Bullion Star – This weeks Blog Q&A guest needs no introduction if you are from the precious metals industry as it’s none other than Ronan Manly Content Manager and Precious Metals Analyst at BullionStar Singapore aka Ronan the Destroyer.
1. So Ronan I am sure a number of people have heard about your background from online podcasts and videos but can you give us a little back ground about where you are from and how you got into the bullion business?
I grew up in Dublin, Ireland and went to university there, beginning a financial career in various roles including stockbroking, then moved to Morgan Stanley in London (via a stint in Morgan Stanley New York) where I worked in the technology division. Staying in London, I then moved to a buy side role managing equity portfolios at Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA).
I became interested in investing in physical gold in the early 2000s and had a nice stack of gold Krugerrands which I used to buy a few at a time in various places in the City of London and West End, but still, at that time I just kept an eye on the gold market and I remember reading Jim Sinclair’s website religiously each day.
I came back to Dublin for a break in around 2012 and by that stage I had gotten to know the guys in GoldCore, Mark O’Byrne and Stephen Flood. As Mark knew I liked to research, he asked me to write a few reports for GoldCore, which then became quite a lot of reports and website content. In around 2014, Koos Jansen who was working for BullionStar asked me if I’d like to do a blog on the BullionStar site, so that was how I got to know BullionStar, and then I subsequently began to do a consultancy role with BullionStar which turned into a full time role.
2. Can you tell us more about your title “Content Manager and Precious Metals Analyst” and what that entails?
A lot of people might know my name for writing my own blog / articles on the BullionStar website, and that’s certainly part of the role, but I also wrote content for other parts of the site, such as the ‘Inside’ BullionStar Blogs (which are more company and sector specific articles), and educational articles about why and how to buy precious metals and such things as the content for our ‘Gold University’. I also provide content for help text, product descriptions and other parts of the site, pages that BullionStar customers would interact with when transacting on the website. For my own blog subject matter, I like to look at current developments in the gold and silver markets, and sometimes, but not always, with a focus on country / central bank activities, LBMA, COMEX, ETFs etc.
As well as that I am active on some of our social media channels, such as Twitter, Telegram and Facebook, providing analysis and news and insight. At times, I also talk over email with a customers if they had a specific question they wanted my opinion on.
There are also administrative parts of the job behind the scenes which might include reviewing legal documentation, helping on analysing business development, or checking in-house tech changes. I also talk to reporters from the financial media, providing commentary about the precious metals markets and at times helping a reporter with an article that they may be writings. BullionStar has to date been cited in many of the leading financial newspapers and media sites including the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Straits Times, Bloomberg, Reuters, RT.com, Real Vision, and also in many country specific new sites, from Vietnam to China to Germany to the US.
As well as written content, audio visual content is critical in this day and age, and I also organise and host the video interviews that we create for the BullionStar Perspective series, in which personalities from the bullion world talk about topics relevant to the precious metals markets. These interviews are published on the BullionStar YouTube channel. We are also making some pretty cool new documentaries on topics related to the gold market. So stay tuned for that also.
3. You are currently based in Brazil, what took you there in the first place?
I went to Brazil first for family reasons, and pretty soon got a full time visa, which meant I could stay and come and go anytime, which is great. The weather in Brazil is amazing and the beaches as good as you cold imagine, and the people relaxed. Its very normal in Brazil right now, despite what the mainstream scaremongering media would have you believe.
4. You joined BullionStar approx. 6 years ago now and was working along-side Jan Nieuwenhuijs who went by the moniker Koos Jansen, Jan has moved on now which leaves you alone which is a mammoth task, so one question I had is how do you pick your stories/articles?
When I started writing blogs for BullionStar, I had an interest in the central bank gold market because they are the biggest holders and the most secretive players behind the scenes. That secrecy, which is something that the LBMA also practices, attracted me to cover those areas. I remember when Jan used to be with us, he’d specialise quite a bit in the Chinese gold market and did some great stuff on Fort Knox, and also on the central banks. I seemed to become an LBMA specialist (probably much to the annoyance of the LBMA).
Nowadays, while I still write about the LBMA and the COMEX and the big bullion bank players in the market, but I like to also often cover new developments in the gold and silver market, so any topic is possible. Recently, I did some interesting articles about the silver market, which was great for both me (as I learned a lot more about the silver market) and hopefully the readers also (who learned some new things about all the shenanigans with the CFTC, and bullion banks in the silver markets in London and New York.
I also like to get an instinctive feel for whether a topic will cause a stir in the market and drop some bombshells. I’ve helped ZeroHedge out in the past and there were various very popular articles in the past which I sort of put together but which were anonymous, but that were cool to contribute to and that gained millions of views. I think the Tylers like me because I sort of helped them out at times and they help me by putting a lot of my articles on the main page, which gets tonnes of traffic.
On the BullionStar site, I also wrote all the content for our Gold University and also some of the inhouse BullionStar blogs. The BullionStar blogs can be about aspects of the company and also areas that are relevant to BullionStar’s business.
