West African summit to focus on challenges affecting the region

The 2015 West and Central Africa (WaCA) Mining Summit and Expo, which will be held at the Accra International Convention Centre, in Ghana, on May 20 and 21, will focus on ways to mitigate the challenges facing the mining industry in these two regions.

The summit’s theme – A Premier Showcase of Industry Resilience to Inspire & Rethink Winning Strategies – will further consider the measures that mine operators have implemented to remain resilient amid a time of volatile mineral prices, declining global demand for commodities and the Ebola virus, WaCA organising company Magenta Global CEO Maggie Tan tells he media

She adds that the Ebola virus, which has killed more than 10 000 people, including 500 medical personnel, has dampened the region’s economic and business outlook significantly. The summit will, therefore, also focus on proper risk management strategies, as West Africa continues to be affected by the Ebola pandemic that also led to the indefinite closure of some mining operations.

Further, despite West and Central Africa boasting some of the world’s largest high-grade bauxite and iron-ore reserves, they are mostly untapped, owing to political risks, infrastructure deficiencies, inadequate transport networks and fiscal and regulatory bottlenecks.

“These are some of the issues that the summit will delve into,” she notes, adding that the summit is a good platform for such a discussion, as industry leaders, government officials and many other mining stakeholders will be in attendance.

The summit will feature industry representatives from about 30 countries, including the Republic of Congo, Senegal, Benin, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, South Africa, Namibia and Cameroon.

Representatives from Ghana’s Lands and Natural Resources Ministry, the Ghana Mineral Commission and the Ghana Mineworkers Union will attend the event.

Other attendees will comprise domestic and foreign mining companies with operations in the West and Central African regions such as US-based gold producer Newmont Mining Corporation, South Africa-based gold miner Gold Fields, Canada-based gold miners Golden Star Resources and Banro, miner Wafa Mining &Petroleum, as well as mining service providers.

“For instance, environmental project management company Veolia will hold a free workshop for mine engineers under the theme Optimising Operations for Environmental Sustainability at the expo hall, which will feature more than 60 exhibitors,” Tan highlights.

There will also be 22 presentations that cover policy and strategic, commercial and operational issues.

Roundtable Talks
Three roundtable discussions – a first for the summit – have been scheduled to deal with three critical subthemes.

The first is a policy and regulators roundtable, to be moderated by Ghana Chamber of Mines CEO Sulemanu Kone, which will focus on overcoming infrastructural bottlenecks and policy transparency.

The second, a mining industry leaders roundtable, will focus on achieving resilience in mining operations through cost management, talent management and community engagement.

This discussion will be moderated by Golden Star Resources COO and executive VP Daniel Owiredu, and its panellists will include Goldfields Ghana West Africa head and VP Alfred Baku, former Ghana Energy and Petroleum Minister and Wafa Mining Mauritania MD Ibrahima Lamine Wane, Banro VP Daniel Kenneth, Newmont Mining Corporation Africa head Johan Feirreira and Ghana Mineworkers Union general secretary Prince William Ankrah.

The mining investors roundtable will focus on alternative financing options.
Panellists for the investors roundtable will include integrated international mining company China Hanking Holdings president and CEO Dr Greg Pan Guocheng, Australia-based precious metals refinery company 888 Investment Group MD Craig Anderson, financial services provider Stanbic Bank West Africa head of mining, energy and infrastructure Celiwe Ntuli and law firm McCarthy Tetrault partner Tina Blazquez-Lopez.

Meanwhile, Tan says the summit will also discuss China’s demand for commodities, as “there is broad consensus that the future of Africa’s commodities boom will partly depend on China”.

Providing interesting insights will be China Metallurgical Industry Planning and Research Institute president and chief engineer Li Xinchuang and Guocheng.

Tan concludes that the first day of the summit will be chaired by Ghana Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources adviser Benjamin Aryee, while the second day will be chaired by Owiredu.

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