African mining industry to increase collaboration at London conference.
RL: SNL Metals & Mining wanted to run a conference focused on how mining supports development in Africa. The Summit brings together all constituents to broker understanding in order to change perception of the industry, whilst facilitating social and economic development.
The event has a subtitle, “Creating Shared Value.” Can you please discuss the origins of this theme?
RL: In 2013, the theme was ‘Sharing the Profits of the Commodity Boom’. When the event was conceived, in 2012, although mining finance was becoming harder to come by, people still believed that there would be a fast rebound. By June 2013 when we ran the Summit, it was clear that the commodity boom was over. In 2014 we changed the strapline to ‘Creating Shared Value from African Mining’ to reflect the fact that mining needs to create benefit for every stakeholder.
There are a large number of participations from governments to industry players. How is the Summit designed to work?
RL: The Mining On Top: Africa – London Summit is designed to be a meeting place for all participants in African Mining to come together and air contentious issues and areas of potential disagreement in a safe environment, in a bid to move closer to an understanding and resolution.
As an example, last year a representative from the UN Economic Commission for Africa sat on a panel beside the CEO of a junior mining exploration company. The UN representative made a remark that major mining companies were realising the need to work sustainably and responsibly within the communities that they have projects, the problem comes with junior mining companies. The CEO of the junior explorer responded by explaining that actually, a junior mining company has to act responsibly as without local buy-in they will be unable to achieve anything.
Why would you hold a conference focused on African mining in London?
RL: London is one of the leading capitals of the world for mining finance and home to some of the world’s top mining companies. Additionally, there has always been a strong connection between London and Africa and many of the international flights to Africa route via London so it is a centre that many people travel through. The UK has a shared history with many African countries and is the home of the Commonwealth. Since we are a partner with the Commonwealth Business Council in running the event, holding the conference in London also made sense. Lastly, we decided that it was better to hold the event in a neutral location, rather than in an African country. Of course an added bonus is that people are always happy to come to London in June!
There are many important meetings taking place as part of the Summit. What are some of the highlights?
RL: This year we will have 13 African Ministries represented from across the continent. We have senior executives from a range of mining companies including Tom Albanese, the new CEO of Vedanta Resources, and Clive Newall, the Chairman of First Quantum Minerals.
We also have several senior investment companies such as the IFC, Citadel Capital and BlackRock as well as civil society organisations like PWYP, WWF and Africare taking part, to ensure that diverse views are represented.
The 2013 Summit was such a success. What will you be planning to do differently in 2014?
RL: Last year we closed the Summit with a session focused on the infrastructure required to support mining expansion in Africa. There was lively debate about the role of infrastructure in development, funding and ownership and it became clear that infrastructure is a key issue requiring a much deeper focus. As a result in 2014 we are focusing a whole day on how mining infrastructure can support or limit development and how multi-user solutions can be developed, funded and maintained.
Can you please give us a sense of who will attend the Summit?
RL: Everyone involved in African Mining attends the Summit in order to network with, learn from each other and do business. The delegates are diverse, ranging from government to civil society, investors to think tanks, of course mining companies and interested people from the diaspora as well as visitors from the continent.
This interview was conducted as part of the research conducted on African mining jurisdictions by Global Business Reports (GBR) as part of our partnership with African Mining Indaba LLC. The aim of this partnership is the production of the single most comprehensive intelligence report on the continent’s mineral sector. The Second Official Mining in Africa Country Investment Guide, will be launched next February 2015, as the only official publication providing country-specific information at Africa’s top mining event, the 2015 Investing in Africa Mining Indaba™ held in Cape Town, South Africa. You can view the 2014 Official Mining in Africa Country Investment Guide here