A Mining Indaba may sound so obscure in the minds of many Ghanaians. For the past 25 years this unique and extraordinary conference has been organized in Cape Town, the beautiful resort tourist and legislative capital of the Rainbow Nation, South Africa.
The Africa Mining Indaba is the world’s largest mining Investment Conference and Exhibition event. It is dedicated to the successful capitalisation and development of mining interests in Africa, and serves as an assemblage of investor moguls, mining companies, governments, diplomatic community, the media and other stakeholders from around the globe to learn and network toward advancing mining on the continent. The Mining Indaba is also dedicated in solving educational, infrastructural development on the African continent, and careerism as well as sustainable development in Africa.
Guest Speaker (2019)
Realising the commitment to sustainable mining in his home country, Ghana, the organisers of Mining Indaba in collaboration with the government of South Africa agreed to invite H.E. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo as the Guest Speaker for this year’s event. The ‘Show Boy’ of contemporary Ghana politics didn’t disappoint. He was in full flight and the packed to capacity auditorium, with others watching on large screens within the exhibition hall, applauded in unison the ‘straight-to-the point’ address.
He said: “With so many minerals, it’s not surprising that mining has always played an important role in our lives. For centuries our minerals have been the attraction for foreign adventurers, enriching their monarchs and aristocrats”. He continued: “The pursuit of gold and other minerals has reduced many of our forests, degraded lands; and turned some of our rivers into polluted water-bodies, while diamonds from our land are now labelled ‘blood -diamonds’.’’ He lamented the African continent’s irony – even though so rich in minerals, it yet remains the most deprived area in the world.
It is the fervent hope of Ghana’s president that foreign investors with their technology must be conscientious in their contracts with African governments and mining communities, since the mineral deposits belong to the people of Africa and there must be a win-win situation to satisfy all mankind. He opined that Africans need not to be poor for foreigners to be rich. The president also announced the setting-up of the Ghana Integrated Aluminium Development Corporation as well as the Ghana Integrated Iron and Steel Development Corporation, which with appropriate investors will exploit the large bauxite and iron-ore deposits respectively.
Ramaphosa’s 10 Mining Commandments
For the first time in the history of Mining Indaba, a sitting President in South-Africa graced the event. The South African leader, the business-friendly Cyril Ramaphosa, issued a 10- point recommendation to the mining investment community that will accrue to the benefit of the African people – who are the true and legitimate owners of the mineral resources in the bowels of the continent.
They were as follows:
- That there is a need to sign genuine mining contracts to restore confidence in the relationships between governments, foreign investors, trade unions, and mining communities.
- That foreign investors and mining companies must forge partnerships with local governments in their area of mining operations.
- That there’s a need for mining companies to restore, secure and ensure energy sustainability of the mining industry and mining communities.
- That mining companies must boost the property rights of both their investors and the people within mining communities.
- That mining companies must invest in housing in the mining communities for miners and their families.
- That Investors must invest in capacity building for all mine-workers.
- That mining companies must safeguard the health needs of all mine-workers and their families.
- That mining companies must safeguard the safety and personal security of mine-workers and mining communities.
- That mining companies must encourage mine-workers to become shareholders in their companies.
- That Investors must de-politicise mining operations to prevent unrest in the various wards prior to municipal, provincial and national elections.
It is the view of this writer that these ‘commandments’ may not exclusively be conducive for South-Africa, but are equally relevant to all countries on the continent.
The presence of the world’s large-scale mining companies was equally felt, with Newmont being exceptional. The Executive Vice-President-Sustainability and External Relations of Newmont, Mrs. Elaine Doward-King, in a progressive statement noted that Newmont can partner African governments to achieve goals on sustainable mining.
She assured that taxes and royalties from gold-mining will to be re-invested in local communities as part of corporate social responsibilities: e.g. building schools, hospitals and other infrastructural projects which can even create investments in mining communities.
Chamber of Mines
The Chief Executive Officer of Ghana’s Chamber of Mines, who doubles as Executive Director of ECOWAS Chamber of Mines, was also exceptional in his delivery at a forum organised by the African Development Bank on the topic ‘Mineral Value Chains for Africa’s Development’. Mr. Souleyman Konney stated that African government need to get the optimum value from gold mining, but unfortunately lack of technology and technological know-how as well managerial skill in the mining space have deprived the continent from maximising profits to the fullest.
Citing the unfortunate situation in Guinea which has the world’s largest Bauxite deposit, Mr. Konney said Guinea needs vigorous infrastructural development – especially in the area of energy supply, which needs an expensive and extensive capital injection in the exploratory chain.
He called for all governments on the continent to invest in energy so as to ensure a win-win situation with the foreign investment community. He also called for value-addition to all minerals explored and possibly expand their market, especially in the West Africa sub-region.
For the benefit of the uninitiated, this writer would like to give a brief roll-call of some selected minerals on the African continent, the country of origin as well as their uses:
- Gold: South-Africa, Ghana, others (boosts country’s foreign reserve/used for ornament etc.)
- Diamond: Liberia, Ghana, others – (wrist-watches etc.)
- Bauxite: Guinea, Ghana, others – (aluminuum products etc.)
- Uranium: Namibia, Botswana, others – (arms & fuel etc.)
- Coltan: Congo D.R., Rwanda, others – (cell-phones etc.)
- Lithium: Ghana, Guinea, others – (Car Batteries etc.)
- Limestone: Ghana, Guinea, others – (Cement products etc.)
- Salt: Ghana, Nigeria, others – (Caustic soda for pharmaceutical industry etc.)
Revelations were made in various deliberations at the Mining Indaba on the illegal mining menace. It is estimated that South Africa annually loses an amount of US$41million (2017 figure) to illegal mining – popularly referred to as ‘galamsey’ in Ghana. So, the story is bad in Nigeria, Sierra-Leone, Liberia – and worst in Congo D.R.
In an interaction with a cross-section of South-African journalists at the Waterfront Resort Centre in an evening rendezvous, these were their remarks in uniformity:
‘’Your president in Ghana is a very progressive leader. He is committed to the fight against illegal mining, ably backed by the Ghanaian media. You people are doing a fantastic job in Ghana to save the land for future generations. Over here in South Africa, our leaders do not care about the spate of illegalities in several mining communities; thus, they condone destruction of our land. The South African media are also not making any noise about the degradation. In the not too distant future, our government will regret its inaction and docility’’.
Fellow compatriots, we need to doff our hats to the tenacity of the ‘Media Coalition Against Galamsey’ in its relentless fight against the illegal mining menace that is a threat to our lands, rivers, forests and general environment.
The writer is the Executive Secretary/ Ag. President of the Private Newspaper Publishers Association of Ghana (PRINPAG) and Rapporteur General, Media Coalition Against Galamsey in Ghana. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org. Cell phone:0244 664 556.