A water shortage, a stock market wobble and significant political change – this year’s Mining Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa’s tourism capital, could have been challenging. The drought-hit City, where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet, is still facing the reality of its taps running dry, a worry that overhung the whole conference.
Elsewhere, the level of concern among the major mining companies in reaction to the substantial changes to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) mining code was something I was previously unaware of. The new rules in the resource-rich nation will see royalties on copper, cobalt and gold rise – an understandably unwelcome change for the big players in that jurisdiction.
Worries also seemed to grow in our corner of Cape Town as the week went on and the European equity markets caught a trans-Atlantic cold from the Dow Jones, which dropped more than 1,000 points last Thursday. My fellow attendees, many of whom represent private or small-cap companies, did not talk about the wobble that much, but I got a sense they were well-aware of the issue.
On the upside, the political landscape around Africa has become much more positive, with welcome developments in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Angola. As an African-centric conference, there was a palpable sense that the industry’s future outlook was brighter. I was also pleasantly surprise by the myriad of opportunities in Uganda, where copper and cobalt mining is seeing a resurgence. The East African country also has potential when it comes to lithium, another commodity linked to the ongoing Electric Vehicle revolution.