“Digital was good but a live event is for everyone”
“There is no doubt that the DRC’s mining sector will have a solid year in 2021 and the mining community is ready and looking forward to gathering in Lubumbashi from 15-17 June for the annual DRC Mining Week expo and conference.”
This is according to Emmanuelle Nicholls, the Group Director, Mining and Natural Resources at Clarion Events Africa, who have been the organisers of DRC Mining Week for the last 16 years.
She adds: “DRC’s mining sector did well to cope with and address many of the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic presented, and as always, the extractives community proved resilient and innovative. Going forward, with the prices of key commodities such as copper, cobalt and gold, doing well, the outlook is good and we will have a lot to talk about in the run-up to and during the event!”
Cobalt is primarily used in lithium-ion batteries and in the manufacture of magnetic, wear-resistant and high-strength alloys. The DRC hosts 70% of the world’s cobalt resources.
Nicholls: “During this year it has also become abundantly clear that mining groups and off-takers alike are starting to take seriously the global movement towards responsible mining by pro-actively reaching out to the local communities to improve conditions and support social development.”
Once such example is the support by the Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) for the ‘Children out of Mining-Northern Kolwezi’ programme, an initiative carried out by international development organisation, Pact, in the Kolwezi region in the south of the DRC where ERG’s Metalkol RTR project is located.
The German car manufacturer VW also recently joined the ‘Cobalt Alliance for the DRC’ initiative as part of its efforts to improve artisanal cobalt mining conditions in this central African mining hub and to develop health and safety conditions by promoting better mine site management and environmental training for miners, starting with 12 artisanal cobalt cooperatives, also in and around Kolwezi.
“Tesla’s deal with Glencore to supply the company with cobalt also indicates that DRC will be in the spotlight for many years to come as a mining destination for strategic minerals and metals” says Nicholls. Earlier in the year, Glencore also signed a 5-year copper supply deal with Samsung.
Safety and security important themes
“Safety and security will be important themes for our sessions as well as how we will look after our guests at the upcoming DRC Mining Week expo and conference in Lubumbashi in June 2021” says Nicholls. “Attendees can expect to attend and participate in up-to-date and relevant sessions, meeting the mining pioneers and partners that we have become known for during the last 16 years.”
The programme will offer various activities for the delegates, with an important focus on responsible mining, while also taking anti-COVID measures onsite very seriously to make the experience a safe, yet, valuable one.
“We have missed being onsite” says Nicholls, “and many of our clients and partners have echoed that sentiment, although everyone had to adapt.”
The event was postponed twice during 2020 due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
“However, the disruption caused by COVID-19 accelerated the change that was bound to happen with the emergence of the digital world,” notes Nicholls. “It is now part of most people’s lives and is part of our future. Given the number of people that participated in our digital event in June 2020 and at our webinars during the course of the year, the mind shift was a positive one, the uptake was good and people have embraced the shift.
“We all had to learn new skills and polish others. Moreover, we have been able to reach a new audience that would not necessarily travel to the DRC but is excited about the investment and trade opportunity, the mining sector offers.”
“My only regret” says Nicholls, “is that unfortunately the digital activities do not always allow miners and other stakeholders in remote places to connect onto the platforms. It was impressive how everyone embraced going digital, despite the technical and connectivity problems at times, but one has to be realistic about reaching everyone, and DRC Mining Week has always offered something for everyone in the mining value chain.
“This is why our live event will be back in 2021 so no one is left out and everyone involved in mining in the DRC can touch base with all industry players.”
Returning to Karavia Hotel
DRC Mining Week will take place from 15 – 17 June 2021 at the Karavia Hotel in Lubumbashi 2021. “We will bring back the connections, interaction and the knowledge base that we have been offering since 2004, as well as the laughter and the fun that we have become famous for!” smiles Nicholls.
“Next year the event will gather over 3500 participants – fewer than we hosted in 2019, but this is due to the social distancing restrictions we have to comply with. Our 230 exhibitors cannot wait to be back and to do business on the expo floor – among them our diamond plus sponsors: Orange, Standard Bank as well as our international pavilions.
“We are already 80% sold out, a number we are really proud of. It shows that trust that our partners have in our event and we plan to live up to that trust.
“While the conference will welcome 400 delegates over two and a half days to engage on topics such as policy and regulation, trade and collaboration, power and infrastructure, industrialisation, safety and security, artisanal mining, women in mining, beneficiation and technologies, our numerous functions will take place in a controlled environment, and a golf day has been organised in partnership with ComexAfrica. Additionally, 2021 will see the first of its kind speed dating between mining companies and exhibitors.”
