In celebration of the Investing in African Mining Indaba’s 30th birthday, Laura Cornish spoke to Craig Sisterson about how the event is evolving to ensure it meets the needs of a sector that is undergoing significant change.
Mining Indaba is approaching its content and position with greater force than ever before, encouraging the mining industry to dig deeper to uncover widespread solutions to existing challenges within the sector, says Laura Cornish of Hyve Plc.
“This year we’ve restructured and expanded our advisory board with subcommittees in a number of focused areas, including leadership, sustainability, technology, finance & investment, governance & policy, junior mining and academics,” explained Cornish, Head of Content at Mining Indaba. “Our theme for 2024 is Embracing the power of positive disruption: A bold new future for African mining.”
The board and subcommittees are assembled from captains of industry and top experts who debate critical industry issues and ensure they’re presented and discussed at Mining Indaba.
Since it began in 1994, Mining Indaba has helped attract billions of dollars of foreign investment into the African sector and has worked to facilitate improved government policies and regulatory frameworks. It has also built a platform for mining professionals to network and learn, facilitated discussions and enabled the adoption of sustainable practices, and put additional focus on promoting the empowerment of women in the sector, through improved diversity across the spectrum.
The event has grown from a single plenary session focused on investment, to multiple content streams and special sessions to address various topics of pertinence and unpack solutions that lead to growth areas for the industry.
“Mining Indaba is recognised for bringing together the key African mining industry stakeholders and global players with an interest in Africa – all under one roof,” Cornish said. “We’re able to facilitate meetings and conversations that would likely not otherwise have taken place. Stakeholders are exposed to companies, investors and government officials, and start to build relationships that take their businesses forward.”
More than 800 investors attended the 2023 Indaba in early February, allowing mining companies to make great strides in securing or raising interest in their activities and projects.
“In recent years, Mining Indaba has adapted its approach to reflect the evolving mining landscape and the changing needs of its participants,” noted Cornish, highlighting the expansion of the programme to include ESG issues and the creation of Sustainability Awards to help incentivise mining companies to adopt sustainable practices.
“Mining Indaba has also increased its focus on technology and innovation, recognising the potential of digital solutions to improve efficiency, reduce costs and enhance safety. In 2020, we launched the Investment Battlefield competition, which showcases innovative mining technology startups and provides them with a platform to pitch their ideas to investors.”
While “disruption” is considered a negative word by some, in business it’s positive as it refers to change that brings transformation to an industry, commented Cornish. She believes that next year’s Mining Indaba theme will encourage disruptive conversations that will drive positive outcomes.
“The African mining industry is in the early onset of disruption with regard to technology, health and safety, environment and exploration, regulation, communities and the workforce, to name a few,” Cornish explained. “Through our theme we will support the industry’s current status and vision of embracing change and building momentum to move away from the conservatism of traditional operating practices and become an adopter and leader of systems, technologies and processes that revolutionise the future of the industry.”