5. Your articles are always a deep dive in terms of data analytics, where did you pick up that skill?
I gained quite a lot of practice in London Business School researching for reports and mini theses, and I also did computer science for a while, and I used to be a research analyst in a stockbrokers. My career in Morgan Stanley and Dimensional also involved a lot of analysis of both inhouse data and markets and stocks. So I guess all of that rubbed off on me. As did the need to add sources so people don’t think I’m spoofing when I mention ‘facts’. There is a lot of stuff written in the bullion industry on the web where people make claims without backing it up, and I think it doesn’t look great if its just empty claims or one guy quoting another, neither of which have any sources. Maybe sometimes I go overboard with deep dives, but it’s a nice skill to have. I have to though produce more stuff which is easier to digest … lolz
6. What can you say about the current situation re: PSLV vs. SLV?
The problems I see with the iShares Silver Trust (SLV) are that a) its closely connected with the LBMA bullion banks, and b) that it claims to source its silver in the opaque and secretive LBMA vaulting system in London. Even though SLV produces a daily bar list of its silver holdings, there is little transparency on how it sources the silver that appears in vast quantities on that bar list, within the vaults of Brinks, Malca Amit and Loomis in London.
The Sprott Physical Silver Trust (PSLV) on the other hand goes out and buys silver bars on the market in Canada, New York and recently London. But it does not produce a daily bar list. One thing that PSLV has to do better through is to start producing a more frequent bar list, that shows where exactly all of its silver is being held on each publication date. This would show, for example, how much of the silver it bought in London is still there, or is in transit to Canada.
I can see where Chris is coming from with that name. I think with that name he is trying to capture the fact that my research can uncover facts about the precious metals markets which the establishment and bullion banks would rather nobody knew. And also maybe that I can destroy BS arguments from some of the gold market apologists. In school sometimes they used to call me ‘Ronan the Barbarian”, so the memes which some silverbug people have created of Ronan the Destroyer using images of Conan (Arnold) with my face, maybe they are on to something.
8. What was your take on the JPMorgan to pay almost $1 billion fine to resolve U.S. investigation into trading practices and the on going DOJ Investigation into Former LBMA Board member and JP Morgan managing director Michael Nowak?
Its pretty obvious from COMEX precious metal futures price action that they are constantly manipulated to cap the prices, especially during New York and London trading hours. And the biggest players in those markets are the LBMA bullion banks. The CFTC regulators spent years in an investigation (2008-2013) finding no evidence of COMEX precious metals price manipulation, and it was left to the US Department of Justice to bring the matter to a head over 2018-2020.
I think its disgraceful that any investment bank or its traders which has been found guilty of gold and silver price manipulation is still a member of the LBMA, let alone running the LBMA show, as is the case of JP Morgan. The conclusion must be that the LBMA Precious Metals Code of Conduct is a total joke. That banks that signed up to that code allegedly continue to manipulate prices. Why have these banks not being expelled from the LBMA? And the investigation into JP Morgan’s Nowak, who was an LBMA Board member when he was charged by the DoJ, that’s the icing on the cake that shows the den of vipers operating out of the London “gold” and “silver” markets.
9. Despite these fines we can see that manipulation in precious metals continues, what can and should be done to mitigate this from your perspective?
The LBMA system should be disbanded. Outlaw the LBMA unallocated credit system. Close down the LBMA Gold and Silver Price auctions. Close down the LBMA clearing system (which is called) LPMCL. Establish a physical gold and silver daily price auction that has nothing to do with the LBMA. Publish all outstanding gold lending positions of central banks. Publish all outstanding unallocated positions of the bullion banks. Investigate the Bank of England for collusion with the LBMA. Have an independent investigate into the gold lending operations of the central banks and BIS. Overhaul the COMEX and put it under an independent regulator which is nothing to do with the US Government. Prohibit any bank which has been prosecuted for precious metals manipulation from trading on COMEX.
10. Do you think the Bullion Banks should have a say in the Good Delivery status of the LBMA Gold & Silver as it’s a conflict of interest?
No, and furthermore, the LBMA should not be in charge of the Good Delivery List. The LBMA was founded by and is controlled by a cartel of bullion banks. An organization founded by banks shouldn’t be in charge of anything to do with the physical gold market. So that is the conflict of interest. And it’s a huge conflict of interest. On a practical basis, the influential banks in the LBMA can use their influence to block refineries in certain countries, such as the UAE, from becoming Good Delivery refiners or even from remaining on the COMEX Good Delivery list. And all of that, as we’ve seen, is a problem.
11. Why do you think the LBMA is slow to react or fails to act against its members when they clearly breach the Global Precious Metals Code?
Because the LBMA is run by the bullion banks. The LBMA is like a sock puppet whose hand is the ventriloquist – the LBMA banks. It’s like a puppet theatre. And so the LBMA would never discipline a banking member, as it would be like a Punch and Judy puppet disciplining the ventriloquist – “whose a naughty boy then?”
I hadn’t seen that but its interesting and to be expected, as there was huge opposition and pushback from various gold trading centres about the LBMA sending the letter in the first place, and a widely held view that the LBMA had overstepped its mark in thinking it could lecture entire gold trading centers on how to run themselves, especially given the conflicts of interest about how and where certain LBMA refiners source their gold.
13. I am hearing from LBMA members that the membership price has doubled since 2020 price, given the conference organisers have been all online during Covid, what do you make of this?
It looks like the various LBMA conferences were cash cows and an important source of LBMA revenues. Now that the conferences have been cancelled during this COVID hysteria, it looks like they are ramping up the membership fees to keep the show going. The LBMA offices beside the Bank of England in the City of London are not cheap you know.
