Gerard Daniels recently returned to Cape Town’s Investing in African Mining Indaba (Mining Indaba) event to attend, present, host, and reconnect with members of the local and international mining community. Following on from previous COVID disruptions, 2023 attracted a record attendance of over 6500 delegates.
Michael McAnearney (Gerard Daniels Director and Co-Founder) and Paul Howard (Partner) attended on behalf of the Firm, and took the opportunity to report back on their experiences, observations and outlook. For both Michael and Paul, Mining Indaba (2023) was a positive, optimistic and high energy event, with a buoyant sentiment that matched the market outlook. “This is mining’s time in the sun,” says Paul.
“Mining Indaba always attracts a strong contingent of investors and leaders across international mining and METS organisations. This year was no different, with key leaders of major, international mining houses in attendance, presenting and sharing their insights,” says Paul. “The events we attended touched on diversity, transparency, decarbonisation, digitisation and technology. There was also a focus on the hydrogen economy, and electrifying mining vehicles in Africa.”
Here are some highlights and insights from four particularly prominent event themes.
Diversity equity and inclusion (DEI)
Through Austrade, Gerard Daniels had the opportunity to sponsor a Women In Mining luncheon, alongside contributors such as Natascha Viljoen, CEO for Anglo American Platinum. Aptly named ‘Champions of Change’, this event was deeply inspiring and offered insight into the current diversity climate in this sector.
“This was a great event to be a part of,” says Paul. “On speaking with some of the younger, female delegates, I know that many of them came away feeling uplifted by the journeys and challenges that these and other senior female leaders had faced and overcome.”
“In terms of DEI progress, it’s clear that momentum is building and events like these are important for helping women to reach higher, and do good things with their careers,” he continues. “Some examples of tangible change within industry emerged from the event too, with one leading gold producer aiming for gender parity at its new mine site in Ghana – an ambitious target, but still great to see.”
Another recurring diversity discussion centred on making mining an industry of choice for women. “One female guest speaker explained that most of the women that she connects with in mining, have fallen into the industry by accident, rather than by design,” says Paul. “This highlights the need for more to be done upstream to encourage young women to make mining a career choice.”
To attract future talent, this issue also challenges mining organisations to deliver on the cultural, ESG, diversity and other expectations of future generations. Large improvements in workplace design and culture are also needed.
Transparency and disclosure was another hot topic, with major players keen to demonstrate their commitment and cultural transformation around this issue. “Customers, investors, employees and other stakeholders now demand transparency, so it’s no longer enough just to issue your annual financial report,” he continues. “For the social licence to operate, mining organisations must move beyond communicating how they are performing financially, to how well they are doing socially, environmentally, and in terms of safety performance and culture too.”
“Some mining businesses do have a bit of chequered history operating in Africa, but the more important message here is that change is happening,” says Paul. “Newmont in particular is proud of its record as a highly transparent organisation. Rio Tinto also recently published a revealing workplace culture report that reinforces this new era of openness, because you can’t fix what you don’t know or won’t admit is broken.”
The energy transition
Many of the presentations confirmed that now is a great time to be supporting sustainable mining, and to be backing, or at least on board, with the green energy transition.
“The sustainability agenda is now absolutely mainstream, and a lot of the mining companies are now regularly putting out their sustainability reports,” says Paul. “Africa’s mining sector is also energised by the fact that the world is going through the green energy transition. Critical minerals are a big part of the supply chain going into this, and as Africa is well endowed in those areas, it is well placed to be part of that journey.”
Building local communities and workforces
In the wake of COVID’s widespread disruption to remote mining operations, Paul senses a growing awareness around the need to develop local workforces and local leadership talent pipelines.
“It’s no longer sustainable to rely too much on just a FIFO workforce,” says Paul. “This type of workforce can be expensive, and when borders shut this model can significantly impact operations. The learning from COVID is that we need to develop local workforces and local talent to lead these organisations.”
“To build local workforce and support local communities, the mining sector must look beyond simply filling jobs, to fostering the continent’s future leaders through leadership and development programs,” says Paul. “Mining can’t achieve this change, without a pipeline of talent to feed it.”
Keen to continue the conversation?
To find exceptional future talent, nurture talent pipelines or discuss talent strategies for your mining organisation, connect with Paul or contact your local Gerard Daniels team.