and food.

Ancient method of boiling brine into pure salt in China.
In the Iron Age, the British evaporated salt by boiling seawater or brine from salt spri­ngs in small clay pots over open fires.

Roman salt-making entailed boiling the seawater in large lead-lined pans. In ancient Rome, salt on the table was a mark of a very rich patron; those who sat nearer the host were "above the salt," and those less favored were "below the salt".

Malta Roman salt flats

Ancient Roman Glass Salt Dishes
Roman salt mining was often done by slave or prison labor, and life expectancy was low. The Roman historian Pliny the Elder stated as an aside in his Natural History's discussion of sea water, that "[I]n Rome ... the soldier's pay was originally salt and the word 'salary' derives from it ..."

Roman Salt Pans in Hortales.

A salt waterfall in the Nemocon salt mine, Colombia. The mine is a popular tourist attraction.

Salar de Uyuni, the world’s biggest salt desert, in southwestern Bolivia.

The Maras salt mines in Cuzco, Peru. The Maras mines have been a source of salt since ancient pre-Incan civilizations and comprise about 3,000 small pools constructed on the slope of a mountain at the Urubamba valley in the Andean region of Cuzco.

Pools of mineral-colored water gathered on salt flats in holes dug by salt collectors on the Senegalese coastline. Women collect salt by hand into 50kg (110lbs) sacks, which sell for about $2. The salt is mainly used for preserving fish in areas without electricity

A truck drives between ponds at Rio Tinto’s Dampier Salt Limited’s facility at Port Hedland, about 1,600 km (960 mi) north of Perth, Australia.

A laborer works at a salt production factory in Nangqian county, northwest China’s Qinghai province.

Workers collect blocks of salt from the salt pan of Ethiopia’s Danakil depression. Generations of Afar salt merchants have hauled blocks of salt along camel caravan routes from the depression to the Tigray highlands.

The Saint Kinga’s Chapel in the Wieliczka Salt Mine near Krakow, Poland. The historic mine extends for a total of about 300 km (186 miles) and functioned continuously since the Middle Ages until 1996, when it was finally depleted.