14. Where do you see the future of price discovery in the global markets going forward?
The bullion bank cartel which runs the LBMA want the future of precious metals price discovery to be the same as the current structure of precious metals price discovery, i.e. a fractional-reserve unallocated synthetic ‘paper’ system controlled by them via the LBMA auctions, the LPMCL clearing system, their dominance of COMEX trading, and the entire infrastructure of trading, clearing, and vaulting which they control and dominate. Likewise, the regulators in the Bank of England, FCA, CFTC, Fed and BIS want this status quo to continue, as it too is in their interest. But will it?
That depends on the actions of those in the world’s physical gold and silver markets, in a geo-political sense countries like China, Russia, and the UAE, and in an industry sense, the gold and silver mining companies. The gold and silver mining companies, with a few exceptions, are pathetic in never calling out the price manipulation of the bullion banks. So there’s not much hope there. Beyond a coordinated shift to physical pricing by groups of countries, if real assets such as gold and silver were to enter a sustained mega bull market, the world’s retail public could potentially break the paper pricing system via sheer demand for physical gold and silver.
15. Where can people follow your work or interact with you and or Bullion Star online?
My blog articles are on the BullionStar.com website under the Research section https://www.bullionstar.com/blogs/. In addition, the BullionStar website is a great resource for a wide range of other articles, charts, live gold and silver price data, the Gold University articles, and much more.
We also have a popular presence on Twitter at @BullionStar, and BullionStar accounts on Instagram. And we have a relatively new account on Telegram, which has got a good following
Ghana Gold – This week’s Blog Guest is Stephen Yeboah, who is a policy analyst, researcher and strategic communicator on energy, climate, agriculture, finance and commodities in Africa. Stephen has been selected twice in a row as LinkedIn Top Voice on ‘Economy and Finance’ and Philanthropy and Global Development for 2017 and 2018 respectively. Stephen is the CEO of Commodity Monitor, a Ghanaian-based commodity trading, logistics and research company, which is leading the drive towards mercury-free mining in Ghana and other West African countries.
1. We always start with the guest giving a quick rundown of their background, so let’s start from the beginning so people get so see where you started along this path?
I have had keen interest in the development status of Africa. What’s accounting for Africa’s inability to grow and transform? Growing up in Ghana, this question has underpinned most of my engagements so far. Thus, my background in international policy and development. Africa’s progress in hinged on how it gets its policies right. This has been the foundation of all advanced economies.
2. Can you tell us about the work you did for the Africa Progress Panel with former UN Secretary-General Mr. Kofi Annan?
The Africa Progress Panelcame out of the idea of the late former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The Panel’s work aimed to leverage policy change through unique combination of cutting-edge analysis, advocacy and diplomacy. It was a unique opportunity to work for a fellow Ghanaian Kofi Annan and his status in global development made it special. I worked as a researcher. I was an honour as it offered me the chance to work towards advancing the progress of the African continent. The panel’s work unearthed key issues from the natural resources sector to agriculture to energy. The impact was phenomenal.
We shined the light on key (mis)governance issues of Africa’s extractive sector. Why is Africa poor despite its abundant resources? I was part of the team that probed the causatives of this problem. And worked at finding solutions through actors’ engagement, including dialogue with African governments. Today, major policy changes in the natural resources sector became possible of our work at the Africa Progress Panel. Key energy agenda of African institutions has come about as a result of the Panel’s work on energy and climate.
3. I notice from your online persona that you are both well read and have written and many articles and studies on the commodity sector in Africa, which is your best published piece to date that you’d like to get people to read from this blog post?
This is a very good observation. One cannot be quiet and unconcerned in the midst of the challenges and opportunities in African continent. My motivation was to contribute to discourse. What are the issues and what could be done? This explains my over 100 articles, blogs and papers on Africa’s natural resources, energy, agriculture and finance, among others. And it also explains why I share a lot of contents on social media platforms, especially LinkedIn, where I have more than 600,000 followers.
5. Commodity Monitor Limited which is a tech-based business into direct commodity trading and economic and political research with a focus clearly on Africa, the LinkedIn page has over 4,500 followers and puts out some great content, when did you start this side of your business?
The production, processing, and trading of commodities through global value chains connect actors from developed, developing, and emerging countries alike. Commodities generate huge economic gains. But they are not without challenges. Often, developing countries particularly those in Africa grapple with maximising the economic and social potential of commodities.
This is the basis for Commodity Monitor’s operations. Commodity Monitor, registered under Ghana’s company law, is into the trading, logistics and research of the commodity value chain. We’re into both soft and hard commodities. Commodity Monitor was founded in 2017 by young Ghanaians who are passionate about driving business development using commodities. Our reputation is everything. With Switzerland and Czech Republic experiences, we are bringing highly reputable commodity trading business to Ghana and the world at large.
6. Beyond the website you have also gotten into the equipment supply business to the Ghanaian miners, tell us more about that business?
As it’s widely known, mining is critical to the survival of numerous economies, particularly those in Africa. Ghana, where we have started our operations, is a case in point. Ghana is now Africa’s leading gold producer. Total direct domestic fiscal receipts attributable to the mining and quarrying sector improved from GH₵ 2.36 billion (US$411 million) in 2018 to GH₵ 4.02 billion (US$ 731 million) in 2019. These contributions have been made by small, medium and large scale mining. But where does the big problem lie? It’s the artisanal and small scale mining (ASM) sector. For many years, the ASM sector has suffered negative conceptualisation as a misnomer to mineral-driven development by diverse actors in the country. But on the flipside, ASM sector contributes close to 40% of gold output in Ghana and employs millions of people. So, at Commodity Monitor, we have started the deployment of efficient, sustainable mineral processing technology. We’ve to look at the brighter side.
