Mining executives, investors and government ministers are meeting in drought-hit Cape Town for the African Mining Indaba, the continent’s biggest gathering of one of its most vital industries.
Recent multiyear highs for many commodities have the world’s biggest miners swimming in cash and new demand from electric vehicles mean once-overlooked metals like lithium and cobalt are grabbing the spotlight.
But it’s not all blue skies, as the industry grapples with regulatory changes and uncertainty in countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania, as well as host South Africa.
Here are the latest developments, updated throughout the day. (Time-stamps are local time in Cape Town.)
Mining Culture Needs to Be ‘Less Alpha Male’ (11:18a.m.)
The mining industry’s culture needs to become “less alpha male” and has a long way to go to create a workplace that includes women, said Mike Fraser, president and chief operating officer for Africa at Perth-based South32 Ltd.
From safety gear to facilities, the sector often doesn’t cater enough for women, he said. “Those kinds of conversations, whilst they are now emerging to the surface, are probably 20, 30, 40 years too late and I would say there’s still a significant amount of work we have to do.”
Ownership of South32’s South African energy-coal business will go beyond the government’s minimum requirements on black empowerment, Fraser said.
Rio’s Mines of the Future (10:45 a.m.)
Here’s a glimpse into how the world’s number two miner sees the future. Rio Tinto Group’s Bold Baatar, head of energy and minerals, said the company will be competing with the likes of Facebook Inc. and Google for workers as mining automation increases. Currently, two-thirds of Rio’s engineers are miners, but within a decade that number will be halved, he said.
He also echoed a popular point from the industry: governments often have too high expectations for the money to be made from mines and don’t factor in the costs.