Africa Down Under Conference Perth kicks off next Wednesday as mines ministers, government delegates and leaders of key Australian companies operating in Africa converge amid the mining sector’s resurgence.
Paydirt Media Pty Ltd’s 16th annual Africa Down Under aims to raise awareness of Australia’s mining and energy investments in the world’s second largest continent and focus on plans for the region.
Africa Down Under 2018 is taking place during Africa Week with satellite events to look at research, sustainable development, energy and capacity-building.
The annual conference is the highlight of the week and will again take place at Pan Pacific Perth hotel, extending over the three days ending Friday, August 31.
Paydirt executive chairman Bill Repard will open proceedings at 8.15am next Wednesday followed by WA Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston who will give the opening address.
WA Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston.
Johnston told Proactive Investors: “Perth is the ideal place to host the Africa Down Under conference, as Western Australia is one of the world’s biggest mining and petroleum jurisdictions in the world.
“Our state is also an international hub for mining services, science and technology; has a highly skilled workforce and has been continually ranked as one of the world’s most attractive destinations for mining investment.”
The mines minister noted 117 companies listed on the Australian Securities Exchange were developing mining projects in 29 African nations and 84 were based in WA.
The top three of those WA companies by market capitalisation are: South32 Ltd (ASX:S32) (LON:S32) (JSE:S32) (OTCMKTS:SOUHY), operating in South Africa; mineral sands project operator Iluka Resources Limited (ASX:ILU) (FRA:ILZ) (OTCMKTS:ILKAF) (OTCMKTS:ILKAY) (OTCMKTS:RMGGY) in Sierra Leone; and gold miner Resolute Mining Limited (ASX:RSG) (FRA:RSM) (OTCMKTS:RMGGF) in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Mali.
Johnston concluded: “The McGowan Government sees tremendous potential to build on the economic ties between Western Australia and Africa, particularly in mining, the Australian mining equipment, technology and services sector, and education and training.”
Automation advocate Resolute Mining will debut the company side of proceedings, taking the stage at 8.55am after South Africa’s Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.
Resolute is the third largest Western Australia-based mining company actively operating and developing projects in Africa, according to market capitalisation.
Bibiani is expected to be Resolute’s third operating gold mine, alongside Syama mine in Mali and Ravenswood mine in Queensland.
The gold company’s managing director & CEO John Welborn will speak for 20 minutes about the company’s experience in Africa.
The Perth-based company is tipped to become the first company in the world to have a fully-autonomous underground mine at Syama Gold Project in Mali.
Resolute recently updated its feasibility study for the project, reducing all-in-sustaining-costs by $135 per ounce, or 18.1%, to US$746 an ounce.
The company holds several close-together assets on South Africa’s Areachap Belt and a number of Australian assets, including the Fraser Range project joint venture in Western Australia with JV partner Independence Group.
Orion’s lead project is Prieska, a 29.4 million tonne zinc-copper mine shuttered in 1991, three years before the end of Apartheid years.
The project is undergoing a definitive feasibility study due early next year.
Smart told Proactive Investors he was expecting a “nail-biting period” in the next 12 months as South Africa moved toward national elections next year.
“The combination of an election year, destabilised and weakened state structures and institutions, a justifiably dissatisfied populace facing huge poverty and unemployment collectively amount to a daunting mountain to climb,” he said.
Orion is already creating local jobs in South Africa with underground drilling at the old Prieska mine.
Smart highlighted the nation had previously shown it could advance an economic agenda and expressed his hope leaders could do so again.
“South Africa has demonstrated before that a united effort can deliver remarkable growth,” he said.
“We need strong personalities to seize the moment and provide unifying leadership to harness one of the best growth opportunities available for our country.
“Our mineral endowment is well known, but it’s time for a completely different operating strategy for team South Africa if we ever expect to harvest that latent value.”
Prieska Copper Mine operated for the 20 years to 1991, employing about 4,000 people.
Smart acknowledged the mining industry could be an easy target during election campaigning but expressed his hope an incoming government would take the higher road.
“Unfortunately the mining industry — which is a large employer with high community impact and large, high-profile footprints, and which is fighting its own global challenges such as commodity prices — traditionally becomes a soft target to populist politicians in times like this,” he said.
“Let’s hope that the new governing party leadership can prevail and reinstate some of the ‘rainbow nation dream’.”
Smart expects success for African countries that value their investment climate and do not “disappoint their investment partners in return for short-term gains”.
“I think those countries that built and sustained investor-friendly, transparent and stable legal and regulatory platforms will harvest the long-term support of those investors to weather the current commodity downturn and continue to position for the next phase of growth in commodity demand,” he said.
Orion also holds Jacomynspan nickel-copper-cobalt and platinum group element project in South Africa, along with the Masiqham zinc-copper project and Marydale gold-copper project in the African country.
Independence Group has an option through the companies’ JV agreement that allows it to snap up Orion’s prospective nickel projects in South Africa or form JVs to develop the assets.
Former Nigerian president Dr-Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
Former Nigerian president and current Africa Progress Group co-chair Dr-Chief Olusegun Obasanjo will open the second session on Wednesday at 10.20am.
An afternoon session led by Paydirt’s Dominic Piper at 1.10pm is titled Meet the Ambassadors and will be a panel discussion involving ambassadors from South Africa (Adam McCarthy), Ghana (Andrew Barnes), Kenya (Alison Chartres), Nigeria (Paul Lehmann), Zimbabwe (Bronte Moules), Egypt (Neil Hawkins), Mauritius (Jenny Dee) and Morocco (Berenice Owen-Jones).
Company presentations round out the rest of the afternoon, with leaders to take the stage from Cardinal Resources Ltd (ASX:CDV), Lucapa Diamond Company Ltd (ASX:LOM), Nzuir Copper Ltd, Azumah Resources Ltd (ASX:AZM), Bass Metals Ltd (FRA:R2F), Black Rock Mining Ltd (ASX:BKT), Celsius Resources Ltd (ASX:CLA) and Total Eren S.A.
Africa Down Under will take place on August 29-31 in Perth. To see a program, visit africadownunderconference.com/conference-programme.