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The Mining Indaba 2019: A look ahead

The 25th anniversary of the Mining Indaba took place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from February 4-7 2019. The event is described as the largest investment gathering in the country, employing debate and expert opinion to shape the mining future of Africa. The attendees and sponsors were the who’s who of the mining realm and the keynote speaker was none other than Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa. Once again, the Mining Indaba — the largest mining conference in the world — had record attendance and impressive footfall throughout the event.

Since 1994, the Mining Indaba has upheld the goal of connecting investors and mining companies in a forum that allows for meaningful growth and development. The event has long since overtaken its original intent; it extends far beyond just meetings and has become a powerful platform for funding, networking, discussions, brokering deals and more.

At the 2019 event, there were creative platforms such as the Investment Pavilion and Investment Battlefield, designed to boost junior miners’ profiles among investors. The Junior Mining Forum provided fresh entrants to the industry with a space in which to learn new skills and gain useful tips on how to solicit and obtain funding. The dedicated Investor Relations Service gave attendees access to a large group of investors without them having to schedule meetings in advance.

At the Investment Battlefield, junior miners were given the opportunity to pitch their projects to groups of high-profile investors, going head-to-head against some of the most impressive emerging mining projects in Africa. They got to learn what investors wanted, how to increase their appeal, and received instant live feedback on their pitches. Some of the judges of the competition included Neil Gregson, portfolio manager at JP Morgan Asset Management; Aline Carnizelo, investment director at Pala Investment; Charl Malan, portfolio manager at VanEck; and Ursula Maritz, chief investment officer at Southern Charter.

The winner of the event received a significant prize package that included a free exhibition stand and a speaking slot at Mining Indaba 2020, access to the Investor Relations Service at Mining Indaba 2020, and three nights free accommodation for a member of the team at the 2020 conference, among others.

The 2019 winner was Prospect Resources, which won for its lithium project in Zimbabwe. It was chosen as the most promising out of the 22 companies that took part in the battle, with Orion Minerals taking second place for their Prieska Zinc Copper Project in the Northern Cape. Both companies walked away with super prizes and plenty of investor insight and support.

The 25th anniversary event also saw the Mining Indaba launch the new Investment Pavilion, a combination of the Junior Mining Showcase and the VIP Investor Lounge. As a dedicated deal-making space, it allowed for attendees to connect in a more intimate setting, with hybrid booths provided for meetings and excellent visibility of the exhibition floor.

On the technology and networking front, the indaba included some impressive tools and services to make attendee life that little bit easier. A business matchmaking portal, a personalised investor relations service, and a buy-side round table discussion all added value.

Alongside investment, the event catered for exclusive discussions with the industry’s key stakeholders. Here some of the wider issues impacting the sector tackled included resource nationalism, sustainability, skills shortages and digitalisation. Each and every aspect of the event reinforced the fact that it is designed to be the leading deal-making forum in the mining industry. In just four days, attendees could attend as many meetings as they usually would in a month, using the platform to build relationships with high-profile investors, engage with African governments on their mining policies, gain funding, and boost their profiles among industry heavyweights.

The Mining Indaba 2019 also showcased the hottest emerging projects in Africa and included commentary from high-profile investors, nongovernmental organisations, heads of state, community representatives, mining chief executives, African mining ministers, faith leaders, EV manufacturers, digital innovators and experts in sustainability. Some of the biggest sponsors were Caterpillar, Rio Tinto, Sasol, BCG, Orica, AECI and Anglo American.

The key discussion topics in 2019’s presentations hit the trends and issues in the industry neatly on the head. There was insight into collaboration between government, mining companies, investors and communities — with a focus on South Africa — and a look to how to manage resource nationalism, driving change, gender diversity, sustainable development, financial security and sector growth. Speakers that really stood out at the event were Nana Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana; Chery Carolus, the chairperson of Gold Fields, Carole Cable from Brunswick, and Tom Albanese, director of Nevada Copper

Ramaphosa’s speech was defined as “stirring” and “powerful” by those who heard it. He addressed some of the most controversial issues facing the country head on: land expropriation without compensation, attracting investment and stimulating economic growth. His presentation was one of the best attended, with a spill over venue provided for those who couldn’t find a seat in the main auditorium. It was also one that had a hint of prescience, as he said: “Eskom’s contribution to the health of our economy is too great for it to be allowed to fail. It is too important and it is too big to fail. And we will not allow it to fail. Restoring and securing energy security for the country is an absolute imperative.”

