Are you interested in the coming trends in mining investment? One place to see what’s coming is the African Mining Indaba, one of the world’s largest mining investment conferences. The upbeat mood of Indaba was an indication that, while the activity level in Africa isn’t hitting Australian levels, the signs are positive. The speakers and attendees of the conference embraced the message of optimism, a good sign for capitalisation and development of mining in Africa,
Three key themes emerged at the 2020 event held in Cape Town, South Africa, over four days in February.
- The rise of the junior miner
- The growing importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
- The use and impact of greater levels of technology.
Mining investment battlefield
The status of junior miners and their roles as project generators is growing. Following a successful pilot last year, the juniors (both early-stage and advanced exploration companies) are featured in their own section of the Indaba, Investment Battlefield. This involved a series of 5-minute ‘pitches’ to a high-calibre selection panel. The sessions were run over four rounds on the first two days, with the semi-finals and the final on the third day. Entrants came from the Battery Minerals, Precious Metals, and Base Metals sectors. There was also a group focused on bulk commodities. The winner was Tietto Minerals, who are developing a gold project in Cote D’Ivoire. This company is ASX-listed and is based in Perth.
© Mining Indaba
CSR has arrived in African mining
CSR was a welcome topic at the Indaba. In this context, CSR comprises environment, sustainability and governance, a longstanding concern in Australian mining. It is now fully embedded and better understood within the African mining sector. The challenges are different between the two regions, but the importance is just as high. Sharing an understanding of what the key issues are was a highlight of this Indaba.
Technology impacts workforce and community
Technology was also a focus, particularly around its importance for improving safety, costs and productivity, a continuing concern for anyone in mining. Its impact of change on workforce, training and development, and education in local communities was a hot topic of discussion and debate.
The majors out in force
The importance of Africa to the mining industry can also be judged by the representation of senior executives presenting or attending. The opening address was given by Anglo American Chief Executive Mark Cutifani, who discussed a range of their ESG initiatives across the Group. This included an exciting announcement about bringing artisanal miners into the commercial process for diamond production. As a mark of Anglo’s commitment to CSR, they are paying the miners fair value for product in return for responsible mining practices. This is a radical shift from past approaches and the Indaba received the plan with interest. Also present were representatives from Rio Tinto, South32, Newmont Goldcorp and AngloGold Ashanti.
The future of mining
Other key speakers were Srinivasan Venkatkrishnan, Chief Executive of Vedanta Resources, and Deshnee Naidoo, CEO of Vedanta Zinc International. Vedanta was a key sponsor of the Mining 2050 component of the programme, focused on the use of technology, big data, artificial intelligence (AI), machine automation, and the shifting needs of workforces. Several other Vedanta executives were involved in these panels as well.
Notable also were not just the elaborate company displays but also the country displays, particularly Saudi Arabia and Angola, and many more focusing on the fact they are very much open for business and looking to attract investment.
A focus on sustainable mining practices
The sessions focusing on technology, climate, sustainability and automation were notable for their more holistic approaches to the industry. Mining companies are looking at mining operations not just in a short-term way but as vehicles for delivering enduring benefits for local communities.
© Mining Indaba
Expert panel discussions
Lastly, the session called Preparation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution showed strong contributions addressing the impacts of technology on employees and communities. The session was chaired by Sabine Dall’Omo, CEO of Siemens in South Africa, with a multi-national panel including:
- John Welborn, MD, Resolute Mining
- Deshnee Naidoo, CEO, Vedanta Zinc International
- Anik Nichaud, Group Director, Anglo American
- Nombasa Tsengwa, Executive Head of Coal, Exxaro.
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Gerard Daniels is committed to supporting the entire mining value chain through the appointment of quality individuals into roles at Board level, C-Suite and in key technical, operational and functional leadership roles. We work with the world’s leading and emerging mineral producers, explorers, contractors and service providers. Attending events like Africa Mining Indaba is one way we ensure the advice and guidance we provide to our clients helps them keep ahead of growing trends.