Economists agree that climate change risks have, to date, been underestimated by industry in general, including mining, says consulting engineers and scientists SRK Consulting South Africa director and principal consultant Andrew van Zyl.
Consequently, he expects that challenges associated with climate change will be of particular interest at this year’s Investing in African Mining Indaba.
He cites that issues pertaining to water and social licence to operate, for instance, are likely to be aggravated by climate change and will be increasingly felt by operations in Africa.
Year on year, Mining Indaba makes a considerable effort to align its agenda to current, pressing issues, says Van Zyl.
“As an essentially investment-focused event, Mining Indaba delegates are looking for solutions on how the investment climate can best be managed to optimise mineral projects.”
Factors continuing to influence investment in the African mining industry include geopolitical instability in some regions, mining codes, commodity price forecasts and electricity supply constraints.
“Investors will be keen to see codes evolve to ensure clarity and fewer unintended consequences,” says Van Zyl.
He explains that the best mining codes are those that do not allow too much discretion in bureaucratic decisions.
This creates more certainty for investors and allows for more effective planning and, in recent years, SRK has been working towards this by collaborating with the World Association of Mining Lawyers to develop its model mining code, Van Zyl adds.
Mitigating Risk Through Innovation
SRK Consulting SA partner and principal mining engineer Marcin Wertz expects innovation to continue assisting in mitigating risks in Africa.
“The risks in mining evolve all the time, and our responses must be similarly dynamic.”
He says constant innovation – not just in technological terms but in industry best practice – is proving vital in keeping the mining sector thriving and sustainable.
“We are seeing valuable progress in developing expertise to address the growing environmental, social and governance risks facing mining. This includes the permitting of new projects, water and waste management, climate action, social licence to operate and closure,” explains Wertz.
SRK uses the Mining Indaba to gain insight into the mining industry’s response to market trends in Africa, specifically the perceptions of and solutions to traditional and emerging industry risks.
“Our presence at Mining Indaba reminds delegates of our broad professional and technical expertise – in not only mining but also the related fields of infrastructure, energy, water and environment,” emphasises Van Zyl.
The SRK delegation will include experts from numerous globally based SRK offices, giving visitors to the company’s stand a “valuable opportunity to gain insights on Africa from a range of perspectives”.