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Ivanhoe discusses opportunities in Rwanda

Tony Giardini, President, Ivanhoe Mines

Exclusive interview with Tony Giardini, the President of Ivanhoe Mines.

At the upcoming East & Central Africa Mining Forum in Kigali from 28-29 October, Ivanhoe is a silver sponsor and will headline a session on “Building and operating a sustainable and productive mine” and share two expert presentations on their Kamoa-Kakula, Kipushi and Flatreef (Platreef) mines and on large developments in East Africa and DRC.

Let’s start with some background on Ivanhoe and your projects on the continent – there is a proud history there.

Ivanhoe is a mineral exploration and development company, whose principal properties are located in Southern Africa. The Company, and its founder Robert Friedland, have been active in South Africa since 1994 and in the DRC since 1996, focusing on exploration within the Central African Copperbelt and on the northern limb of the Bushveld Complex. 

Any specific projects in the mining sector that Ivanhoe is involved in currently that you are particularly excited about at the moment? 

Ivanhoe Mines is focused on advancing its three principal projects in Southern Africa: the development of new mines at the Kamoa-Kakula copper discoveries in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Platreef palladium-platinum-nickel-copper-gold discovery in South Africa; and the extensive redevelopment and upgrading of the historic Kipushi zinc-copper-germanium-silver mine, also in the DRC. 

The Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project is scheduled to begin initial copper production in 2021 and has the potential to become the world’s second largest copper mine when fully developed. Ivanhoe also is exploring for new copper discoveries on its wholly-owned Western Foreland exploration licences near the Kamoa-Kakula Project. 

Tell us more about your business interests in the East & Central African regions. 

Ivanhoe recognizes that exploration and mine development is a long-term process and has a proven track record of successfully finding and developing mineral resources on the African continent. A key component of our success is key strategic relationships we’ve built and maintained. 

How important is sustainability, responsible mining and eco-friendly practices on the ground for the company? 

At Ivanhoe Mines, we are guided by our sustainability strategy that includes our vision to create shared value for all our stakeholders. We are committed to responsible mineral development by incorporating sustainability best practice standards in our industry. 

These include (1) ensuring a safe and healthy working environment in our business operations; (2) eliminating or controlling potential workplace hazards for the protection of all employees, contractors and local communities; (3) promoting sound environmental practices in all of our activities; (4) continually improving the efficient use of resources, processes and materials; and (5) contributing to a local socio-economic environment in which local stakeholders can thrive. 

This approach is clearly illustrated by a brick-making project founded at Ivanhoe’s Kamoa-Kakula project. The project team identified brick-making as an enterprise development opportunity in the Project’s supply chain for local community members. The Company recruited 19 local unemployed individuals of which six are female and provided start-up equipment and training. The brick-making business was officially registered as Tujenge cooperative proudly owned by the 19 local owner-workers. 

Tujenge has a three and a half year uptake agreement with the Kamoa-Kakula Project to supply bricks for construction of offices and houses. The cooperative agreed to repay the start-up financing they received from the Company within the contract period. 

Continuing Company support include quality control, entrepreneurial and safety training and support to find other clients to purchase bricks. Tujenge celebrated the production of 100,000 bricks in its facility on September 13, 2018. It plans to purchase another brick-making machine and expand its market to Kolwezi. 

How excited are you about the mining opportunities in Rwanda and the region? 

Growing demand for electric vehicles is important to help cut transport emissions, but it will also lead to new mining opportunities in Rwanda and the region. Like solar panels, wind turbines and battery storage technologies, electric vehicles require a complex mix of metals, many of which have only been previously mined in small amounts. These include lithium, cobalt and nickel for batteries used for electric vehicles. 

What advice would you give a prospective investor in this sector in the region? 

Rwanda’s government worked diligently on improving conditions for investors. The country’s rank on the World Bank’s Doing Business score improved to 29 out of 190 in 2018 from 41 in 2017. In terms of permitting for exploration and mining, Rwanda has an impressive turnaround time partly due to establishing one point of entry into the government system for companies seeking licensing. Departments such as mining, environment and water are all aligned and manage the coordination of applications amongst themselves. 

What is your vision for mining in East and Central Africa? 

We are aligning ourselves with key strategic stakeholders in the region. 

Why the decision to partner with the East & Central Africa Mining Forum in October? 

We have been interacting with the Department of Mines in Rwanda and have been following the activities of the Tony Blair Foundation in Rwanda closely. We decided to partner with the East and Central Africa Mining Forum to support these valued relationships. 

What will be Ivanhoe’s message at the event? 

Ivanhoe Mines has a proven track record in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. Not only in exploration and mine development, but also in developing sustainable community livelihood activities. We believe we can add value to the Forum through showcasing some of our success stories.

What are you most looking forward to in Kigali in October? 

We are looking forward to building our network of long-term strategic partnerships. Working together we can add value to our host countries, its people and our peers operating in the region.

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