On the eve of its landmark 25th anniversary, the Investing in African in African Mining Indaba promised an event that would be bigger and better than ever before in 2019. This seemed like a tall order considering the Indaba is already the world’s largest mining investment conference, however the organisers delivered a truly first-class event that married exciting new initiatives with a star-studded cast of industry giants and governmental ministers in the beautiful Cape Town surroundings. Around 6,000 delegates flocked to the event over the course of the week, many of whom came to see South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa formally address the industry – the first time a sitting president had ever taken to the podium at the Indaba. Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo also took to the stage at the event along with 37 ministers of state from across the continent, giving the Indaba a governmental presence matched by no other industry conference.
Championing Africa’s sustainable economic growth
In 2019, the organisers aimed to continue championing Africa’s sustainable economic growth by offering a conducive environment for deal-making, believing that the Indaba has a crucial role to play in the development of the mining sector and the economy across the continent.
Indeed, the importance of the Indaba was underscored by the fact that thousands of meetings took place during the week and millions of dollars’ worth of deals were secured. The success of the Indaba in this regard also points to a sense of renewed optimism in the industry, as the event is generally held up as a reliable barometer of the health of the mining sector, particularly in South Africa.
“A noticeable change this year from 2018 has been the improved mood and sentiment amongst all delegates, who have been much more optimistic and upbeat, said Indaba’s MD Alex Grose. “This signalises a positive shift in the mining industry and growing confidence globally in the mining sector, improved commodity prices and a more positive regulatory environment in South Africa.”
This sense of improved confidence in the industry was cultivated not long after the Indaba’s grand opening on day one, when South Africa’s Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe gave a keynote address that struck a positive tone for investors in the nation’s mining sector.
Since taking over from Mosebenzi Zwane in February 2018, Mantashe has been instrumental in pushing through a revised Mining Charter, which he believes has delivered certainty in terms of legislative guidance.
“The policy and legislative framework were [in the past] marked with concern about uncertainty. That has been addressed and investors coming to South Africa now know what they need to do,” he said.
Mantashe’s speech kicked off a jam-packed day of presentations on the main stage, with topics ranging from resource nationalism to climate change, sustainable mining and battery metals. Meanwhile, on the exhibitor floor the room buzzed with activity, particularly at the investment battlefield stage where the fiercely fought competition for junior miners commenced.
A successful first day of the Indaba was rounded off by an invite-only reception called 25 Years of Gold in Africa and around the World, which RGN attended on the roof terrace of the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
The event was hosted by the World Gold Council in partnership with Minerals Council South Africa and This is Gold, featuring a series of compelling speeches from leaders of some of the biggest gold companies in the world, including Mark Bristow, Neal Froneman and Niël Pretorius.
On day two, the Indaba provided a rare opportunity for delegates to hear from two African heads of state – Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana and South Africa’s current President Cyril Ramaphosa. The highly anticipated presidential day kicked off with Akufo-Addo calling for the mining industry to use its economic power to make African people prosper.
“Africa has made the world rich with our minerals. Our gemstones adorn crowns and homes around the world. It is time to make Africa prosperous, and enable her people to attain a dignified standard of living. Join us in this exciting project for sustainable economic growth,” he said.
Later in the day, Ramaphosa delivered a rousing speech to a full capacity audience on the main stage, which laid out his unwavering confidence in the national mining industry, despite years of stagnation as a result of ongoing policy uncertainty.
“Many say that the sun is setting on the South African mining industry after years of leading the economy. We are firm believers that South Africa’s mining industry is still in its sunrise days, and long will those days last,” the president proclaimed.
During his 90-minute speech, Ramaphosa unveiled a detailed plan for mining companies to strive towards in what he called ’10 Value Creating Principles for a more modern, successful and productive mining industry’.
One element that runs through each of the 10 points, and something that Ramaphosa stressed throughout his presentation, was the need for the industry to work collaboratively with all stakeholders, including government, the workforce and communities.
“We are here together on a journey of inclusive development in South Africa’s mining industry. Today I want to say this collaborative approach means we all have tasks. I believe that in doing so we have our own responsibilities as government, companies, labour and communities.
“It is through creating shared value that we can ensure a sustainable mining industry,” Ramaphosa concluded.
The show goes on
The Indaba reached new highs on day three, with ministerial addresses and panel discussions coming thick and fast across the four stages. On the main stage, the highly competitive investment battlefield reached its climax ahead of the Indaba’s glitzy 25th anniversary party in the evening.
Meanwhile, the International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM) used the Indaba as an opportunity to release a new mine closure guidance for its members and other responsible mining companies, the details of which can be found in the subsequent pages of this issue. ICMM’s membership includes Anglo American, Barrick, Glencore and Newmont.
Back on the main stage, the Investment Battlefield reached the final round, after 22 junior miners had been whittled down to just four as the week progressed. Prospect Resources, Avenira Ltd, Theta Gold Mines and Orion Minerals presented their stories to the audience and the ‘Dragon’s Den’ judging panel ahead of the crucial final decision.
After much deliberation among the judges, it was announced that Prospect Resources were the winners of the 2019 Investment Battlefield and executive director Harry Greaves was invited on stage to collect his award. Prospect is advancing its Arcadia Lithium Project in Zimbabwe – Africa’s second largest hard rock lithium project.
The final flourish
There were perhaps a few sore heads at the Indaba on day four, following the hugely successful 25th anniversary party at Cape Town’s V&A waterfront the night before, but those who made it to the event’s final day were offered a window in the future of the mining industry.
The Indaba hosted its Young Leaders Programme in partnership with global advisory firm Brunswick Group, and welcomed the next generation of mining professionals to connect with current CEOs, ministers and government leaders in a packed morning of networking.
Brunswick’s senior advisor Hilary Joffe was front and centre throughout the programme, and was joined by Gwede Mantashe, who book-ended the Indaba by reminding delegates that ‘young people will be at the heart of digital mining in the future’. Other speakers including outgoing chair of Women in Mining South Africa (WiMSA) Lindi Nakedi and Bushveld Minerals CEO Fortune Mojapelo.
The Young Leaders Programme and the 2019 Mining Indaba was drawn to a climactic close after the winner of the Leaders of Tomorrow competition was announced. Congratulations to Olebogeng Sentsho, CEO of Simba Mgodi Fund for picking up the award. Simba Mgodi is an incubation fund designed to support mining entrepreneurs.
After four content-bursting days, the Mining Indaba was concluded for another year. The landmark 25th edition featured more ministers, more initiatives and more deal-making than ever before. On behalf of everyone at the Indaba, Alex Grose declared the 2019 event the best one yet when speaking to RGN.
“This year cemented and expanded on the successful revamp of the event in 2018 and attracted even more delegates from our key audiences – Governments, major mining companies, junior miners, investors and service providers.
“We are already working on new features for 2020 on both content and technology fronts. However, we don’t want to spill the beans just yet – stay tuned for more information! What we can say at this stage is that like everything else we try to do, the new features we’re currently developing are set to further improve our clients’ experience.
“We will also see an improved offering for lawyers and insurers at the conference, specifically focused around risk management and a greater involvement from Chinese investors and companies,” concluded Grose.
Everyone at RGN would like to say thank you and congratulations to the Indaba for a fantastic 25th anniversary event. See you again in 2020!