Unfortunately, the subsequent weeks have seen Eskom do just that — fail — and cause widespread concern over the stability of the government-owned power provider and its future.While the capabilities of Eskom may remain questionable, the success of the Mining Indaba 2019 is not. The 25th anniversary year has left a memorable mark.

Unearthed

The Mining Indaba 2019 has just hosted its 25th annual event in Cape Town. Running from February 4-7 2019, the event has seen a 12% year-on-year increase in attendance, with a record 6 000 people filling the Cape Town halls this year.As the largest event of its kind in the world, the indaba is a useful melting pot of opinion, analysis and trends for the mining industry, featuring impressive keynote speakers, visiting dignitaries, networking experiences for young entrepreneurs and investment opportunities for high-end investors. With a list of guest speakers that included the President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo and the President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa, the topics were weighty and the insights relevant.

The keynote address delivered by Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe focused on the concerns that face the sector around mining policy and frameworks in South Africa. He took pains to reassure the industry that the government was addressing the challenges of administered prices, and that his department was also looking into the problems that exist around the double-granting of licenses and the backlogs in issuing licenses. He paid attention to the concerns around bottlenecks in government and how these were impacting on the industry. And, perhaps most importantly, he focused on the health and safety issues that continue to plague the industry, emphasising the urgent need for long-term solutions.

In addition to the ongoing need for creative and sustainable solutions to health and safety, one of the key themes to emerge from the event was the need for exploration. Its importance was emphasised across speaker, expert and forum. At the event, De Beers revealed that it would be investing R30-million into diamond exploration across Africa. Ramaphosa asked Mantashe why exploration had tapered off and spoke about how this has become a priority going forward. The emphasis throughout was on how the mining sector in South Africa is not one hobbling towards its sunset years, but is rather filled with youthful vigour and enthusiasm.

This sentiment was echoed across most of the keynote presentations from African leaders and industry experts. The Indaba had serious attendance from African ministers. The South African list included Minister in the Presidency for Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe and Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies. From international shores the mining ministers included Ghana’s Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, Samuel Urkato from Ethiopia, Aggrey Masi from Malawi, Keketso Sello from Lesotho, and Angola’s Diamantino Pedro Azevedo, among others.

Mining Indaba 2019 (and its predecessors) didn’t just paint pictures of perfection. The sector faces considerable uphill challenges, not least the failure of state-owned Eskom. Already there is plenty of outcry around the failing lights across the country over the past few weeks, which impacts heavily on investor confidence and economic outlook. Ramaphosa has promised Eskom reforms, outlining a plan that could potentially lift the endangered utility out of its existing crisis. There has been significant opposition, but it seems that government is on track to find a way out of the crisis as efficiently and sustainably as possible.

Nana Akufo-Addo’s speech carried a similar message to that of Ramaphosa, one that recognises how Africa has access to significant mineral wealth and it is critical that government and industry work together to harness its potential. Everyone has to come together so all can benefit from what mining has to offer. His speech also reinforced the sense that African countries are starting to work together more effectively to eliminate the roadblocks to success and to put Africa back on the map as a competitive forice.

Mantashe’s appointment has injected some hope and positivity into the sector. Many feel that having a minister with a background in mining shows government’s commitment to the sector’s growth and to managing the issues that currently impact on its growth. There is also a sense of positivity around the fresh blood that’s entering the industry, bringing with them innovation and determination.

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Tamsin Oxford
Tamsin Oxford
I am a professional editor, journalist, blogger, wordsmith, social junkie and writer with over 19 years of experience in both magazine publishing and Public Relations.

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