Today, mining and processing activities are carried out by manual means or through application of locally improvised but inefficient equipment and tools. As a result, the activities have become synonymous to negative environmental impacts, inefficiency, lack of adherence to health and safety standards, and activities that leverage negative social impacts. The uncontrolled use and exposure to mercury by artisanal, small and medium scale miners is a major but largely neglected global health problem – putting miners and their communities at enormous health risks.
This is where we come in. The technology we are deploying will reach a majority of small, medium and large scale miners, even in the remotest mining areas. This is to ensure a triple win: environmentally-friendly mining, high productivity and enhanced livelihoods. We want to send a clear message that “leveraging green mining in Ghana’s mining sector is urgent and possible”. The current mining practice, which promotes the use of excessive mercury, has recovery rate of about 30-35%. Our technology boasts of 90% and more recovery rate. This is a big win for artisanal and small scale miners. I am very passionate about this because we have more than 1 million of the country’s youth engaged in ASM. A transformation of this ASM sector means a lot for the country’s progress.
8. The NGO’s working in Africa along side the small and alluvial mining communities are looking to put in processing hubs, places like Burkina Faso where Planet Gold are now set up, is that helpful to the local communities or is it taking something away? I’d like your impression of this arrangement.
The diversity of actors is critical in the mining sector. The idea of processing hubs has a lot of potential. But in my experience, I have come to understand that one needs to learn and appreciate the behaviour of artisanal and small scale mining. Ghana in the early 1990s had established centralized processing centers in Tarkwa in Western Ghana and Bolgatanga in Northern Ghana. They failed to work. Why? There are lessons to learn.
I believe that finance and technology must go together to make ASM work for rural communities. PlanetGold’s intervention in the ASM sector is timely and critical. At Commodity Monitor, we will use our technology to make sure it works for the miners. In Ghana, a lot of NGOs are working to manage the activities of artisanal and small scale miners. What is missing is to tackle head on the real issues: missing technological needs of miners. This is where we are looking at. Each miner deserves an improve technology that will boost his operations and shift him/her away from the use of dangerous chemicals like mercury.
9. As people who have been on the ground or know Ghana well understand the locally traded gold is efficient in pricing (discounts seen on LinkedIn are not real people wake up), what we have seen/heard that the Ghana government has put in changes to policy for exporters to prove source of funds which has been helpful to eradicate the local black-market trade that occurs between Ghana and Dubai but we hear the banks have taken advantage of that by giving wider pricing on Ghana Cedi (the local currency), what can you tell us about this and what can be done to help Ghana in their exports of gold?
To me, it’s all about the ‘implementation’ of the regulations in the gold sector. The laws in Ghana clearly captures what ought to be done in the gold trading regime. We have experienced over the past years the proliferation of scoundrels who pose as gold traders. I have witnessed investors looking thousands and millions of dollars because of bad gold trading deal. The chain is interconnected. If you trade gold, you have to be interested in gold extraction. The banks in Ghana have failed to latch on to this opportunity of buying gold from artisanal and small scale miners. They may not understand the benefits but they’re more so overly focused on risks. We need to change this.
What about using our mercury-free mineral processing technology as a way to access ‘green’ gold from artisanal and small scale miners. We’re working to roll out a plan of working with investors who will invest in machines and get a secured, known sources of clean gold. This is the chain that will provide a win-win situation. I will always maintain again that gold buyers have to be realistic! Gold miners know the international gold price. There is nothing like having a 30% discount or cheaper gold.
10. What is your position on the recent announcement that the Ghanaian government are planning to list in London the Gold royalties from the country?
For more than a century of mining, rural communities that host mining operations have not developed. They lack basic infrastructure and bear the brunt of water, forest and land destruction. Any government intervention must aim at improving the lots of the people. The government is proposing to sell almost 76 per cent of its future receipts from gold royalties. Will it be beneficial for the country and particularly the mining communities who have not seen any decent development? In my view, the focus should be on developing a strong local economy that supports value creation. We have thousands of young people into ASM. Why are they not getting a better life? It’s because they produce inefficiently. Why not boost their operations to increase their income flows? There are critical matters that need government attention and not just the focus on royalty that accrues to the state via contributions from big mining companies.
11. With more refineries popping up across West Africa do you see a need for an oversight body that would work closely to ensure the gold refined and traded in country comes with a legitimate stamp of approval?
It’s a positive thing that more refineries are coming up across West Africa. A coordination approach of these refineries will help shape the gold value chain. Today, we are all concerned about sources of gold. The refineries should come together and work along the gold chain to know the source of their gold. Would a refinery buy gold that came from a conflict-ridden region? Adding value is what we all want to create value for Africa’s gold. But we can in addition create an environment for ‘clean’, ‘greener’ gold. We need to work together to achieve this.
12. Gold smuggling in Africa is as we all know I rife, what can be done to stem the tide of bad materials coming from illegal sources?
