While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to African mining operations, the inaugural Africa Mining Forum (AMF) digital event provides the perfect opportunity for key sector players to engage meaningfully with each other over a five-day period.

This is according to Hon. Francis Gatare, CEO of Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board who was speaking at the event’s keynote session held earlier today. Titled The next smart move: COVID-19 recovery plan to stimulate investment into mining exploration in Africa, Gatare was joined in the opening session by a stellar line-up of mining and business experts. This comprised Emma Wade-Smith of the UK Department of Trade, Hubert Danso, CEO and vice-chairman of Africa Investor and veteran mining consultant Sheila Khama who was also the moderator for the session.

According to Gatare, the level of attendance and successful engagement at last year’s East and Central Africa Mining Forum held in Kigali showed that there was a need to scale up the event to a continental level, culminating in a bigger AMF. And while the live event has moved to 2021, Gatare says that the digital event allows for companies to engage with each other without the need for lengthy international travel times and costs.

“AMF 2020 is going to be premium investment platform showcasing the business opportunities in the mining sector and also discussing ways to keep our heads up in the wake of the pandemic. It will deliver a five-day interactive session with content led activities from 12 strategic spotlight sessions including one-on-one sessions, a women in mining session and a ministerial forum,” Gatare stated.

Read: Investment and exploration a key focus at AMF

Collaboration needed

Weighing in on the conversation, Wade-Smith said that the UK Department of Trade’s key goal is to increase trade and investment flows between Africa and the United Kingdom. “Our purpose is to champion economic growth and job creation and increasing sustainable, inclusive and responsible trade and investment and mining is absolutely pivotal to this strategy,” she stated. She further believes that COVID-19 is accelerating innovation and sustainability in the mining sector.

Meanwhile, Danso added that the continent’s potential to be a global mining investment haven cannot be disputed given its mineral wealth. “This includes 90% of the world’s platinum and cobalt supply, 50% of the world’s gold supply and 35% uranium. Also, it must be noted that less than 50% of continent has been geologically surveyed.

“That said, Africa only received less than one third of the $3 billion exploration investment in 2019. COVID-19 offers a unique opportunity to try different approaches and public-private partnership models to attract mining investment in Africa,” he explained.

Furthermore, Gatare pointed out that it is important that the mining sector co-exists with other economic benefits that promote the socio-economic well-being of citizens, particularly agriculture and also ensuring the long term sustainability of the environment.

“These are the general principles to set the regulatory framework which the dialogue between government, investors and communities need to take place in order to ensure continued partnerships in order to harness our natural resources,” he concluded.

AMF 2020 takes place from 16 to 20 November 2020. For more information visit africaminingforum.com