Mining Indaba™ is not only Africa’s largest mining event, but also the world’s largest mining investment event. Juliet Langton spoke to Jonathan Moore, managing director and senior vice president of events at Mining Indaba LLC, to discover how Mining Indaba got to where it is today and where African mining is heading next
The annual ‘Investing in African Mining Indaba’ event has been a staple in Cape Town, South Africa, for the past 19 years. As the world’s largest gathering of African mining decision makers – attracting more than 7,500 individuals, 1,800 international companies and 40 government delegations – it justifiably claims to be “where the world connects with African mining”.
Its audience comprises stakeholders from across the African mining investment chain, including both private and professional investors, mining executives, producers, economists, analysts, and government leaders charged with defining the mining criteria for their countries. The last few years have seen greater representation from other continents, particularly Asia as the economies of China and India have continued to invest in Africa.
Jonathan Moore is the managing director and senior vice president of events at Mining Indaba LLC, the company that organises the event. He says it is Mining Indaba’s wide spectrum of participants from across the mining community – focused solely on investment in African mining – that sets the conference apart from every other event. “It’s truly a unique event,” says Moore.
“There are many large international mining events that discuss mining in a global context but this is the only event dedicated specifically to mining investment across the African continent. I believe this unique position makes this event specific and different to all the rest out there.”
Growing in numbers and reach
Indaba has endured for almost 20 years and it continues to grow. Over the last four years alone its attendance has grown from 2,500 to more than 7,000, which Moore says has “further increased the value of the event, by allowing global professionals to connect with everyone on the African mining investment spectrum in one location at one time”.
The event is now so large it occupies the entire Cape Town Convention Centre and its influence extends outwards to the entire city, claims Moore. “We bring millions of US dollars into the Cape Town economy every year and there are a large number of meetings that happen in and around the city during Mining Indaba,” he says.
“We have a concierge-level business matchmaking program for anyone registered for the event and through this we actualised 4,800 meetings in 2012. We know there are meetings outside our remit as well, including people that come to Cape Town every year not to participate in Mining Indaba, but to interact with those in town for the event.”
The growth of the event has brought many advantages for African mining and the local Cape economy, while enabling Mining Indaba to “give back” in such a way that invests in the future minds of the industry. In 2013, the organisation announced the first recipients of the Mining Indaba bursary programme, which awards US$10,000 to each of two highly qualified students. This annual programme will announce two new students each year.
Moore believes Mining Indaba’s long-running success is largely contributable to the many strong partnerships it has established over the last 19 years with critical organisations and institutions on the African continent. “Mining Indaba took a ground-breaking role back in 1994 when we launched Mining Indaba in Cape Town and no-one could have ever expected it would become what it is today,” he says
Mining Indaba works closely with the Department of Mineral Resources in South Africa and has relationships with mining ministries across Africa and beyond the continent. “We have more than 30 African government delegations formally participating, in addition to other government delegations in attendance in an observance role,” Moore adds. “We have very well-established relationships with the ministries from Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, India, China, Japan and the US who are looking to invest in the different African countries.
“As an organisation we have been diligent in the management and execution of this event. Each year we have invested in the quality of the speakers, bringing in the world’s largest mining houses, our press outreach and collaboration with African and non-African government delegations. This important effort has enabled us to grow the event year over year.”
Africa’s changing landscape
Mining Indaba plays an important role in highlighting the new opportunities throughout the mining value chain in Africa. Moore says that while the landscape is changing continuously, it is certainly moving in a positive direction. “We are noticing increasingly stable governments, greater investments and developments in infrastructure, and sound investment strategies and policies,” he affirms.
Increasingly, however, investors are also looking at the more social factors of mining projects, such as corporate social responsibility.
“The mining industry itself has clearly learned that the issues of sustainability and corporate citizenship are critical to long-term success,” Moore remarks. “This is important to investors as well – they want confidence they are investing in sustainable long term companies.”
While the perception of risk is still present in Africa, Moore believes that is essentially counterweighted by the “tremendous riches” the region holds underground and the mutually beneficial discussions among governments, international investors and mining companies.
“The future for African mining is extraordinarily bright,” Moore continues. “The mineral riches on the continent are unparalleled and will continue to drive the future of Africa for decades to come. With that, there will be advancements in infrastructure, economic development and social development, and that I think will transform the continent.”
Moore believes Mining Indaba will be “a critical platform” in Africa’s advancement and continue to be the place the world convenes to discuss the future of mining investment on the continent.
Simultaneously, Mining Indaba is extending its reach beyond Africa by holding investment-focused events in other regions. “Last year, we launched our ‘Investing in Asian Mining Indaba’ event, which takes place in Singapore in October and is solely dedicated to investment opportunities on the Asian continent,” Moore reveals.
“Our plan is to continue that expansion to other regions around the globe and we believe we have the ability to build Indaba into a world-class, global brand in mining investment.” Mining Indaba’s first objective was to be successful in Africa. Now, it plans to replicate that success around the world.