A collaborative approach is critical to reducing or ending illegal gold sourcing. This approach must be a bottom-up driven. Africa has its Africa Mining Vision. This strategy if it was implemented by various government could create the environment for collaboration to stop gold smuggling. Countries lose a lot from smuggling. Let’s organise the miners and offer good incentives in terms of production technology and good pricing.
13. Would you think that a working committee between the DMCC and the Ghanaian Government for the exchange of gold would be something that’s achievable to help govern the industry better?
Dubai has emerged as a critical destination of commodities from the African region, particularly gold. An effective gold trading regime requires a strong working partnership between different jurisdictions, especially the source and destination of gold. Let’s not think about even forming a working committee. We have to think about forging a strong private sector participation. The private sector is at the heart of a successful collaboration between DMCC and the Ghanaian Government. I am aware of private entities that are working on a blockchain technology to drive exchange of gold. We have to get the governance parameters right.
14. Where can people find you and your business online to connect?
Golden Girl Svetoslava Stefanova aka Sunny who is the Marketing Manager and Business Development officer at Kanz Mining Ltd, a Gold mining company registered in the United Republic of Tanzania, focused on mining with collaboration of the small-scale miners in the area. Sunny has been on the ground since 2016 and have seen a lot when it comes to gold mining and gold trading in Africa.
Welcome to the Blog Q&A Sunny, can you give us a bit about your background and where you come from?
Hello Spencer, thanks for inviting me. I am originally from Bulgaria and I moved to Tanzania 4 years ago back in 2017.
When did you first arrive in Tanzania?
I came with my husband in December 2016, following a gold trading deal with the dreams of finding cheaper gold from Africa
How did you get involved in the mining business?
Once we stepped on the ground and investigated the reality, we realized that you can never find cheap gold that you can export and make good profits from a single deal. We came to know that the only cheap gold that you can get is the one that you produce yourself. We decided to invest in plants, partner with the artisanal miners in the area and improve their working model and working conditions, facilitating them with machinery, capital and knowledge and getting gold tailings from them in order to produce gold. Later on, we started to develop our own mines.
Why do you think there are a lot less women involved in mining and how can the industry do more to bring in new female talent?
Well, mining is deemed a man’s business. You live in remote areas where sometimes there isn’t any good access to normal healthcare, education, and city life. Also, Gold Mining is not just a business, it’s an industry. An industrialist needs to create an entirely new industry or head operations of an industry with a larger reach. Mining involves a lot of risk and big responsibilities that men seem to be able to handle better. However, I know amazing examples of mine and plant owners in Tanzania that are females, and they manage it very well much better than men. I think women can be great in operations, planning, the financial part, marketing, fundraising but it can be very challenging for them – especially foreign women, to live in a remote area with so many men around, it could be considered dangerous.
A woman is not suitable for artisanal mining too as this is a very high-risk job. They normally help as caretakers in the mining areas and crush stones in order to process them into tailings but I haven’t seen a female that is going down in the mining shafts. Women should not be a mining laborer, they need to get a proper education in order to get office jobs, related to mining or to open their own mines and leaching plants. You cannot even get pregnant and work during pregnancy in a mining area as a foreigner, neither you can deliver and have a baby there, there are no modern hospitals, which means that having a child will put you out of the mining site for minimum 2 years.
Tell us about the back story of Kanz Mining?
Kanz Mining Ltd was established in 2017 with the concept of working with Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners (ASM) by providing them necessary resources and technology to improve mining efficiency. Tanzanian ASM activities are regulated mainly by the Mining Acts. Mining Act allows ASM miners to obtain Primary Mining Licenses (PMLs), granted for Seven years providing the miner to mine an area of up to 10 hectares. Kanz Mining Limited ventures with this ASM and partners with them to work on the PMLs by providing capital, technology, machinery, and other necessary tools and equipment to them and obtain mined ore from the site to process for extracting Gold. In the last years we managed to construct 2 fully operational leaching plants and we are targeting further development in 2021.
What is the local gold trade like in terms of volumes and prices?
Volume of local gold trade depends on the area where you are working. Some regions give 100s of Kgs of Gold every week (only from small-scale mining) – The Gold Traders collect them from the miners and then export them outside Tanzania.
As for prices – the traders when buying from Miners get a discount of approximately 2 to 2.5% on the current gold price. Please note that even the small-scale miners have access to the Gold rates by using Internet through their smart phones and in addition to that they can get the current daily rate from Gold Markets (regulated by the government).
In terms of buying/sourcing gold locally in Tanzania
The Government has established Gold Trade markets in every mining region in Tanzania. A lot of traders are available in these markets to buy gold, so the miners simply take their gold there and sells to these traders. Each market has an office of the Ministry of Mining, which helps to calculate and pay the Royalty due to the government against each consignment of gold being traded.
Any recent developments in Tanzania you can share with us?
The government has successfully regularized the gold trade markets and now its main concentration is to develop Gold Refineries in Tanzania so they can refine the raw gold and export Pure Gold bars.
What is Kanz Mining working on now?
Kanz Mining has acquired couple of more PMLs and is working on verifying its deposits before planning the mining operation and processing of Gold Ore.
Currently we are also working on establishing one more processing plant in an area of Mwanza region. Here we have signed agreement with PML owners who are mining and digging material but don’t have big facility to process the ore, so we entered a JV with them to process their ore and share the extracted gold with them.
Is Kanz Mining looking for business partners, funding etc. at this stage?
