There is a stronger than ever need for continued engagement for Australian African like-minded exploration and mining sectors, despite the challenging equities market sentiment globally in 2015 over resources.
Speaking on the eve of one of Australia’s largest mining forums, Africa Down Under in Perth this week, Perth-based pro-African businessman, Bill Repard, said the mining relationship between the two continents had ballooned over the past decade with conservative estimates suggesting Australian investment on the continent had reached A$40 billion.
However, given the recent volatility on equities market, Repard cautioned against Africa’s potential being measured against short-term market dynamics in any jurisdiction or across any single or particular metal.
He said Africa’s vast proven and under-exploited mineral wealth continued to offer longer term opportunities for the “mining stayers”.
“The track record of Australian companies in Africa is proof that our explorers, developers and miners are committed to the continent for the long haul rather than walking away because of prevailing market trends,” Repard said.
“The latest choppiness in commodities markets will not deter Australian companies from their strategies on a continent which still offers unrivalled mineral opportunity.”
“The temptation to ignore the immense geographic and technical synergies between Australian mining expertise and African mineral prospectivity has gained traction this year only because of the sustained pressures on equities caused by the collapse in iron ore, coal and oil pricing and supply demand.
“While there is concern among Australia’s mining fraternity about the maturity of our geology and the lack of major new mineral discoveries in the past decade, Africa remains vastly under-explored.
“Coupled with this geological opportunity is the increasing spread of stable, pro-development democracies throughout the African continent. These governments recognise the opportunity for development mining offers and are trying to ensure their legal and investment frameworks are robust enough to attract international investors.
“However, Australia cannot expect to easily retain its leading role in African mineral development and needs to look over its shoulder at the increasing number of international players willing to fill any void left by a lessening of Australian engagement.”
Relationships ahead of investment
Repard said sentiment around Africa Down Under this week would reflect that while 2015 was not the year to court large investment, “it would be a year for building trust with stakeholders and reinforcing the relationships companies and governments have developed”.
“Regardless of the market situation, there is much work that can be done at Ministerial and departmental head level in Perth this week that will have direct benefit to the hundreds of Australian resources players, many Perth-based, with existing or pending operations in Africa’s mining space,” Repard said.
“Building reputations and relationships have and always will be key objectives of this intense meeting of government heads from the two continents.
“Relationships, of course, go both ways and Africa Down Under will, within this tighter equities environment globally, provide some clean air in which to showcase, reinforce and hopefully broaden, the depth and breadth of the Australian-African resources and project investment relationship.”