The Investing in African Mining Indaba gets underway in Cape Town, South Africa, today. The event attracts ministers, government officials, business leaders and a range of other interested parties from across Africa and the globe.
Indaba is about mining in Africa. The economies of many African countries in east, west, central and north Africa have grown significantly over the past five years. Most of them host substantial reserves of mineral resources, and it is becoming easier to get to these ore bodies and to do business in countries previously regarded as no-go areas.
On the other hand, the economies of countries in Southern Africa, especially South Africa, is expected to remain stagnant. While the South African government remains in sixes and sevens about regulations, and stumbles about trying to generate enough electricity to keep the lights on, investors have forsaken the country a long time ago.
African countries like the DRC, Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Senegal (the list goes on) are making great discoveries and have done a lot to attract foreign investment. Meanwhile, South Africa is slowly losing ground as one of the top mining destinations in Africa. In fact, there are many that would rather do business in countries like Ghana, Senegal or even the DRC than in South Africa.
Mark Bristow, CEO and president of global giant Barrick Gold, has on numerous occasions said that he would not do any exploration work in South Africa. These countries, and not South Africa, is the focus of new greenfield exploration projects. While Canadian, Australian, Chinese, Russian, Turkish, Indian, and yes, even some South African junior miners and exploration companies flock to make the next big discovery in Africa, the South African government, despite its commitment to attract exploration companies, has not done so. The bottom line is that there are much better opportunities north of the Limpopo. South Africa has dropped from the radar and no matter how President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe try to spin themselves out of a tight situation, investors have lost faith.
The Mining Indaba is a wonderful event about mining in Africa, and that’s where the focus should be. It is thus encouraging to have two presidents from elsewhere in Africa delivering opening speeches. President Julius Bio from Sierra Leone and President Felix Tshisekedi from the DRC will get proceedings underway at the opening of 2020 Investing in Africa Mining Indaba, and that bodes well for the rest of a four day event, with Africa, and not Eskom or Mantashe, hopefully being the star of the show.