Kanz Mining is always looking for opportunity to expand its operation and acquire and mine more PMLs so definitely there is an option to add on business partner and investors.
This week’s Blog Q&A has a very distinguished guest, please allow me to introduce Maryam Al Hashmi Director, The UAE Kimberly Process and Director of Precious Metals and Stones (Dubai Multi Commodities Centre) at DMCC (Dubai Multi Commodities Centre)
1. Dubai is well known as a gold refining hub for Africa, what plans are there to tie up with African nations such as Ghana to improve the trade flow and tighten controls of gold movements and payments?
Dubai’s strategic geographic location between gold producing and consuming nations, and its close proximity to the African continent, means we have a competitive advantage. For its part, DMCC is a world leading Free Zone established to enable and facilitate commodity trade flows through Dubai. We offer world class infrastructure and state-of-the-art facilities alongside a wide range of products and services to enable businesses to trade with confidence. We also have a robust regulatory framework in place in line with international standards, such as the OECD Guidance, to ensure the responsible sourcing, refining and trading of gold. As a result, we have successfully created one of the world’s leading physical gold markets.
The African content presents a host of opportunities across a variety of sectors – and gold is an obvious one. In fact, we already have a number of African companies registered in DMCC. We work closely with all stakeholders across the value chain to promote collaboration and partnerships and will continue to do so to highlight Dubai’s unique ecosystem for the industry.
2. Would Dubai consider better tie ups with countries like Hong Kong, Singapore & India to give the Dubai Good Delivery a push in Asia and help with transparency in trade flows?
Transparency is one of the core values at DMCC. The establishment of the Dubai Good Delivery (DGD), which created a globally accepted benchmark for the sourcing and production of gold, is testament to our commitment to transparency and traceability.
We also strongly encourage knowledge sharing and coexistence in the industry as we believe this supports confidence across the entire value chain. We already have strong ties and partnerships in the Indian and Asian markets when it comes to the gold trade and are always looking for opportunities to strengthen collaboration. Of course, we would be open to sharing best practice when it comes to setting standards to further boost trade flows.
3. Gold is accepted within Singapore exempt from tax if it meets certain criteria under The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), this essentially means LBMA approved for the most part. Why has Dubai not made a move to have Dubai DGD refineries gold accepted into Singapore duty free? Has anyone contacted Enterprise Singapore or the Singapore Bullion Market to discuss this initiative?
As DMCC, we have had some initial discussions with the Singapore Bullion Market that we will be pursuing over the course of the coming period.
4. Given there are over 10 active gold refineries in Dubai, why are there only two local refineries on the DGD list and what more can be done to add to this list?
The DGD was launched in 2005 to formally acknowledge refineries that have proven to meet a high standard of business practice, responsible sourcing, governance and quality control when refining, measuring, storing and trading gold. It is continually enhanced in collaboration with relevant international bodies, industry stakeholders and market participants and in alignment with OECD Guidelines.
As with London Bullion Market Association (LBMA)’s ‘Good Delivery List’ and ‘Global Precious Metals Code’ – and the many other standards available in the US, UK and Switzerland – DGD is voluntary in nature. Companies that qualify to appear on the DGD List receive international recognition for the integrity of their business practice.
We strongly encourage every refiner to become a member as we believe this in turn positively impacts their business and the industry as a whole. We are making good progress and are confident we will have more members on the list in the coming period.
5. Can you tell us why there has been a delay in announcing the details behind the new policy on governance, sustainability and innovation of the gold industry that was recently announced?
In October 2019, the UAE Cabinet committed to developing a policy to enhance the country’s position as a global hub for gold and jewellery trade, along with initiatives and tools to support its implementation.
The policy has three main pillars – governance, sustainability and innovation – with some strategic programmes and initiatives, also including the establishment of a federal platform for gold trading and a federal database for tracking, international marketing of the gold sector, and the use of technology in the production of gold.
A policy of this nature takes time, and the federal government will make details of the policy available in due course. The steps in implementation of the initiatives are progressing and all we can say at this time is please stay focused for the announcements coming out from our leadership in the coming months.
6. Gold flows from Africa gets refined in Dubai and ultimately ends up in Switzerland (despite their claims otherwise) which is based on the global ETF demand which is where the appetite for investors seems to be these days. With the DMCC having its own Dubai Good Delivery initiative do you see an opportunity to create a Dubai based ETF contract that is based off the Shari’ah Compliant Spot Gold contract (DGSG) that would allow for gold to remain in Dubai vaulting facilities?
There is already an ETF on the Dubai Gold & Commodities Exchange (DGCX) Shari’ah Compliant Spot Gold in Saudi Arabia.
If someone is interested in launching an ETF, we would of course provide them with all the necessary infrastructure and support. Obviously, there are few players like the Saudi based ETF who are thinking in this direction and we are providing all the support from our side, hope we will have some good news in the near future.
7. The London Fix is often referenced using the LBMA AM or PM Price (formerly known as the Fix before the banks were caught for price manipulation) to settle gold transactions. Why doesn’t Dubai create a Dubai Fix for global gold settlement (I am sure many data providers would happily carry and publish that if made available)?
As DMCC, we have focused our efforts on developing world class infrastructure, products and services to enhance the trade of gold to and through Dubai, in line with international standards. A Dubai based price determination would happen when the market requires it and as previously mentioned DMCC is an enabler of trade and we will provide the required support when the market requires it.
