Eating fried eggs, cherry tomatoes, chicken livers and chorizo on a fluffy fresh ciabatta with an espresso and juice, looking out over the canals into the harbour and bathing in the sun, you could quite easily forget where you were. With well dressed and attentive staff waving at shiny silver Mercedes and blacked out SUVs as they rolled by collecting suited company CEOs and government officials, it was all very surreal.
We were in fact fenced off from Cape Town, with a reasonable security presence and bans on the protests that had proceeded the event last year. As much as we will try to focus on the fantastic conference centre and company displays, it would be immoral not to mention the woman in ragged clothing who shyly fished my cigarette end out of the bin and the carpet of homeless people scratching for boxes to sit on and begging at interchanges. Cape Town itself was not invited to the Indaba and, only this year was an agreement reached with the Alternative Indaba, hopefully paving a route for greater cooperation and participation of community groups and NGOs in the formal Indaba next year, which was sorely lacking in this year’s event.
The Indaba meeting itself was somewhat comparable to the AME Round-Up in size and attendance, without being anything like the Round-Up at all. It was bigger, louder, more colourful and overall more entertaining to be at. Lets say, it was more African (surprise, surprise).
On top of our regular meetings and engagements, MiningIR visited workshops on Battery Metals, met industry experts in uranium, dabbled with the world’s first primary zircon mining project and debated the potential use of Blockchain for securing certified child labour and environmentally sustainable resources, we did as much as we could and still managed to miss the majority of the conference. It was a big event to cover!
Most African governments had a delegation from their geological survey, showcasing new deposits. We had really positive meetings with representatives from Nigeria and Mozambique about their goals in 2018 and new upcoming projects. Mozambique’s agencies were pushing their placer deposits, sourced from the northern borders, but concentrated in central rivers. Nigeria had a much broader approach including hydrocarbons and exploiting their bedrock gold and diamond potential. All were looking for investment and industry, with government backing.
The British and Canadian governments sponsored flashy stands, the British one handing out whiskey and blowing bagpipes, little more than a novelty for the expats gathered around. The stand showcased a few interesting tech and aviation companies, but unfortunately, on this global stage, the British stand advertised how little the nation has in terms of industry, being outshone entirely by the Canadian neighbours who had a solid range of mining and technical services and financial institutions on display, and a coffee machine.
In contrast to the services promoted by the Canadians and Brits, the French and German agencies had stalls with great geological exhibits on their mapping and academic development works across the continent and Mining Finland chose to exhibit an exciting range of mining technology companies. Our favourite from the Fins being Sleipner, who have developed a staggeringly simple but effective solution for moving large tracked mining equipment. Take a look HERE. MiningIR also spent some time with the Venezuelan Desarollo Minero, the full interview can be found HERE.
For the major and intermediate miners it was mostly an excuse to show off and have some fun with investors, big booths, flowing champagne and tall dark ladies struggling on impracticle heels to hold large rock samples (A pop quiz on the mineralogy of the samples confirmed they were not geologists!) which was a lot of fun to join in with. Gecamines brought a stunning textbook standard set of samples from their Congolese deposits and we exchanged plans to steal them over a glass of bubbly, wondering if the gold enriched gossan would be too big for our ruckacks.
For the Juniors it was a mixed event. The investment battlefield where companies went head to head to sell and promote their projects was very entertaining and the junior stage was standing room only for most of the week, great exposure to those who could make it in to speak. For anybody seeking personal meetings or more casual wandering around booths, the offering was limited, junior booths were off limits for most of the day and we received no replies using the Indaba meeting organiser tool.
Overall, we had a fantastic time, if we join hands with the Indaba organisers in building a mental fence of ignorance from the development issues and wealth gap South Africa has, and focus on the mining displays, nobody put a foot wrong. A challenging and engaging set of talks, an enjoyable show from the exhibitors and a good atmosphere.
We offer applause and thanks to Standard Bank for sponsoring everybody’s bar tab, the government of the DRC for waking us up at 6am for breakfast debates between industry and government and to the teams from Sleipner (Finland), GHS (Germany), Ma’Aden (Saudi Arabia) and SonicSampDrill (Netherlands) for great company as we wandered around the exhibits in search of decent coffee.
Thanks Indaba, we’ll see you again next year!
Photography on location by Martin Giger, editing by Teejo.nl
We offer personal thanks to Jeneth Ndlovu from RASC for her excellent communication before the event and for greeting us with a smile and making us feel welcome in the press lounge throughout.