Tales from the Road: Themes from Mining Indaba, Cape Town

From February 6-9 2017, the GEOVIA team participated in the world’s largest mining investment conference and the largest mining event in Africa, Mining Indaba. Over four days, more than 7,000 mining professionals from mining companies, investors, governments and service providers attended from 100 countries.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary in Cape Town, this year’s Mining Indaba was themed “Leveraging the next wave of growth: How can you invest in African mining to make long-term profits?”

With this theme in mind, we round up the top trends and news gleaned from the show:

1. Virtual Reality for Mining

This year, over 800 attendees were able to experience our virtual mine which offers a glimpse into the future of mining and what is possible with the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform.

Our 3DEXPERIENCE Mine was is a virtual mine solution that offers a transformative innovation journey, enabling users the ability to understand, control and increase the value of their businesses. It provides a single version of the truth by centralizing, sharing and managing all data.

The general consensus of the attendees who tried out our virtual mine experience was that innovations such as these offer hope to a fairly unstable industry. Although the industry is still in a period of uncertainty, it seems that there are more than enough reasons to be upbeat about the future of mining.

2. Revival of the Mining Industry

South Africa’s Minister for Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Zwane, said he is optimistic about the future of mining in the country, with about R50 trillion worth of minerals still in the ground yet to be discovered. This sentiment was echoed by Zambian Minister Christopher Yaluma, who commented that 2017 is an encouraging year for mining stocks, buoyed by increased free cash flow, positive earnings momentum and the prospect of distributing excess capital to shareholders.

And it’s not only mining stocks and commodities that are looking up – the African continent as a whole is looking more attractive for investors – largely due to an improvement in policy. According to the Fraser Institute’s Annual Survey of Mining Companies 2016, many African countries are looking better to investors than they did in 2015. The survey ranks 104 jurisdictions around the world based on geologic attractiveness and the extent to which government policies encourage or deter exploration and investment.

The top performers on the African continent were Côte d’Ivoire (17th), Botswana (19th) and Ghana (22nd).

3. Driving Leadership Amongst Young Miners

Technology is changing rapidly. The tools and software used in today’s generation will become rapidly more sophisticated – so it’s important to educate the generation of young miners, who will be tasked with finding and extracting increasingly depleted natural resources.

Mining Indaba developed a young leaders career development program to increase the required skills and experience of graduates entering the sector, which included three panel discussions on:

  • Mining under the spotlight
  • The voice of civil society: Extending the mining industry’s contribution beyond the economic
  • ‘Mine the Gap’: rethinking talent in the mining industry of the future

“The panel discussions were so popular last year that it now forms a permanent place in our annual official Investing in Mining Indaba program. We are excited to be able to create a platform for industry leaders to help advance future generations of mining professionals towards a successful career in mining,” said Harry Chapman, Director of Content for Mining Indaba.

Other highlights included a career skills workshop, Q&A session and keynote speakers, which provided invaluable opportunities for students, university representatives and graduates to interact with HR representatives, recruiters and industry leaders. Furthermore, the Mining Indaba bursary program, which started with R192 000 (launched in 2013), has continued to grow to over R300 000.

4. Focus on Junior Miners

In addition, Mining Indaba discounted registration rates for junior mining companies as the future success of African mining largely depend on such operators. The Mining Investment Battlefield competition was held during the conference, where 16 juniors had to pitch their projects to a panel of investors. To enter, mining companies had to meet the conditions of a market cap of below $50 million, had to have an Africa-based project and be an actual mining company (not just owning exploration licenses).

The first place winner was Consolidated Nickel Mine, who pitched a project based on funding to restart their mine, while runner up Sula Iron & Gold focused their pitch on the exploration of gold, iron ore and coltan in Sierra Leone.

To top it off, we had a really great time talking to attendees at the Dassault Systèmes booth and hope to see you there again next year!

Our next stop is Minexcellence in Santiago, Chile from March 29-31. Come visit us at Booth #3, we will also be presenting a paper on Gaining Visibility and Control over Mining Operations: Benefits and Case Studies.

Mellischa Rautenbach

Mellischa Rautenbach

User Advocacy Marketing Specialist, GEOVIA at Dassault Systèmes
Mellischa Rautenbach is the GEOVIA User Advocacy Marketing Specialist for Africa, part of the EMEAR region (Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Russia). She is based in Johannesburg, South Africa.