Ed's letter

Making lemonade out of lemons


Welcome to another edition of Mining Prospectus, coming to you after a turbulent opening to 2016, involving more negative news than good. The Mining Indaba had a rather sombre feel this year, and was relatively sparsely attended.

In years gone by you could hardly walk down the wide passages of the Cape Town International Convention Centre without bumping into somebody. Getting a table at lunch was near impossible, while exhibitor stands overflowed into the lobby and space was maxed out at a premium.

This was not the case this year, which had its pros and cons. I quite liked being able to walk around freely, getting easily seated for key speakers and generally having more breathing space.

The sparse numbers do represent the cutting back of mining’s spend globally, as the entire industry re-defines key aspects of marketing spend and travel allowances. The organisers have spiked up the prices in recent years too, which in combination with the slump, has made some companies cautious.

However, as one person said, what you are left with are the companies and people who really want to be there which means you can have deeper conversations, and connect better. In any event the Indaba is here to stay, just in a re-configured format.

In terms of outlook for 2017, all the pundits I spoke to agreed that it was unlikely to be any better with labour negotiations once again at the fore, legal issues and commodity price uncertainly.

It is forecast that 2017 will be the year when mining picks up again, but some hard decisions are being made along the way, as workforces need to become more highly skilled and mechanised to stay internationally competitive. In the long run it will prolong the lifespan and sustainability of mining.

The development of skills outside the mines are critical in mining areas, as all mines eventually close, leaving a huge skills gap for transitional occupations. Agriculture and energy production on old mines are prime examples of making the most of the land.

In this edition of Mining Prospectus you’ll hear from all the movers and shakers who attended the 2016 Mining Indaba, on the key topics of mine closure, red tape, jobs, beneficiation and new opportunities to name just a few.



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This edition

Issue 42