Mining with meaning….. Africa and the new frontier of mineral exploration
By Emanuel Gherardi on 27 September 2017
With the Africa Downunder Conference having come to a close last week, the Australian and particularly the Western Australian mining communities have a distinctly African feel at the moment. There’s a genuine excitement about commercial and professional opportunity, the ability to influence outcomes on both small and large scale and the chance to make a real difference for the better, in the life of the continents people.
As a delegate, it was amazing to hear the optimism not just from those already doing business in Africa and those hoping to do business there, but also from Australian government representatives who understand the importance of strengthening ties with the many great countries within Africa.
The relevance of the event was highlighted by the number of high profile attendees from Mark McGowan, the Western Australian premier, Julie Bishop the deputy leader of the Australian Liberal Party as well as Senior representatives from Australia’s most prolific Miners operating in Africa, African Operators and of course the most prestigious ministers of mining from countries such as Mali, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Ethiopia, Cote D’Ivoire and so many more.
With well over 200 Australian Stock Exchange listed businesses operating in Africa across over 600 mining projects it’s not overstating it to say African Mining plays a massive part in Australia’s Mining industry. Other than the commercial attraction for Australian business; in my extensive experience, those that have worked there once, well and truly “have the bug” and love being a part of an exciting environment, with a real “new frontier” feel. New frontier is a queer term to use for one of the earths most ancient lands, but when considering from a resources perspective the reduced utilization of modern mineral exploration proficiencies, exciting times lie ahead.
2017 was the conferences 15th year and the sentiment, confidence and optimism was nothing short of inspiring. The conference, originally a concept to highlight and to raise awareness of our own countries interests in the African Resources industry has now become the largest resources event outside of Africa itself.
Incredible growth has been seen across all African Countries with “population projected to increase in Central and Norther Africa alone from 1.11 billion in 2017 to 2.2 Billion by 2050” …..staggering numbers. There has been a massive increase in growth across almost all of Africa, largely on the back of unparalleled demand for commodities from China and Africa’s ability to service this demand in volume (in time) and cost effectively.
Africa is one of the planets greatest untapped sources of abundance, it’s yet to be explored in a way that nearly every other continent on the planet has, but make no mistake this is rapidly changing. What’s incredibly important and inspiring is the ability for these resources to bring about change, education, skill and a better life for the people of Africa.
What I love most is the opportunity to work closely with African and Australian companies that work to improve community, resources as well as bringing great financial return for individuals and corporate investors alike. What this means is tremendous opportunity for its people, for the organizations that invest in Africa and for governments hoping to develop community and bring about change in education, skill and a better life for all people African and otherwise.
Whilst the event’s continued success is underpinned by the substantial support of African and Australian Government representation; discussion about infrastructure challenges, community engagement and project financing have been enormously interesting. The networking and learning opportunities have been limitless. For people like me, the ability to network, build on my twenty years’ experience in the mining industry and to continue to be involved in working within a region I dearly love has been my biggest driver.
Other than the obvious commercial benefits, I simply find working in Africa a rewarding, challenging and ultimately gratifying. The opportunity to make a difference in communities by training, skilling and ultimately sending quality, highly skilled expatriate workers, with a strong cultural engagement to a mine site where they can train national workforces on industry best practice and then leave the country with a fully trained national Mine Manager to replace them is inspiring….I just don’t think it gets any better than that.
I’d love to hear from any organisations or individuals keen to talk about what they’re seeing out there in the African market place, their challenges and to share any market insights and expertise I can offer.
Of course as a 20 year global talent acquisition and workforce management professional and admittedly one that has caught the “African Mining Bug” himself, I always welcome the opportunity to talk with prospective Australian or African employers and commit to learning about what drives your business, your culture and if required help you identify world leading professionals that will help drive your business from great to exceptional.