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Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019

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Despite the challenges presented by the covid-19 pandemic in forecasting silver market conditions over the rest of the year, extended physical demand could drive the metal’s price higher in 2020, the Silver Institute suggested in their annual World Silver Survey.

Last year, global silver demand edged 0.4% higher despite an ongoing global trade war affecting many industries, while silver mine supply declined for the fourth consecutive year, falling by 1.3%.

Money-managers’ net positions in Comex futures went from being short over much of 2018 to consistently positive in the second half of 2019

Favorable structural changes such as vehicle electrification and a rebound in the key field of photovoltaics fueled solid industrial demand, the Institute wrote.

Silver investment demand jumped 12% — the highest annual growth since 2015 — as retail and institutional investors focused their attention on the long-term investment appeal of the metal. Exchange-traded product (ETP) holdings stood at 728.9 Moz at year-end, up by 13%, achieving the largest annual rise since 2010.

Money-managers’ net positions in Comex futures went from being short over much of 2018 to consistently positive in the second half of 2019. Coins and medals saw a 13% increase in demand over 2018, rising to 97.9 Moz, while bar demand remained solid at 88.2 Moz, the report showed.

The Institute said these were key drivers for the 15% intra-year rise in silver price to a three-year high of $19.65 last September. The 2019 yearly average silver price was $16.21, about 3% higher than the 2018 average price.

Although many key areas of silver demand — including industrial fabrication and jewelry and silverware offtake — are anticipated to fall solely as a result of the global pandemic, the Institute still expects silver physical investment to extend its gains this year, with a projected 16% rise to a five-year high as investors rotate out of equities in search of safe haven vehicles.

Mine supply is also expected to continue its decline, given the temporary shutdown of mining operations in several significant silver mining countries in early 2020.

As a result, silver price will likely rise this year and test the $19/oz threshold again before year-end, said Metals Focus, the research firm behind the Silver Institute report.

The firm also expects silver to benefit from bargain hunting and outperform gold later this year on the back of its historically low relative value.

Source: – MINING.com

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Digital Technologies have a strong return on investment, survey says – JWN

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Canada’s oil and gas industry says investing in digital oilfield technologies can generate a strong return on investment even in today’s difficult market, according to a survey of industry professionals conducted as part of the Daily Oil Bulletin’s 2020 Digital Oilfield Outlook Report.

The survey asked respondents to evaluate 11 key digital applications along three dimensions: return on investment, technology maturity, and the readiness for their organizations to adopt the technology. The applications represent how organizations use technology to deliver value.

At a time when many companies are in survival mode
as they attempt to hang on until the pandemic-inspired collapse in demand for their products abates, return on investment takes on particular significance.

Evaporating cash flows have left many companies in no condition to make any investments, let alone those that don’t virtually guarantee positive short-term returns. Many survey respondents said the sense of risk-taking on new technologies – with the attitude they could fail fast and move on – has withered.

However, there was widespread recognition and consensus across industry groups (producers, midstream, OFS) and levels (CEO to analyst) that digital technologies in general have high return on investment with all 11 technology use cases believed to represent a return on investment compared to or higher than other uses of capital in the organization. This bodes well for digital oilfield technologies vying against other investment opportunities in difficult times – an indication they will pay for themselves more quickly than other forms of investment.

The use cases felt to deliver the greatest return on investment – Production Asset Optimization, Automated Production Asset Operations and Predictive Maintenance – play into that narrative for their ability to reliably cut costs and deliver efficiencies. As quickly maturing technologies, they can be delivered for relatively affordable investment with low risk.

Also of note was that Fleet Management, Remote Asset Monitoring and Field Productivity are amongst the most mature and best known, and have return on investment that is closest to other comparable uses of capital. They may have already produced considerable gains in recent years and be perceived to have reached a level of saturation that is more difficult to improve on. Conversely, Biometric Monitoring, at the bottom of the list, maybe seen as one of the least mature use cases from an industrial perspective and therefore considered a high investment risk in difficult times.

