Deloitte Africa Mining Leader Andrew Lane says that for the mining sector to remain sustainable, the concept of inclusive growth needs to be adopted by all players.
Andrew Lane
Andrew Lane

This was a theme touched on by Minster of Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Zwane, in his opening address earlier at the Cape Town Mining Indaba last week.

This idea, amongst others, was captured by a graphic artist as part of a visual Deloitte demonstration throughout the week at the event. Delegates were asked what they believed was the answer to a sustainable mining future which culminated into a collaborative roadmap for the future of the African mining landscape.

“The concept of growing and working together as labour, industry and government is absolutely key to the future and development of the mining industry,” says Lane.

Some of the highlights (and challenges facing Africa) that were visually captured include:

Social equity

In recognising that people are its most vital asset, the mining industry has to work collectively at inculcating greater dignity and respect among its workforce and community relations if it desires sustainable returns. Safety, training, community development and youth education are important.

Social license to operate

In Africa, mining operations must involve a mutually beneficial relationship that offers something for adjacent communities, creating a mine’s social license to operate. This demands shared goals, compromise and collaboration, thereby creating a net-positive benefit.

Local supplier development

Community development and sustainable mining operations should see miners support local businesses through their Enterprise Development and Procurement initiatives.

Other initiatives could include widening the participation of women in mining operations and ancillary activities, as well as training and education of community members so as to eradicate the disconnect that they may see between their lives and local mining operations.

A new investment model

For a sustainable operation, mines could consider impact investors, whose investment strategies focus on social responsibility.

Mines of the future will have to dovetail with other initiatives, such as:

    • New infrastructure systems that benefit entire communities, not just the mines.
    • A balanced portfolio in energy, consisting of a mix of carbon-based and renewable energy sources.
    • Sustainability footprint: When mines are eventually closed they can be turned into engineered aquifers, providing potable water for the local communities.

Back to Basics

In a tight economic environment with low commodity prices, one cannot neglect the customary business practices of Back to Basics, doing things quicker and better.

Technology and skills

The future mining organisation will be lean and agile, embracing Big Data and the Internet of Things; balancing technology with the retooling and upskilling of personnel for this new age of mining.

Drones, wearable tech and other smart systems could aid in creating a sustainable mining organisation.

Good governance

Investment will only be attracted to regions where good governance exists: No corruption or greed (either political or corporate); policy certainty, particularly tax and regulatory certainty; and red tape, will have to be kept to a minimum.

“Given the current climate in the mining sector, we need ensure that the scales are balanced so that everybody wins. As such, inclusive growth may just be the potential blueprint for sustainable mining in Africa,” concludes Lane.

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