Mining Indaba 2020: Day one round-up:

The 26th annual Investing in African Mining Indaba got underway today in the Cape Town sunshine, with the 2020 event focusing on the theme of optimising growth and investment in the digitised mining economy.

Mantashe opens 2020 Mining Indaba

South Africa’s Mineral Resources and Energy minister Gwede Mantashe gave the opening address at the Indaba, and used the conference to announce that the government has made the decision to start a generating company outside of struggling state utility Eskom.

“That is a security measure, as Eskom is grappling with all the crises and problems, we must have a fail-safe option of delivering energy,” said Mantashe.

The minister admitted that mining production in South Africa has suffered as a result of planned power cuts or ‘load-shedding’ as Eskom have come to call it. Mantashe subsequently announced that the government would allow mining companies to generate energy for self-use without a licence.

A Presidential presence

The Indaba organisers secured two African heads of state for the 2020 event – Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Wonie Bio and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba.

President Bio was first to give an address to a packed audience at the Main Stage on the morning of day one. Popularly referred to as the ‘Father of Democracy’ in Sierra Leone, Bio highlighted the West African nation’s increasing attractiveness as a mining investment destination.

Shortly after Bio’s address, DRC Prime Minister Ilunga delivered his own speech at the Main Stage. Ilunga called on all stakeholders to respect the changes made to the country’s mining code back in 2018, as resource nationalism continues to be a dominant talking point across the African mining industry.

The Investment Battlefield returns

One of the Indaba’s most popular offerings – the Investment Battlefield – kicked off on day one, with mining companies pitted against each other in a ‘boxing ring’ in front of a panel of expect judges.

The Investment Battlefield category on day one was Battery and Energy Metals, which was split into two heats: Early stage exploration and Advanced exploration/development.

Copper explorer ARC Minerals’ chief financial officer Remy Welschinger sufficiently impressed the judges with his presentation of the company’s recent exploration success in the Zambian Copperbelt and was deemed the winner of the early stage exploration round. ARC will progress to the next round of the competition, which will run until day three of the Indaba.

Check back to RGN tomorrow for a round-up of day two at the Mining Indaba.