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Alphamin’s Boris Kamstra on transformation of Walikale

Exclusive interview with Boris Kamstra, Director at Alphamin Resources Corp. He is an event ambassador and will also take part in a panel discussion at the upcoming DRC Mining Week’s on: “Finance your project in the DRC: The usual suspects vs. alternative financing”.

Thank you for this opportunity, please tell us more about your organisation and the work that you do in the mining industry. There is a proud history there.

I wear two hats, one of which is Pangea which serves as Denham Capital’s Africa investment arm, and the other is Alphamin Resources. At Pangea we identified Alphamin as a potential investment which we made in Dec 2013, it is now a profitable tin producer. I had the honour of being the CEO of Alphamin up to the completion of commissioning the mine and processing plant, when I stepped down as CEO though I remain on the board.

What in your view do you regard as the highlights for DRC’s mining sector and community during this past year?

This past year has been tough on all miners, as some buoyancy was returning this has been undermined by Corona virus. Highlight’s for me were the peaceful elections both Nationally and Provincially. The smooth transition of power was vital for investor confidence in the DRC.

Slightly closer to home was the culmination of a number of years effort by the best mine development team with the commissioning of Alphamin’s mine in North Kivu.

Is there a particular project/success story that you have been involved in that you are particularly proud of? Tell us how it changed lives…

Ahhh .. . .this is a bit of a setup, as I am totally biased here. The development of Alphamin’s mine has transformed the Walikale territory and to an extent that of North Kivu. We have seen material changes in many aspects of life for our hosts in the Walikale territory, governance, security, employment and economic activities, communications, road infrastructure, banking – Walikale now has an autocash machine and will soon have a second. The spirit, drive dedication to acquire new skills and hospitality of our hosts has been a material component to our success. When this was combined with those of the complete Alphamin team a miracle was the result.

However, probably more so than the successful commissioning and operation of the mine, is the team’s ability to assess and overcome every challenge that has been laid down for us. The challenges we have faced receive a lot of attention, but there is little focus on the fact that we are still operating profitably. This can only be achieved by a team of extraordinary people. It gives me great joy to see men who were once manual labourers now sitting behind a wall of computer screens as efficient plant control room operators to name but one example. 

What in your view are the main challenges in the industry for 2020.

2020 started quite well and has now been torpedoed by the Coronavirus. It is hard to forecast how long the virus’ dire impact on metal prices and stock markets will endure. I think the main challenge for all of us will be to keep our operations heads above water until the dust settles.

And what opportunities in the DRC mining sector are you most excited about currently?

Again I am being somewhat biased, the mine we built at Alphamin is just the start of a far larger operation. This will begin to take shape this year and start to show itself in the next few years.

Further South, Ivanhoe is always exciting to watch. Two new large copper mines in the DRC will be very exciting.

What is your vision for the sector?

I would like the sector to take its rightful place as a valued corporate citizen of the DRC. Often this is not happening due to us being miners and are best at keeping our heads down and just getting one with it, and not engaging sufficiently with all of our constituents both to hear their concerns and to educate them as to our contributions whilst collectively exploring further opportunities to incorporate our operations and additional local opportunities.

Looking ahead to 2020, what is on your calendar that you can share with us?

At the moment my calender is focused on assisting the Alphamin team keep an even keel in these turbulent times.

What surprises or delights you most about this sector?

Mining provides the foundation for the discovery of extraordinary capabilities in what to the eye are ordinary people! Mining is also the ultimate pioneering industry bringing improved logistics, communications, widespread economic activity and improvements in governance.

What is your message to current and future investors in DRC’s mining sector?

The DRC has to be the world’s greatest treasure trove of undiscovered minerals at grades the rest of the world can only dream of. This wealth is only surpassed by the capacity of the people of the DRC. The DRC does have its challenges, however, the rewards are there to mitigate these.

DRC Mining Week celebrated 15 years of gathering the mining community in the country last year.  Why would you consider it valuable to attend DRC Mining Week?

I believe that DRC Mining Week is a valuable opportunity to listen to the leaders of the industry and those that guide it. It is also a forum where one can discover new potential suppliers and partners.

What will be your message at the event this year?

My message will be for us to take note of the state of the world, but to remember that these situations seldom last. Keep a tight ship, which will stand you in good stead for when things recover.

Annemarie Roodbolhttp://www.miningreview.com
Annemarie Roodbol is a communications practitioner based in Cape Town.