Monday, 14 February 2011

Dragon's Breath at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town

MMS attended the Mining Indaba in Cape Town this week (7 – 11 February). The Indaba is essentially a mining finance conference along the lines of PDAC, Mines & Money, Diggers & Dealers etc. in other countries, but focused on Africa.  Presentations are generally split between economic/finance and mining company presentations. The accompanying exhibition is again split between mining companies promoting their company and projects and service companies looking for business from mining companies. In amongst all these are the normal government agencies and NGO’s plying their trade.
Mineweb's Jan Chadwick & Lawrie Williams showing of their website on an iPad

MMS attendance is aimed at influencing senior executives with suitable projects in an early stage in directing their technical staff and consultants towards the commercial benefits of investigating state of the art technology.  We find this has to be relayed “top down” as well as from the “bottom up” to get any acknowledgement. In addition the consultants and engineers who generally undertake the scoping studies and prefeasibility studies where flowsheet decisions are already set need to be fully versed with the technology. We certainly don’t expect them to recommend new technology but we want them to know about it so they can at least not look surprised in front of the mining company!
The 2011 Indaba was one of the biggest with over 5000 registered delegates. As always with these things there was as much business done outside the conference in the many cocktail parties and events as there was in the Cape Town convention centre. As for outcomes; you couldn’t fail to notice the huge potential for new gold and iron ore operations in West Africa. From the economists what we could gather was that high metals prices were here for the foreseeable future. One Keynote Address we attended given by James Turk of GoldMoney claimed that gold was again going to be the standard that all currency was based on (without government’s ability to just print more) and that gold would be USD8000/oz in the near future. I had to check with others that I heard that number correctly!  He had all the historical charts and figures to back up his predictions. Now that would be an interesting price. I think we will be out mining for gold in Wales again.
Another area highlighted by the conference was the acknowledgement of responsibilities to the environment and sustainability by mining companies. Well, they doffed their hat to it anyway. There was a lot of interest in our low cost cyanide destruction process (soon to be commissioned at Randgold Resources new Tongon operation in the Ivory Coast). Also the legacy of Acid Mine Drainage from operations, which is highlighted by what is currently happening in the mined out Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.
Maelgwyn Mineral Services Africa Technical Director - Adrian Singh together with Ian Townsend of Outotec enjoying a glass of Cape wine after a long day at the conference.

We got to talk to a large number of mining executives who had potential sulphide gold projects or projects involving flotation. To be fair, they just about all listened to what we had to say and some even took notes when we outlined the cost benefits. We also had some really good discussions with the engineering and consulting companies present. So lots to follow up on in the coming weeks.