Junior Indaba kicks off on positive note


(Johannesburg 1 June 2016) Promising news emanated from the first day of the 2016 Junior Indaba from the African Union Commission, Department of Minerals and Resources and other industry stakeholders.

Keynote speaker, chairperson of the African Union Commission HE Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma reemphasised that the junior mining sector is critical to Africa’s development since the exploration of old and new deposits of minerals have the potential to catapult the continent’s growth and development to higher levels.

Dr Dlamini Zuma noted that despite the riches and potential opportunities within the African continent, the continent’s people are amongst the poorest in the world and the continent has some of the most glaring inequalities.

“Africa’s abundant resources should be used to spur on our industrialization, economic modernization and diversification towards an integrated and peaceful Africa with shared prosperity” stated Dr Dlamini Zuma.  Citing the strengthening of mapping systems, a move away from current corrupt and rent seeking tendencies, the negotiation of contracts that puts African interests first and creation of sustainable linkages with local economies requires a change in mind set.

“We must change the mind-set to increase the value add of the continents natural resources from 15% to at least 30% which would create millions of jobs for Africans currently excluded from the economy. This would ensure Africa becomes a net exporter of raw materials”.

Dr Dlamini Zuma announced the launch of an African Minerals Development Centre, aimed at supporting and ensuring that African governments are better equipped to negotiate better terms and contracts in mining.  In order to implement this strategy Dr Dlamini Zuma called on the mining and education sectors to invest in much needed skills particularly as it relates to the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics areas.

South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Minerals and Resources, Mr Godfrey Oliphant acknowledged that consultation and collaboration have to be the watchwords of the local mining sectors success in moving forward.

The Deputy Minister mentioned that in the context of the overall state of the mining sector nowadays and given the economic environment, the growing financial markets volatility, and the general expectations around the commodity markets, the focus on junior mining is both timely and critical for policy engagements.

“Maybe the time has arrived when we need to consider the establishment of a “Junior MIGDETT” (Mining Industry Growth and Development Task Team) in recognition of the fact that junior mining now faces serious and material challenges that require a partnership framework, “stated Deputy Minister Oliphant.

The Junior Indaba delegates were encouraged and invited to explore a number of opportunities in other African countries including Rwanda, Nigeria, and Botswana by companies successfully operating in these territories.

Industry legends provided insight into the some of the success factors during consolidation, shared smart approaches to acquisitions and advice on long term views on labour challenges were shared by Neal Froneman, CEO Sibyana.

Another industry legend Rob Still cautioned juniors to keep close to the ground and the need to access critical knowledge and data “There are lots of small failures and very few big successes in mining, but the key is to cut the projects that don’t work as early and as cheaply as possible.”

Busting a few mining myths included one from economist Chris Hart, that “the cycle is dead” Hart mentioned that investment in mining is a long term investment. “You need to look after the industry in the good times, so investors can carry you through bad times. We have not looked after the industry as a result mining is seen as an orphan asset.”

Rounding up Day one of the 2016 Junior Indaba, Chairperson Bernard Swanepoel presented the opportunity to bust the myth that “the mining charter is alive and well” to Hulme Scholes, Director at Malan Scholes.  Scholes stated that the Charter is in fact dead and has unequivocal evidence that the implementation of the Mining Charter is political and not administrative. Malan Scholes is applying to set aside the entire Mining Charter and Amended Mining Charter.

The final day of the 2016 Junior Indaba takes from 09h00 at The Country Club Johannesburg, Auckland Park.