The Investing in African Mining Indaba celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. The Indaba was held from 4th to 7th February 2019. The conference brought together 6192 delegates comprising of government representatives, mining executives, investors and government ministers. It was an opportunity for the delegates to discuss and gather knowledge on the state of mining in 2019, and what the future looks like for the mining industry.
The Indaba was addressed by His Excellency Nana Akufo – Addo, the President of Ghana who said that Ghana has embarked on a campaign to eliminate illegal mining, particularly small scale artisanal mining. This has reduced the level of pollution in the rivers affected by the practice. He also emphasised the need to diversify mining to include other minerals, in addition to gold.
The conference was also graced by the presence of His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, who in his address emphasised the need for government and other players in the mining sector to work together for the mutual benefit of all. His Excellency outlined the principles he believes are necessary for the success of the mining sector. These include:
- Companies must foster growth in areas where they operate
- Partnerships with local governments are vital. Companies should share their knowledge and expertise with municipalities, particularly when it comes to infrastructure development.
- The mining sector must invest in improving the living conditions of its employees.
- There must be investment in education and training.
- The sector should partner with education institutions and contribute to curricula and provide job training opportunities
- Beneficiation must be embraced
- Companies must invest more in health and safety of their employees.
- Mining must provide internship and job opportunities as well as make SMEs a priority in the supply value chain.
- The development of women in mining must be prioritised.
- Companies must have the courage to include employees in the shareholding of their businesses.
Among the notable events at the Indaba was the ‘Sustainable Development Day’ which saw key stakeholders discuss responsible and sustainable mining. Sustainable development is defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Key messages from the discussions were:
- Research has shown mining to be destructive and not constructive.
- There should be transparency and accountability in the mining sector.
- Sustainable Development Goals should be incorporated in the Extractive Industry
- Communities most affected by mining should be involved in discussions about mining and the development to be derived from it.
- Governments need to collaborate with all stakeholders to avoid environmental degradation and acceleration of climate change.
- There is a need to diversify to other industries in order to create sustainability.
Another noteworthy event was the ‘Intergovernmental Summit’ at which discussions were held with Mining Ministers aimed at integrating best practices in the industry. Key messages from the discussions included:
- African countries score very low on the Human Development Index compared to other mineral producing countries.
- Mineral resources should serve as a catalyst to industrialisation in Africa.
- The ever- increasing illicit Financial Flows from Africa exacerbate the problem of poverty.
- There is need for policy certainty in the mining industry in order to attract investment.
- The responsibilities of all stakeholders in the industry should be defined, clearly distinguishing between the roles of government and those of the companies.
- Mining will change in the next 30 years and industry has to prepare to mine differently using technologies such as remotely piloted aircrafts, drones, robotics, etc.
To illustrate what this change in mining might look like, another event, ‘Mining 2050’ was held to showcase the most innovative technologies designed to streamline mining operations, improve safety and save money. To learn more about these innovations, follow the link http://www.wgei.org/other-resources/ to access the presentation made at the Mining Indaba.
Concurrently with the Investing in African Mining Indaba, members of Civil Society and Communities met in Cape Town for the Alternative Mining Indaba. This is an initiative that was designed to give a voice to the communities that are most impacted by mining ‘through exposure to polluted air, water and soil, through disease and poverty, loss of lives and eking out of un-rehabilitated mining sites.’1 For further information about this initiative, check out their website at altminingindaba.co.za
1 Alternative Mining Indaba: Declarations commemorating 10 years of Growing stronger and forging forward.
By Sheilla Ngira (WGEI Secretariat/ SAI Uganda)