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Clinging to Optimism

By Laura Cornish

I started the year with such high hopes for our mining sector. They weren’t unrealistic – I know our industry is suffering severely at the hands of devastatingly low commodity prices. But, I was hoping that a few good stories would feature every so oft en. It seems for now my hopes are too high.

For now, I find myself trying to cling on to optimism while the number of mines being placed on care and maintenance continues to increase and the number of CEOs forfeiting their posts (willingly or by force I leave for you to decide) creeps higher as well.

The announcement of a mine heading down the ‘care and maintenance road’ seems to be a daily occurrence (or so it feels). While mine closures and production slow-downs are a natural part of any mine’s life, these are being brought about prematurely. Many of them are great mines which should still be celebrating their heydays, not grieving abrupt endings. Perhaps it is the speed at which this is happening that I cannot get to grips with.

About six months ago I interviewed Mawson West CEO Brian McFadzean on the company’s great plans for its Dikulushi copper mine in the DRC, which it acquired from Anvil. Fast forward to the present and the mine is closing and McFadzean is no longer with the company (as announced late in January).

Or what about True Gold? Last year’s PDAC saw CEO Dwayne Melrose reveal a new gold mine in Burkina Faso (Karma) under construction and in the making. It was a great story. But January brought a devastating strike on site, millions of losses in damages and Melrose too has left his post (with immediate effect). I was in fact in discussion with Melrose to provide an update on the project for our West African feature early in January. But a week after our initial correspondence, his lack of response to my follow up email was clarified when the company announced his immediate exit. That is the speed with which these events are unfolding. The care and maintenance list goes on – and it’s global – stretching from Western Australia to the States and right across Africa where the great and mighty Lumwana mine faces the temporary ‘chop’, the world-renowned Konkola Copper Mines continues to be a growing concern and even Optimum Coal Mines in South Africa – one of the oldest but largest coal operations in the country – suddenly comes to an end. I ask – how much more must our industry endure?

Thank goodness for MINING REVIEW AFRICA

Fortunately, it is at times like these that I celebrate my position as editor of MINING REVIEW AFRICA. The magazine is my platform to keep reminding the market that no matter how tough the times, the fight is still not over.

At present, this holds true particularly well for our gold sector – in West Africa. Turn to page 12 to read from our industry experts on their uplifting views of the region’s upcoming promise. From page 18 onwards we reveal exciting production news, and a new project about to start construction.

Our new senior deputy editor Chantelle Kotze (whom many of you will know) has also introduced a new feature to the magazine on mining investment. A critical business area to be informed on in today’s weak economic market. Also new to the magazine is a focus on who in industry is helping to make mine’s more money, in less time while improving operational efficiency. Any miner should take a look at that for sure!

In closing (as they say), I would like to officially welcome Chantelle to the MINING REVIEW AFRICA team. We are extremely excited to have another mining enthusiast on board whose passion and hard-working nature is hard to miss. Since joining she has already become a huge asset and content contributor and my second half.