Africa’s continued emergence as major economic region depends on a renewed commitment to collaboration between mining companies and the countries which host them, Randgold Resources chief executive Mark Bristow said at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town today.

Speaking at the annual Mining Indaba, Bristow said the recent boom in commodity prices had spurred economic development on the continent and its 7.7% annual growth forecast for the next five years was double that of the world’s advanced economies and well ahead of China, Russia and Brazil. It was poised to become a key global growth driver but still presented significant obstacles to investment, notably its infrastructure and skills limitations.

“Mining can play a major part in Africa’s realising its potential but our potential to contribute fully to the continent’s continuing transformation is handicapped by an irresponsible short-term culture which is an unfortunate legacy of the boom years. The harsh truth of the matter is that the mining sector has inflicted debt, impairments and write-downs on itself without making provision for its own long-term future, and is in a sorry state. In fact, even at current prices – and this applies to gold in particular – the industry is not viable without a major reinvention. Yet even now, almost all Africa’s mining countries are revising their mining codes and regulations to increase their share of the miners’ revenues. To put it bluntly, they are demanding more money from an industry that is basically insolvent,” Bristow said.

“There is only one way to secure mining’s future as a creator of real and lasting value for Africa and its people, and that is for the industry and its host governments to renew and strengthen their commitment to a mutually profitable partnership. That partnership should not be focused on the next quarter or the next term of office, but on the long term development of sustainable industries capable of rewarding all their stakeholders.”