Digital will continue
In the run-up to the next live, in-person event in Lubumbashi, the organisers are also developing another series of free but exclusive digital engagements, in French and in English, that will take place throughout the course of the year.
“This will complement the live event and continue to allow us to reach out to new audiences,” Nicholls explains.
Standard Bank’s lessons
The banking giant Standard Bank has been a longstanding business partner in the mining sector of the DRC and is the returning diamond plus sponsor of DRC Mining Week in 2021.
Amedeo Anniciello is the Chief Executive of the bank in the DRC: “We learnt many lessons in the course of the pandemic. We learned the importance of remaining vigilant and adhering to guidelines that were set to protect our people, our loved ones, our clients and our communities.
“This pandemic has also shown us that we can work quickly and effectively together for the common good. Armed with this knowledge, and with the new capacities we have built together over this difficult year, we will undoubtedly not only recover from the pandemic, but emerge stronger.”
According to Anniciello, DRC will remain an important destination: “With an estimated value of $24 trillion in mineral resources, mining will continue to be a significant contributor to the growth of the country. The ore grades are very high, and the yields are very good, so, for mining companies, there are huge significant returns to be made in the DRC. That said, economic flux, regulatory concerns, unpredictable commodity prices, access to energy and water, costs and productivity, make the mining sector both challenging and unpredictable.
“We understand that mining is a specialised sector that needs specific expertise. That is why our specialised team on the ground, with the expertise in the mining sector, provides the support and in-depth sector insight into what matters most to businesses operating in the mining sector value chain.”
The Standard Bank CE adds: “The DRC Mining week is a valuable conference for Standard Bank. As the diamond plus sponsor of the event, our main goal is to foster a platform that brings together the industry, investors and government leaders from across the globe.
“Over the years, we have seen a significant progress in the number of participants and the attention towards the industry. Through this sponsorship, we are reinforcing our commitment to support DRC’s growth and we are confident that the mining industry will continue to play an important role in the development of our economy.”
“Always been a big supporter of the DRC”
These positive sentiments were echoed this week during a well-attended webinar on the A-Z of doing business in the DRC in collaboration with media partner Mining Review Africa.
“I’ve always been a big supporter of the DRC,” said Eric Bruggeman, CEO of the South African Capital Equipment Export Council, (SACEEC), a regular participant at the Lubumbashi expo.
“The country offers loads of opportunities, many of our members have opened offices there. South African mining technology exports into DRC are in excess of R11-billion per year.
“Transportation to the DRC has always been difficult but that is just part of the cost of doing business. You need to understand what the country is all about.
His advice to prospective investors and specialist mining suppliers who are interested in doing business in the Copperbelt and surrounds is to: “Do your homework, do your research. You need to be competitive and have a product that the mine wants. You also have to be willing to invest or form a partnership locally.”
John Kanyoni, Vice President, Chamber of Mines of the DRC said that the “DRC has the largest potential in Africa in terms of mining wealth. There are enormous opportunities despite challenges with power and we are still extremely competitive despite the new mining law of 2018.
“Several mining companies are investing in energy projects to meet the growing industrial demand. Energy is also being imported from neighbouring countries.”
“Bring your own infrastructure”
“You cannot do business in DRC via remote control. You need boots on the ground,” says Olebogeng Sentsho, CEO of the Ayana Group and an active investor in DRC mining industry. “A great deal of your credibility will come from the community where you are starting your business. And stick to what you are good at.”
Olebogeng also touched on the issue of responsible mining: “The DRC is no longer open to be pillaged. You have to invest in the local community where you are doing business. In Africa we say: BYOI, bring your own infrastructure.”
DRC Mining Week is organised by Clarion Events Africa, a leading Cape Town-based and multi-award winning organiser of exhibitions and conferences across the continent in the infrastructure, energy and mining sectors. Other well-known events by Clarion Events Africa include Enlit Africa (formerly African Utility Week & POWERGEN Africa), Africa Mining Forum, Nigeria Mining Week, Future Energy East Africa and Future Energy Nigeria. The company is part of the UK-based Clarion Events Group.
DRC Mining Week dates and location:
Webinar series (online): Until May 2021
Keynote opening session: 15 June 2021
Expo and conference: 15-17 June 2021
Location: The Pullman Grand Karavia Hotel, Lubumbashi, DRC
Senior communications manager: Annemarie Roodbol
Office: +27 21 700 3558