8. The UAE accounts for approx. 14% of the global gold trade yet is marred with bad press. Do you think that more can be done within Dubai by the DMCC in the media to ensure such stories from NGO’s get coverage of both sides of the story?
Let me start by clarifying that DMCC registers companies that wish to establish operations within its Dubai-based Free Zone only, and provides the licence required to conduct commercial activity. DMCC is not a regulator, nor is it responsible for regulating commodities trade – including gold or any other precious metal – in Dubai or the six remaining emirates of the UAE.
When it comes to the gold sector, DMCC has a robust regulatory framework that includes strict responsible sourcing rules. The rules are aligned with the OECD Guidance – the international benchmark for responsible sourcing – to ensure an inclusive and compliant, conflict-free supply chain.
In the global gold industry, DMCC is currently one of the member of the OECD’s Multi Steering Group (MSG) and continues to provide inputs for matters discussed at the OECD MSG that may impact the global implementation and policy of the OECD Guidance.
In the past, DMCC has signed agreements with various leading programs within the supply chain to bring best practice and compliance to its members. For example, DMCC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the (RJC), a global standards-setting and certification organisation for the entire jewellery supply chain, to work cooperatively on advancing the shared objectives of improving corporate social responsibility and responsible supply chain efforts in the jewellery supply chain. Over the years, we have made significant progress and will continue to work with all the stakeholders to ensure the integrity of the industry. The gold policy that the UAE government is developing will provide strong support here.
9. There are as you know zero refineries in Dubai that have been given LBMA Good Delivery status. I have heard stories told that senior LBMA Good Delivery committee members using such reasoning as “conflict in the region” to “Dirty Gold” as their justifications as to why no Good Delivery status has been given. Do you think there is too much self-protectionism within the LBMA as a self-governing organisation run by a handful of people who have self interest in the business, especially the bullion banks?
Each institution has its own processes and criteria for accreditation. What we can confirm is that DMCC Rules for Risk Based Due Diligence in the Gold and Precious Metals Supply Chain are aligned with the globally accepted OECD Guidance and other similar international standards.
10. The recent CME Group decision to list then delist Al Etihad was a poor one on their behalf according many in the industry as well as the Executive Chairman of the DMCC Ahmed Bin Sulayem on his LinkedIn profile. Many of the industry are aware of what it takes to go through such a process and a knee jerk reaction to remove them was uncalled for especially when Al Etihad Gold had done nothing wrong and a single bank and an NGO made a complaint which in one move Al Etihad have had their approval removed in 23 days of listing. Why do you think an industry can allow and trust an exchange like COMEX if a single bank and an NGO can make such a sweeping statement and get away with these claims against the whole of Dubai on a single refinery who had clearly worked hard to get that status?
We are not in a position to comment on this case as we have no information other than what was disclosed publicly.
11. A number of industry players we talk with think the World Gold Council would be a better fit for global gold governance and oversight as they see everything from the mines through to refining of end products. They have a global presence, deep pockets and over 100 staff worldwide, not a dozen people sitting in London who rely on conferences to maintain their overheads. Would the DMCC be open to a discussion around creating a new global group in conjunction with groups such as the WGC and other groups such as the SBMA where independence can be established and assist the industry instead of the current set up where you are either in the old boys club or you’re not?
As I indicated at the outset, DMCC is always open to an inclusive approach. We believe in collaboration and knowledge sharing across the industry. Over the years, we have always cooperated with stakeholders that are motivated by upholding the integrity of the global precious metals trade – and will continue to do so. Our ultimate aim is to elevate the standards of gold trade and drive meaningful value across the entire value chain. This stands to benefit all the stakeholders – miners, refiners and traders included.
Precious Metals meets FinTech – This weeks Q&A Blog post is with Mike Greenacre, Mike’s initial career was in the geophysical exploration industry, working in Africa, US, Middle East and Asia. He began his trading and brokerage career in Switzerland, with an initial focus on steel and iron ore, before moving into precious metals trading & broking. He subsequently spent more than ten years managing the global OTC metals business at ICAP. Mike ranked in the Exchange Invest top 1000 most influential people in market structure, and in the top 20 for FinTech in 2017. Mike remains active in FinTech, Digital/Crypto innovation and Sustainable precious metals production and technology.
1. Can you give us a brief introduction about yourself?
My early days and background was initially mechanical engineering that took me into the geophysical exploration space where the natural creep of technology peeked my interest. After several years “on crew” in mid east, US, Asia I ended up on settled research geophysical work in Switzerland. A bit of American football – NFL tryouts for a couple of teams and a serious non related accident I ended up broking bullion options in Zurich, but with a global client base and some more global travel – with better hotels and expenses….I moved to London with that work, taking my young family – Swedish wife and two trilingual daughters with me. I have worked independently for myself for the last 9 years, run fintech/trading/broking companies with a focus on precious metals. More recently in technology for SME sustainable gold and have helped develop a Silver nano particle sanitiser spray with durable efficacy against Covid 19 – which is getting busy.
2. You started your career in precious metals back in the mid 90’s when it was much less sexy than it is today, what was it like back then compared to now?
