Côte d’Ivoire, Africa’s model for mining reform.
Although the geological potential of Côte d’Ivoire is undeniable current contribution of the sector to GDP is minimal. How would you assess the importance of the mining sector to the future development of Côte d’Ivoire’s economy?
JC: The potential of the mining sector as a key contributor to the national economy has always been there. Now the political situation has normalised, the reconciliation process is underway and the right economic policies are being put in place Cote d’Ivoire’s progress is well underway. In less than three years we have made tremendous progress, if you look at the overall growth Cote d’Ivoire has averaged 9% and is forecast to be between 9-10% in 2014. We are on a strong growth trend which will continue as the country continues to make reforms.
This year we were classified in the World Bank Doing Business Report as one of the ten best performers, which sends a positive signal to the international community. The government wants to continue to improve our performance and create confidence for investors that the right policies are in place and that the country is moving in the right direction and that the environ-ment for doing business is attractive.
In the mining sector, we have huge potential in many minerals including gold, base metals, iron ore, manganese, nickel and bauxite to name a few. The country is well endowed in terms of min-erals and on top of this we have the right policy, a new mining code that has been put in place and a code that has been openly prepared with the participation of all stakeholders, including the private sector and civil society. With this the mining sector will play a much larger role in the contribution to the GDP in the country.
Today we have four gold mines the fifth one will start construction this month and we have three manganese mines in operation. Overall our gold production is about 15 tonnes per year and we expect this to increase constantly in the upcoming years, especially after a large gold discovery was made recently. We expect a continued increase in manganese from the current 400,000 tonnes per year, as a fourth mine comes online later this year.
Côte d’Ivoire has been highlighted as a role model not just in the West African region but across the continent in terms of your competitive mining reforms. What has contributed to this feat?
JC: The private sector must be reassured that they will find an environment conductive to taking the long-term risks that mining requires. There is currently an international consensus on what con-stitutes good legislation in the mining sector. It is our goal to ensure our mining industry is built around such good practices. When a mining deposit exists, its development must bring benefits to all parties: the private sector, the state and the communities. We openly discussed the mining code with the both the private and civil society, addressing all pertinent issues including tax regimes, local content, local communities and environment.
How accurate are the international investor perceptions of Cote d’Ivoire? What points would you like to highlight to those less versed in the opportunities present in the mining sector?
JC: Our best ambassadors are the companies currently operating in Côte d’Ivoire and they are very happy with the investment environment in the country.
With what we have so far achieved investors are better informed and this is one of the reasons for my presence at Indaba. It was important to come and to show investors that we are making progress, we have massive potential and that investors should come and look at the potential prospects that we have available.
During the crisis, exploration was dramatically reduced. As an industry in its infancy, what initi-atives are in place to improve the level of skilled labour and infrastructure available to the min-ing industry?
JC: We are making an effort to rehabilitate the whole industry, not only for the private sector but also to improve the administration of the public sector.
We will continue to improve our geophysical data so investors can understand the geological potential. We have the Kimberly process and we believe this year the embargo imposed by U.N. the for trade of diamonds will be removed which will then open up the diamond industry. We are very encouraged by the reaction of the private companies and we are pleased by the out-come of the Indaba meetings.
Côte d’Ivoire also has strong investment in road, highway and energy infrastructure. We are already self sufficient in energy, but we are continuing continue to invest heavily in energy. Security has greatly improved and the African Development Bank is coming back to the country.
2013 was a year of transformation, what should we expect to see in 2014?
JC: 2014 will be a strong and dynamic year and exploration will be intensified. Côte d’Ivoire will continue to focus on the promotion of nation’s mining industry and improve and reform the industry.
Côte d’Ivoire was one of the leading countries economic wise in Western Africa, we have been through a difficult time, but the key message is to tell investors that this is behind us. In the last three years the country has changed very rapidly, security has been restored and we have many headquarters re-establishing themselves. The key message is that Côte d’Ivoire is back and we can restore confidence in the country and we invite people to come and see the potential of the sector.