S-RM’s 2020 Mining in Africa Report
Looking ahead to the next decade, there’s no question of the opportunities presented by the mining sector in Africa. For resource-rich countries, investment in the mining industry can generate employment, spur economic growth and propel technological innovation. Indeed, the prospect of attractive returns and long-term growth has caught the attention of state-sponsored and private investors globally. From Western Europe and the US through to Russia and China: all eyes are on Africa.
But the continent’s mining sector has also been tainted by the so-called “resource curse”, with abundant examples of corruption, insecurity and the inequitable distribution of profits. Which is why, at the turn of the decade, commercial operators, consumers, governments and investors are taking stock. We are entering an age which is moving rapidly from opacity to transparency, and from tacit acceptance to meticulous scrutiny.
In our 2020 Mining in Africa Report, we draw on commentary from a range of S-RM’s subject matter experts who share their insights on some of the key risks facing mining sector stakeholders across the continent.
In Stepping Up: Addressing ESG risks in the age of transparency, we consider the importance of taking Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) risks seriously. Regulators, investors and consumers are collectively calling for greater accountability from mining companies when it comes to concerns ranging from environmental degradation to human rights and clean supply chain management. Industry leaders are already taking note and reaping the benefits of their improved standing in the market, but there remains substantial work to be done.
Shifting gears, Gold Rush: Artisanal mining, crime & militancy in Africa explores the complex intersection between artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM), militancy, and crime. The very nature of ASGM makes it particularly vulnerable to infiltration and exploitation by militant groups and organised criminal syndicates. This presents unique security challenges for commercial operators, given that ASGM activities often take place in the shadow of larger commercial projects.
In Community Engagement: Approaching complex problems, we take an in-depth look at the role of risk management when it comes to maintaining a social licence to operate (SLO). Local communities have always been key stakeholders in the mining sector, and the impact of a damaged SLO for communities and projects alike is significant. Interrogating possible futures, dealing appropriately with uncertainty and investigating the root causes of company-community conflict are key to a sound SLO initiative.
Our final article, Mining’s New Horizons: Risk and reward at the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, looks to the future. The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is here and its applications in mining are abundant. From automation to predictive maintenance, the 4IR is set to digitally transform the industry. However, this transformation brings with it a number of cyber security risks and companies at the forefront of innovation should ensure their technology does not outpace their resilience to cyber threats.
Industries globally are grappling with how best to adapt to both imminent change and the foggier risks of tomorrow. The African mining sector is no exception. We invite you to engage with our industry experts as they explore some of the operational, regulatory and cyber issues which are set to shape the direction of this evolving risk landscape for years to come.