In a sunny but windy Cape Town, the great and the good of the African mining industry came together for its largest annual gathering. The mood of the conference was positive but muted as the mining industry in South Africa itself struggles with challenges.
At previous Indabas, the main issue in Cape Town has been the water supply, with showers rationed. This time, ‘load-shedding’ was very apparent with two-hour power-cuts scheduled daily at various times in the city. This is not isolated to Cape Town and the power issues are a major concern for the mining industry reflected in the microcosm of the Indaba event. The announcement that private power generation will be allowed within South Africa has improved industry sentiment, however, and is expected to encourage greater development of on-site power generation at major operations in the country.
The optimism that surrounded the Indaba event in 2019 with the presence of President Ramaphosa and his new Minister for Mines was more muted this year, with investment froth creamed off. A year on, and little seems to have moved on and little foreign investment is being placed in the country with investors lacking confidence. There is also no doubt that the slow-down in the Chinese economy has additionally impacted investment in Southern Africa.
Speaking at Indaba 2020, the Hon Willy Kitobo Samsoni, the Minister for Mines for the Democratic Republic of Congo, also gave an update on the latest production and export figures and strategy for the country. Total cobalt production in 2019 was 78,664t, whilst copper was 1.461Mt. Resources are currently estimated at 75Mt of copper and 6Mt of cobalt. The Minister too, acknowledged the challenges faced by industry in the DRC, particularly around energy supply and infrastructure. Two ministerial decrees have been signed to improve the contracts and supply from smaller mines and the next step is the founding of an agency to improve traceability, for which the Minister is looking for a partnership with the private sector.