Mining companies should put communities first

2019-03-01T12:20:14+00:00 February 7th, 2019|Events, News|
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Community development, social and environmental issues, gender equality and transformation dominated the agenda at this year’s Investing in African Mining Indaba, held in Cape Town, South Africa from the 4th to the 7th of February 2019, writes Leon Louw. 

Although mining will continue to drive the future economic growth of Africa, it will have to do so in partnership with local communities and by transforming the workforce, with strong emphasis on female representation. This was the message most speakers at the Indaba brought to delegates representing the mining industry from across the globe. It was the 25th year that the annual event was held in Cape Town, and judging by the turnout, pundits are slightly more optimistic about what 2019 has in store for mining.

Image credit: Mining Indaba 2019

Image credit: Mining Indaba 2019

According to Cyril Ramaphosa, president of South Africa, who addressed delegates on Wednesday afternoon, mining is a sunrise industry, and not, as many detractors would like to believe, a sunset industry. Ramaphosa emphasised the importance of mining, but at the same time warned that its growth should be inclusive and benefit the countries and local communities in the area of operation.

Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, who preceded Ramaphosa, pledged government support for mining companies and referred to the recent re-opening of AngloGold Ashanti’s Obuasi mine as a good example of what can be achieved if there is a common goal. Ghana’s government had to intervene at Obuasi when artisanal miners took control of operations a few years ago, which resulted in environmental degradation and pollution.

As more junior mining companies target Africa, the message at Indaba was loud and clear: please come, but operate in a responsible and transparent way, and to the benefit, and not the detriment of communities and the environment, or face the consequences.