I started on the options desk at Premex in ZH, although a junior I had a bit of life under my belt and some unusual life experiences to share with clients. There were just two broking companies in the space, brokerage rates were high, spreads wide and poorly marked, it was fairly simple to get trades away. I actually think there was a bit more mystique about the market, gold was low, poor derivatives, over hedging, Swiss gold scandal and the BoE pathetic sale had put gold on a low ebb. But from there, the end of Gordon Browns & Ed Balls ill-conceived sales programme which drove gold to $255 it’s been on the up and up.
3. GFI & ICAP are known as a Global Brokers of OTC markets, how did GFI and ICAP cover the precious metals markets back then so we can better understand how the markets operated in that space?
Both GFI and ICAP were and are regionally siloed companies, the gold business was replicated most of the bullion banks where we had a global footprint. It wasn’t unusual for a client interest to originate in Asia and be passed to the London then US desks following the trading day. When I started at GFI we had London, NY & Sydney and when we got ICAP going the same thing, but Sydney died off as a centre – reduced mine hedging and bank and mine mergers. That was replaced by Singapore and HK as the focus of the Asian markets, China stepping up in the metals space.
4. You moved on from the broking world with a more entrepreneurial spirit, I had first come across you back when the announcement around the RFQ for the LBMA where Autilla Ltd was one of 8 shortlisted for the project, what can you tell us where you with this project?
I started Autilla in 2013. The idea was to build an independent platform for the banks to transact OTC bullion business. The whole world is moving to tech, the bullion market still resists the trend. The issues that the market faced were too attractive for us at Autilla to not get involved in. The metal fixings were the first RFP for us, we were the only company to demonstrate working technology during the RFP processes. We got a bit dumped on by the LME, but stayed in the game. Second RFP was the LBMAi – which we won. Third was the metal custody / origin / provenance RFP. The LBMA opened a discussion they couldn’t handle, manage or settle. The market suffers now – the Swiss refiners are buying 900 tons a year of gold from a country with no gold mines and KYC/AML reputation you wouldn’t hold up as world leading. It’s an issue that threatens the terminal market for bullion globally. We yet again demonstrated a working fully functional Mine to client, origin – provenance – identification chain of custody solution that worked on blockchain and would be relatively simple to integrate to current operations. We had a lot of input and support from miners, couriers, vaulters, refiners and interestingly the non-vaulting banks. The LBMA decided on an RFP that to my mind killed on the enterprise in the market that we and one or two others had started. It’s still undecided – if you wanted to intentionally kill the initiative you couldn’t have done a better job. Get some people to opine on tech they don’t understand.
5. There are a number of products out there in the market making bold claims of blockchain providing provenance, where do you think a number of them fall down from your perspective?
Non of them go back far enough in the supply chain, they either take the mine or refiners production at face value. To my mind that’s where the issues are most likely to occur. Bar identification is an obsession to “allow the re-entry of bars into the LBMA network” – simplify the process – treat all external metal as scrap and have increased due diligence at refineries to allow it to re enter the market. Other than localised VAT scams the issue is seldom the metal, its the funds/assets that were swapped one way or another for it. It looks like we’ll end up with some disparate tech solutions to various parts of the supply chain. People obsess about 50 cents here or there, when the terminal market collapses because the vaulting banks withdraw because there is no certainty of metal provenance in their vault the 50 cents for a solution would be a dream.
6. For the Blockchain you have in mind is that something you’d like to explore in the near future with any groups looking to better develop that side of the gold market?
Things have rapidly developed in the blockchain space, that’s if you need a blockchain. But, the tech is there, the methods to implement it is there. To combine with an overhaul of the London good delivery and create a cleared OTC correctly governed and administered market place would be the way forward, that’s if the market values gold as anything more than a jewellery and a correlated punt. How intrinsic is gold and is it needed in a modern digital adopting world. I would relish the chance to have input to a well supported and conceived project.
7. Whilst you have been developing more Fin Tech products of late via DigitalRFQ your roots are still firmly in the precious metals game, what can you tell us about your south American projects?
I have been working with a team on helping improve South American gold provenance and sustainability. We have technology to increase the gold yield with the use of nano particles in the leeching process that significantly increase yields in refectory ores. Also we look at bio solutions to cyanide contamination and treatment of tailing ponds. We were making good progress until the pandemic really hit the mining sector.
I think provenance is the answer, technology that allows them to directly demonstrate their production on a known platform and for them to compete for fair pricing. This takes them out of the local cash aggregator space, allows them to bank correctly, pay local tax and assist the local economy and environment. The LBMA should be driving this. The World Gold Council is also not doing a job on this either, it could be argued that its more their space to help the small-scale miners.
This is not a technology issue, it’s administration!
9. Lately you have been focused on a new product silver liquid called Nano Ag47, what can you tell us about that?
Nano-Ag47 is derived from the gold mine yield increasing nano particle technology we developed. We knew at the start of the pandemic that silver nano particles were particularly effective against pathogens, Viruses, bacteria and fungi. Cost and accuracy of production has been an issue. We have developed a method to produce them accurately below 40nm which is the optimal size to sanitise and inhibit viruses including Covid 19. We have a surfactant fluid that contains the suspended nano particles and can be sprayed or fogged onto surfaces, contact points and products. The product uniquely remains effective for a minimum of 72 hours from application. We have tested to EU/UK standards and we are launching the product globally. Part of the whole keeping your hands clean is protecting the surfaces we touch.
10. For anyone that wants to follow you or connect for business opportunities where can they find you online?