Africa’s quest for international investment support moves to Australia this week. Mines ministers and corporate leaders are converging in Western Australia for the annual Africa Downunder conference in Perth. The three-day conference is the world’s largest business forum on Africa and will start on Wednesday with an official opening from the mining state’s premier Mark McGowan.
Fourteen African mines ministers will attend and address delegates whose number is expected to swell to about 1500. A number of issues will be brought into focus during the annual event.
Among these, increasing security concerns on the continent, opportunities for women to participate in the continent’s mining future and the role Australian miners can play in Africa’s development, including in other industries such as agriculture.
As I have been saying in recent times, there is a place in Africa for foreign investment and knowledge support.
Paydirt executive chairman Bill Repard, whose company puts on Africa Downunder, flagged the importance of funding to junior companies when speaking about the conference’s agenda this year.
“Despite the ASX enjoying record levels of late, junior miners continue to struggle to attract funding from their traditional sources,” he said.
“Alternative options are increasing, particularly among streaming and royalty companies whose financing packages are proving popular in North and South America but are yet to take hold among Africa or Australia’s resources sectors.”
Merger & acquisition activity is a way forward for mining juniors but so is funding from bigger miners.
Repard said, “An emerging source for juniors amid strong commodity prices is to tap larger mining companies which have cash inflows from production but which value the better and lower risk exploration and development skillsets of the smaller industry players in adding to mineable resource volumes.”
The chairman, whose company has attracted many Australian Securities Exchange-listed companies focused on Africa to its event, pointed to other markets besides the ASX as potential funding sources.
Repard said, “There remain equity market interest and capital access out of London for African explorers and miners, despite the broader Brexit environment.”
European Union and US-China market uncertainties are certainly affecting global markets, but financier appetites for a good project are not waning.
At least three Australian-owned gold operations in Africa are expected to achieve steady-state production in the next six months, with others in the pipeline.
Repard is hopeful, “After a string of failures in the Australian gold space, project execution has become paramount in Africa for Australian players there, underpinned by enhanced contingency planning to better manage Africa’s geopolitical, logistics and community variables.”
Africa Downunder participants will be responding to challenges with a welcome focus on how the two regions can develop a deeper economic engagement.
METS (Mining Equipment, Technology and Services) leaders will front the conference and take part in ambassadorial meetings, as mines ministers and various country delegations take up an opportunity to welcome new business.
Conferences such as Africa Downunder are a great opportunity for Africa to attract new funds to its borders and encourage renewed regional growth that could benefit us all.
- Yolanda Torrisi is Chairperson of The African Mining Network and comments on African mining issues and the growing global interest in the continent. Contact: email@example.com