MEMSA Chair, Freddy Mugeri, at Mining Indaba

I had the pleasure and privilege representing MEMSA at the 2018 Mining Indaba.  It was a great experience in that the mining industry was well represented by senior people from both private and public sectors in South Africa, SADC, rest of Africa and countries from every continent. Specific countries of interest from outside the African continent were, Australia, Japan, Germany, UK, Canada, and a consolidated delegation from South America, to name a few. The presentations and panel discussions were top class.

It was quite clear that the outcomes of the ANC’s conference in Dec’17 impacted the mood at the Indaba very positively. I managed to chat with Roger Baxter and Tebello Chabana, separately, who confirmed that the CoM was also very positive about the future and the possibility of a better outcome with regards to the Mining charter and other matters.  The key minerals of the future are without doubt, those that will go into clean/renewable energy systems, both static and mobile, which are copper, cobalt, tantalum and lithium.  DRC and Zambia are the key focus areas for these minerals (copper and cobalt) in Africa. The above-mentioned minerals also support the consumption of steel, aluminium, rubber and plastics.

There were definite opportunities for MEMSA in the areas of recruitment, localisations in RSA and in SADC, export opportunities to the rest of Africa, specific project opportunities in RSA and opportunities to test our members’ locally manufactured equipment. Mining in Ghana is advancing very well, according to the representative of the Ghana mining industry and other people I chatted to / listened to. Key activity of interest to our members is gold mining.

For MEMSA, the following were most relevant:

  • Recruitment: Navin Singh’s (CSIR – Mining Precinct) and Shaun Moses’s (DTI) teams helped to generate leads for us from their beautiful stands. It was not an easy show to recruit from because the target audience for the Indaba was not necessarily mining capital goods, but exploration, expansion, funding, industry overview and future, etc.
  • Localisation: This will become one of the key themes in the next Mining Charter. Caterpillar, in response to my question on what they are doing on this subject, said that the low volume nature of mining equipment made it difficult to achieve investment case for greater levels of localization. But they have an R1.3bn local manufacture initiative which they are implementing over a number of years. I suspect that we are likely to see increased local manufacture by the large international OEM in the short to medium term, depending on how the new charter evolves.

All African countries I spoke to have localization ambitions, albeit differences in target levels, intensity and execution. The usual challenges to increased localization and industrialization apply, with country risk being perhaps at the top of the list.

  • SADC collaboration: I had a brief discussion with the CEO of the Botswana Chamber of Mines about MEMSA and our ambitions. He was very excited to hear about what we are doing and told me that they are looking to establish a similar initiative and would welcome further engagement with us with a view of creating a SADC localization market/initiative. I will follow up with him on this matter, following receipt of guidance from our Board and members in our March meetings.
  • Ghana: Presents very good opportunities for our members, which remain largely unexplored by our members.
  • DRC: Well represented by a very senior delegation from the DRC CoM and mining houses. Political risk remains relatively high but opportunities abound. The DTI is arranging a trade mission to the DRC show, to be held in June 2018 (DRC Mining Week).
  • Zambia: Presents good opportunity for exports. No language barriers – English speaking. Also, Paul had further conversations with Nigel (DTI) regarding setting-up of a hub, which he will us give feedback on. The DTI is arranging a trade mission to the DRC show, to be held in June 2018, and applications for support from DTI closes on Monday 26th Feb 2018 (Elizabeth, please confirm). Our members are encouraged to apply and attend as this a huge export opportunity.
  • Ivanhoe – Limpopo project: Ivanhoe is building a mine in the Limpopo province. After I challenged the project manager on his local content, he threw back the challenge at me by inviting MEMSA members to visit his project to see what he is working on and how our members can help him achieve his project ambitions. He is very keen on supporting local content initiatives.
  • Testing of equipment: I challenged a number of mining houses with regards to availing opportunities for our members to test their machines at the mines. I’m glad to report that all the mining houses I spoke to expressed a willingness to help. MEMSA will need to develop a coherent plan of matching members who would like to test equipment, with mines that are most likely to benefit. The CoM would most probably lend a hand on this also.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Tshepiso Kadiaka and her team at the DTI for tangibly supporting our participations at this past Indaba. If we follow-up on the above opportunities, our member will certainly realize value. This Mining Indaba was certainly worth attending and I would suggest that we always make sure MESA is well represented every year.