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Growing engagement of Australian mining and infrastructure investment in sub-Saharan Africa

Conference: iPAD Central Africa
Location: Kinshasa, DRC
Presenter: Greg Hull
Abstract: Presented by Greg Hull at iPAD Central Africa

Australian minerals and energy production represents 8.5% of Australia’s GDP, involves 22% of Australian total capital investment and comprises more than 40% of Australia’s total trade.  Australia is a very significant global producer, leading the World in lead, bauxite, alumina, diamonds (by volume), and a range of mineral sands.  Then second in uranium, zinc and nickel; third in iron ore, lignite, manganese, silver and gold; fourth in coal and copper; and fifth in aluminium. Mining exploration expenditure in Australia has trebled from around A$ 400 billion in 2002 to nearly    A$ 1200 billion by end 2007, where at the same time mineral resource exports form Australia have reached A$ 90.8 billion.  (Sources: Australian Bureau of Statistics; Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource economics and the Minerals Council of Australia)

Despite intense pressure for minerals resource capital and resources to remain at home, Australian companies are active around the globe in exploration, project engineering, processing and equipment and services.   Austrade research has established around 264 wholly or principally owned Australian mining companies operating to some degree internationally.  Austrade data bases have over 1200 Australian equipment and service providers in the industry.

The Australian mining presence in Sub-Saharan Africa is universal but with a particular emphasis in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, DRC, Mozambique, Mali, Ghana, Senegal and Guinea.

Aspect Huntly (2006) indicates there at least 80 mining companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange that are active in Sub-Saharan Africa.  There are probably in excess of 300 Australian equipment and service providers in Sub-Saharan Africa at any one time.  The Lowy Institute estimates Australian minerals investment in Africa exceeds $A 20 billion.  In a globalizing industry such as mining, it should be remembered that ownership is often spread across national boundaries.  So the true account of Australian involvement may be difficult to measure.  Suffice to say Australian minerals exploration in Africa, at around A$ 200 million, is considered to be the third largest after South African and Canadian explorers.  More significantly, Australian mining engineering, technology and services is making a major mark on the landscape of African mining.  We would only expect this level of interest and investment to grow.