Modern Mining: Featured News

Although the upcoming Mining Indaba in Cape Town will take place at a time when the prospects for the African mining industry look mixed at best, the organisers are confident that it will cement its position as one of the biggest mining investment events in the world. A particular highlight will be the new Junior Mining Showcase, which will bring together around 45 emerging mining companies from across Africa, as well as the Investment Battlefield, which will see juniors pitching their projects over the three days of the event.

The Investment Battlefield attracted a good audience at last year's Mining Indaba.

 When the Mining Indaba was first held half back in the 1990s, its immediate – and huge – success was due to the fact that it brought together junior miners and explorers active in Africa with members of the investment community. Over the years, this emphasis on the junior miner sector slipped somewhat, with the Mining Indaba increasingly becoming a platform for the mining majors to present their standard corporate presentations and with the exhibition area increasingly seeing an influx of service providers and equipment suppliers to the mining industry.

Now the organisers are making a conscious attempt to revive the original character of the show. Says Alex Grose, Mining Indaba MD: “We initiated a series of changes to the 2017 event to bring Mining Indaba back to its roots, and to meet the changing needs of the mining industry. For 2018, we’ll be further enhancing networking and deal-making platforms.”

The Investment Battlefield was launched at the 2017 show and proved extremely popular. The format this year will be similar to last year, with 24 companies due to present their projects for five minutes each, with 10 minutes of live feedback from an expert panel of judges. The proceedings will be structured around commodity focused categories, namely precious metals, bulk and base metals, battery minerals and energy minerals, with three companies pitching in each category. The final winner and runner-up will be chosen on the main stage on the Wednesday (7 Feb) of the Mining Indaba.

The ‘hot’ topic of battery metals and minerals will not only feature in the Investment Battlefield but will also be the subject of a panel discussion entitled ‘Battery Metals: How can Africa position itself to take advantage of the EV revolution’.

Moving beyond the juniors, many of the leading mining companies will, of course, be presenting at the event and, in most cases, will be represented by their CEOs or COOs. For example, and to take a few names at random, Bold Bataar of Rio Tinto, Mike Fraser of South32, Paul Rollinson of Kinross, Deshnee Naidoo of Vedanta Zinc, Niël Pretorius of DRDGOLD, Neal Froneman of Sibanye-Stillwater and Chris Griffith of Anglo American Platinum will all be speaking at the Mining Indaba.

Also worth watching out for will be a copper versus gold debate – tackling the issue of which is the better investment case – between two of the mining industry’s most compelling speakers, Mark Bristow of Randgold Resources and Robert Friedland of Ivanhoe Mines. Bristow, of course, will be fighting gold’s corner while Friedland will be promoting copper. Randgold has emerged over the past 20 years as one of Africa’s most dynamic gold-mining companies while Ivanhoe has three flagship projects in Africa, including the Kamoa-Kakula copper project near Kolwezi in the DRC’s Lualaba Province, which reportedly ranks as the biggest-ever copper discovery in Africa.

Platinum will come under the spotlight in a panel discussion entitled ‘Investing in Platinum: Opportunities for investors’. It will be moderated by Paul Wilson, CEO of the World Platinum Investment Council, while speakers will include several of the industry’s heavy hitters, notably Chris Griffiths, Neal Froneman, Steve Phiri (CEO of Royal Bafokeng Platinum) and Nico Muller (CEO of Impala).

While the African mining industry has not really thrived over the past year, an exception is the West African region, particularly Mali and Burkina Faso, where gold mining has been booming. Mali has seen two new mines, B2Gold’s Fekola and Hummingbird’s Yanfolila, come on stream in the past few months while, in Burkina Faso, Endeavour recently commissioned its highly successful Houndé project. In Côte d’Ivoire, Perseus is about to start production at Sissingué.

Gold projects either in construction or at a very advanced stage of development in the West African region include Mako in Senegal, being developed by Toro Gold, Boungo in Burkina Faso (SEMAFO), the Ity CIL project in Côte d’Ivoire (Endeavour), the Yaouré project, also in Côte d’Ivoire (Perseus), and Wahgnion (previously Banfora) in Burkina Faso (Teranga Gold).

Representatives of most of the West African gold players mentioned above will be participating in the Indaba, among them B2Gold’s CEO, Clive Johnson, Dan Betts, CEO of Hummingbird, Jeff Quartermaine, MD and CEO of Perseus, and Sébastien de Montessus, CEO of Endeavour.

The theme of this year’s event is ‘Providing the foundation for sustainable junior and major mining growth in Africa’ and will set the stage for mining companies, investors, governments and media to make valuable connections, learn from experts and gain industry insight.

A mainstage highlight includes Olusegun Oba­sanjo, the former President of Nigeria and Chairman of the Brenthurst Foundation, who will deliver a keynote address entitled ‘Partnership: A New Narrative for Africa’s Mining Industry’.

More discussions will take place at the Sustainable Development Day on Tuesday, 6 February where Jeff Radebe (Minister, Presidency, Government of South Africa) and Mxolisi Mgojo (CEO of Exxaro and President of the Chamber of Mines of South Africa) will be debating the role of social trust in mining.

“Following accepting a memorandum from the Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) at the 2017 event, for the first time ever, Mining Indaba is working with community and civil society groups to define a common vision for sustainable development in African mining,” says Grose.

Another first for Mining Indaba is the Mining 2050 Innovation programme, which places a focus on where companies should be investing in the age of disruption. Industry leaders such as Michelle Ash (Chief Innovation Officer, Barrick) and Donovan Waller (Group Head of Technology, Anglo American) will discuss the latest disruptive technology and innovation strategies.

With political risk being a major consideration for anyone proposing to mine in Africa, a keynote speech which should be of huge interest will be given by Lord Malloch-Brown, a former UK Government Minister and a former Deputy Secretary General of the UN (and a noted proponent of Britain remaining in the EU). Among other things, he is an adviser to the Eurasia Group, said to be the world’s largest political risk consultancy.

Finally, and staying with the subject of political risk, South Africa’s beleaguered Minister of Mines, Mosebenzi Zwane, is due to give the welcoming address at the Indaba and his words will be carefully scrutinised not only by the local industry but by the international investment community to see if there is any likelihood that he will reverse his stance on the proposed – and highly controversial – revision of the Mining Charter. By the end of the Indaba, it should be clearer as to whether some accommodation is possible or whether the present state of ‘open warfare’ between the Minister and the Chamber of Mines is likely to continue – to the detriment of both the industry and the country.

Contact Modern Mining

Title: Editor
Name: Arthur Tassell
Email: mining@crown.co.za
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

Title: Advertising Manager
Name: Bennie Venter
Email: benniev@crown.co.za
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

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