Attitudes toward the return on investment have shifted in the five years since the Daily Oil Bulletin’s first survey was conducted. In comparison to the results of the 2015 survey (in which some applications were not polled), there is much more confidence in return on investment from optimizing field workforces, with “remote” applications having seen the biggest jump in perceived return on investment. Of the eight comparable use cases, those that climbed the most in rank over the past five years were Remote Asset Operations, Remote Asset Inspection and Remote Asset Monitoring.

While it is a sign of shrinking workforces in the midst of a major downturn in the industry, it could also be an early indication of more to come as companies are forced to deal with the secondary crisis of the pandemic and the physical distancing that entails for employees. Indeed, “remote” has become a watchword in all sectors of the economy as workers have been forced to adjust to the new COVID-19 reality. The ability to remotely operate, inspect and monitor assets simplifies the physical distancing aspect of these activities even as it trims costs.

For more information, the Daily Oil Bulletin’s 2020 Digital Oilfield Outlook Report, sponsored by Amazon Web Services and Rackspace Technology, is available for download here.

Note: In terms of ROI, a score of three represents a return on investment comparable to other uses of capital, four is higher than other uses of capital, and five is much higher.

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India Stymies Investment From Hong Kong Amid China Border Row – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — India is subjecting foreign investment proposals from Hong Kong at par with China as part of a new policy that makes approval mandatory for plans from countries that share a land border, a person with the knowledge of the matter said.

Nearly 140 investment proposals valued at over $1.75 billion, mostly from China and Hong Kong — China’s special administrative region — have been put on hold pending scrutiny, the person said asking not to be identified citing rules on speaking to the media.

Amid a border stand off with China, the Indian government tightened rules for foreign direct investment from all nations sharing a land border, making scrutiny mandatory for such investments — a restriction that was earlier applicable only to Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The delays may complicate deal-making and impact the flow of capital from private equity firms and hedge funds, which often include investors domiciled in China or Hong Kong. This may starve Indian companies of investment in the midst of the pandemic-induced economic contraction.

The curbs also apply when the beneficial owner of the proposed investment is situated in any of India’s neighbors. A government panel constituted to approve these proposals is yet to decide on the rules including on beneficial ownership.

The trade and industry ministry spokesman didn’t immediately answer a call made to his mobile phone.

READ MORE: China Gained Ground on India During Bloody Summer in Himalayas

Tensions between the two giant Asian economies have been escalating since May. Twenty Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese troops were killed in clashes along the Himalayan frontier earlier this year.

The military crisis is the worst since the two sides fought a war in 1962. India responded by banning Chinese apps, tightening visa rules for Chinese nationals and imposing curbs on companies from nations sharing a land border from bidding for government contracts.

Earlier last month, Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar had told Bloomberg News that trade with China can’t carry on in business-as-usual mode as long as there are unresolved issues along the border — a disputed 3,488-kilometer (2,167-mile) stretch known as the Line of Actual Control.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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Billionaire Bezos Backs Start-Up in Maiden Africa Investment – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — Jeff Bezos agreed to back Africa-focused financial technology company, Chipper Cash, making it his first start-up investment on the continent.

The world’s richest man’s personal venture capital fund, Bezos Expeditions, supported the Series B funding led by Ribbit Capital, which raised $30 million for the San Fransisco-based company.

“Jeff Bezo’s backing of Chipper Cash will widen the company’s product suite through inclusion of more business payment solutions, crypto-currency trading options, and investment services,” the company said in an emailed statement.

Chipper Cash enables instant cross-border mobile money transfers in Africa and abroad and will use the funds for expansion into countries it will announce in 2021. The company has 3 million users on its platform across Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Nigeria and South Africa, and processes an average of 80,000 transactions daily, according to the statement.

“We are responding to the demand from customers on our P2P platform who also have business enterprises,” Chipper Cash Chief Executive Officer Ham Serunjogi said in the statement.

Read more: Visa Partners With Payments Startup Chipper in African Expansion

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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