Africa Brief

The future of mining in Africa

Africa is the world’s most mineral-rich continent and consequently has the potential to become a mining mecca. There are large deposits of coal, diamonds, gold, uranium, platinum, iron, rock salt, potash, and more. Mining companies are also attracted to Africa by the relatively low cost of labour and relaxed regulatory frameworks. With many African countries (such as the DRC, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Angola) topping the lists of the world’s fastest emerging economies – and this in large measure because of their known mineral wealth – and still others (such as South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda and Botswana) showing notable signs of business development and stability, the future of mining in the region looks to be assured, provided issues of security, corruption and supply chains can be well managed and ultimately resolved.

Infrastructure development

One of the keys to safeguarding as well as expanding Africa’s mining economy into the future is the development of modern, extensive and reliable infrastructure, as this will ensure efficient and competitively priced production rates and supply chains.

Ambitious and forward-looking projects are underway across the continent, from the building of rail lines to link landlocked countries and interior mining sites with key port cities and alleviate pressure on road systems to the development of numerous transnational highways that will streamline transport and trade and so develop national and regional markets. Notable road projects include the Trans-Maghreb Highway and ECOWAS’s Lagos-Abidjan Highway, while two of the most strategic rail lines are the Trans-Kalahari Railway and Mombasa-Kigali Rail Project.

Another positive development is the construction of world-class dams and power projects, such as the Grand Inga Dam in the DRC and Kenya’s Late Turkana Wind Power Project. At present however the supply of electricity in many countries from South Africa to the DRC to Ghana is irregular, in short supply, and expensive, hampering economies in general and the development of mining activities in specific.

Africa’s “4th generation” of mining regulations

The extractive sector in Africa has undergone what mining industry expert Bonnie Campbell dubbed “three generations” of liberalisation since the 1980s. We are now arguably entering a fourth generation, this one characterised by a preoccupation with transparency and accountability on the part of governments, mining companies and other stakeholders. With a troublesome legacy of fraud and corruption in Africa, this trend is both understandable and much needed.

The World Bank and the International Finance Corporation, among others, have been offering African nations help in developing mining laws that will prove investor friendly and also help to ensure operating transparency, which is necessary for protecting the rights and interests of local communities and minorities.

The primacy of environmental concerns in today’s society, especially around newly controversial mining practices such as fracking, necessitates that legislators, investors and environmentalists find common ground so as to lay a stable and sustainable framework for future developments.

2014 Africa Mining Indaba

The annual Investing in African Mining Indaba™ is organised by Mining Indaba LLC. For more than 19 years, the Investing in African Mining Indaba in collaboration with its partners in South Africa and the African continent, have channelled billions of dollars into the African mining value chain. The Investing in African Mining Indaba is the world’s largest mining investment conference, the world’s third largest mining conference, and Africa’s largest mining event.

To get more facts on this event, please follow the link to 2014 Mining Indaba event page.

David Okwara

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