Mining Indaba Virtual: day two round-up

The 2021 Investing in African Mining Indaba drew to a close  after a second consecutive day of virtual content involving a keynote address from a sitting African president and a series of informative panels on the most important issues facing the African mining sector.

Indaba’s first ever virtual event proved to be a huge success for the 6,000 attending delegates, who received the same high level insight into the current state of the African mining sector from the seamless digital platform as they would have from the physical event in Cape Town.

Botswana’s president speaks

The third and final presidential speaker at this year’s Indaba was H.E. Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana. In the prime time slot of the day, Masisi told the online audience that Boswana needs to diversify its economy away from the diamond sector, which was severely impacted by COVID-19 last year.

“An overdependence on diamonds has more than ever made it imperative for us to urgently expand our revenue base to other minerals such as coal and base metals,” he said. “We are digitising important geological information in an effort to encourage prospecting for non-diamond materials in Botswana,” Masisi added.

Two-part public-private collaboration segment

In the first of two panels on public-private collaboration to deliver improved outcomes across African mining, a six-person panel spoke of vital cooperation in South Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic and going forward.

Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman made a passionate plea for the mining sector’s role in aiding South Africa’s economic recovery. “Business is part of the solution – not the enemy – and in mining we certainly work that way,” he said.

“We need an investor friendly-environment. We’ve made progress in the last few years, but many aspects are still not investor friendly, including slow mining rights applications.”

In the second part of the wider-arching public-private collaboration theme within African mining, a new panel agreed that Africa could hold the key in the global decarbonisation trend, with its suite of energy metals.

EITI’s Africa director Bady Balde said: “No government can afford to ignore Africa’s role in the transition. African governments must do a better job in terms of leading collective action and collaboration as we move towards global decarbonisation.”

Good news stories

Two positive stories in the global mining sector during a COVID-ravaged 2020 were the strong gold price and the advancement of decarbonisation goals and the role of green metals and PGMs within this theme. Both stories were covered in detail during the Indaba’s final two live sessions of the virtual event.

After investor demand for gold drove the price over the US$2,000 per tonne mark (briefly) last year, the World Gold Council’s chief strategist John Reade noted a dip back down in the gold price during Q4, but said that new concern surrounding COVID variants could push investors back into gold.

“The main risk for investors in 2021 is that they do not have diversified portfolios with appropriate weighting towards gold. With gold 10% below its record price, now is the time to add it to your portfolio,” he said.

The final conversation focused on green metals, PGMs and global decarbonisation, with leaders from BloombergNEF, RBPlat and Anglo American Platinum among the panelists to grace the virtual stage.

Dr Kwasi Ampofo, battery metals analyst at BloombergNEF neatly summarised the collective thoughts of the panel by proclaiming that Africa holds the keys to the decarbonisation of the global economy.

“The road to our net-zero future is going to pass through a mine, and mines in Africa will be instrumental. The energy transition will be supported by mines in Madagascar, the DRC, South Africa, Morocco, Zimbabwe and more,” he concluded.

To register for Mining Indaba’s Virtual Investment Programme on 30-31 March, please visit Indaba’s website

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