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Exclusive interview with Susa Maleba country manager SRK Consulting  in the DRC. At the upcoming DRC Mining Week he is part of a high-level panel discussion in the session on: “Diversification of the revenues – is mining the only key for economic growth in the DRC?”

“Congolese youth must take ownership of new laws on local sub-contracting to create a new generation of businessmen who create wealth outside of politics”

1)    Let’s start with some background on SRK Consulting and your role there?
SRK Consulting is a leader in natural resource and infrastructure development solutions, providing independent technical advice and solutions through over 45 offices, in 19 countries, on six continents.

The SRK CD office started in May 2010 and is located at 2056 Lukonzolwa Avenue in the Golf area of Lubumbashi in the DRC. The office currently has a staff complement of 14, composed of nine technical and four support staff. For specific projects, the office uses extra independent scientists on an associate basis.

The office offers services mainly in terms of environmental, social, geological and mining studies. Geological services offered include mineral exploration, resource estimation and mining geology. The DRC office is also involved in geotechnical work (civil and mining) and water management.

I have been the country manager since the office’s inception, and take charge of all administrative and financial management of the office while also doing technical work in the areas of mining and environmental projects.

2)    Any specific projects in the mining sector that SRK is involved in that you are particularly excited about?
SRK CD works with most of the major mining companies, who generally call SRK to work with them on challenging projects. Our recent work in the field of geology includes exploration and resource estimation for KCC, CHEMAF, PIMA Mining, Crown Mining, MIBA and COMIDE. In terms of environmental and social studies, we have conducted environmental and social impact assessments (ESIAs) and audits for KCC, MUMI, TFM, KALUMINES, MMG, ENRC, PPC, NYA and others. Clients are recognising the need for ESIAs as a vital part of sustainable extraction strategies and the social licence to mine – fields in which SRK has an established contribution.

We are also excited about the TERRA agricultural project; cement plant projects such as PPC BARNET and CIMKO are significant as they aim to reduce DRC’s reliance on cement imports.

3)    What in your view are the main challenges to the African mining sector? And the DRC in particular?
Government policies need to be redefined, reviewed and adapted to the need of the industry and the country realities. There also needs to be more dialogue among the industry keys players (industry, government and civil society). An infrastructures development plan for the industry as a whole needs to be developed, and local skills in the sector need to be assessed and developed to meet the industry requirements.

In brief, organisations like chambers of mines, chambers of commerce, universities, research centres and others need to work with the government to define priorities, policy and a realistic road map for the long-term development of the industry. We need also to emphasise that all the above needs to be done with a firm understanding of the region in particular and the continent in general.

4)    What is your vision for the sector?
The future for the mining industry in the DRC is bright, as a sustainable mining industry is possible with the collaboration of the DRC government and the mining operators. The mining industry draws support from external expertise when required; it must mainly be technically run by local skills so that it is cost efficient and uplifts the socio-economic position of local communities.

5)    Which African countries are doing the right things in your opinion?
In Zambia and Ghana, the industry is progressively being technically sustained by local skills and suppliers.

6)    You are part of a panel discussion at DRC Mining Week in June on the “Diversification of revenue – is mining the only key for economic growth in the DRC” – what will be your message at the event?
Mining, on its own, is not enough to ensure economic growth; but mining can boost development, especially in the Katanga province, by promoting and developing the other sectors of the economy. My message at the event is that Congolese youth must take ownership of the new laws on local sub-contracting (‘sous-traitance’) to create a new generation of businessmen who knows how to create wealth outside of politics.

7)    What are you most looking forward to at the event?
Activity in the industry is starting to pick up after the global economic slowdown, so this event will be an important opportunity to meet with captains of industry government officials and other stakeholders to discuss strategies and mineral opportunities for the future.

8)    Anything you would like to add?
The next 10 years will be key for Africa’s natural resource development, as the world economy grows the demand for Africa’s resources will grow. Let us take up this challenge – as individuals, as companies, as a country and as a continent – to ensure we do not miss the chance to develop the mining sector so that it contributes even more to the development of our people.

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