There are two major challenges facing the supply of cross-border mining services (CBMS) in Africa – a lack of resources, such as skills and investment, and poor or nonexistent infrastructure – hindering the enormous growth in mining activity across Africa, says CBMS Indaba conference manager Ros Hinchcliffe.
She also highlights how opaque and complex business conditions are, meaning the process of procuring and transporting between countries is highly challenging.
These challenges include delays at border posts, issues around customs – having the correct paperwork – bribery and corruption, and the hidden costs, such as local import duties, that companies are unaware of.
Organised by Mining Services 4 Africa, the sister company of Resources 4 Africa – the African resources investment-focused conference organiser of the Junior and Joburg Indabas – the concept of CBMS has been “germinating for a while” and is taking advantage of a perceived gap in the market for an event dedicated to the supply chain procurement and logistics challenges faced in the African mining sector.
Work started in the middle of last year on developing the two-day conference, which will be held from March 27 to 28, at The Country Club, in Auckland Park. The event will be preceded by a preconference workshop on March 26, led by corporate and commercial law firm Bowmans on understanding the legal and tax issues of exporting goods into Africa.
The Junior and Joburg Indabas have provided fertile ground for new ideas over the years, says Hinchcliffe. “We identified that there is a need for supply chain, logistics and procurement professionals servicing the mining industry to come together and discuss their issues and how they can solve the challenges they have experienced when supplying goods and equipment from South Africa across the border into the rest of Africa.”
Resources 4 Africa emphasises the need for innovative, flexible approaches to procurement and supply chain design and execution, both of which need to be unique and responsive to varying environments.
Hinchcliffe also proposes that industry stakeholders, including representatives from government, improve communication and increase transparency between them.
Facilitating this engagement, the mining equipment director from South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry will speak at the Indaba, while Southern African Development Community (SADC) secretariat industrialisation adviser Seth Akweshie will give a keynote address on supplying mining goods and services in an integrated Africa.
Johannesburg will host the first event as it has been recognised as a hub for procuring mining services. “Because of the depth and breadth of the companies that operate out of South Africa, we have good skills and infrastructure that is lacking in other parts of the continent.” Thereby, the event will also emphasise the benefit of using South African services.
Resources 4 Africa has received an exceptionally positive response to the launch of the event, notes Hinchcliffe. “No one else is hosting an event focused on this topic and we expect it to provide an enormous amount of value to the CBMS industry.”
The majority of attendees registered for the Indaba are from Johannesburg. Resources 4 Africa is marketing the event to other African countries, but mainly the SADC region.
Speakers for the Indaba have been secured from companies representing mining operations in South Africa, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania.
There is a lot of interest in Zimbabwe following the political change with President Robert Mugabe stepping down in November last year. “People are very interested in seeing what opportunities will arise in the market.”
Hinchcliffe has a speaker from Zimbabwe-based platinum-group metals mining company Zimplats on the programme. Zimplats commercial GM Charles Mugwambi will talk on the current challenges of cross-border trade in and out of Zimbabwe and strategies at Zimplats for alleviating constraints.
Other speakers include professional services firm Deloitte emerging markets and Africa MD Dr Martyn Davies, diversified resources company Exxaro supply chain group manager Mzimasi Tshikila, coal miner Sasol Mining supply chain senior VP Nosipho Damasane, global mining group Rio Tinto energy and minerals procurement leader Willem du Plessis, mineral exploration and development company Montero Mining & Exploration president and CEO Tony Harwood, tin exploration and mining business Alphamin Resources CEO Boris Kamstra, Botswana diamond miner Debswana group supply chain manager Hermann Siegling, Zambia-registered copper mine Mopani Copper Mines supply chain manager Sindiso Sichone, and resource-based development consultant and Mining Equipment Manufacturers of South Africa CEO Dr Paul Jourdan.
Hinchcliffe says, before any company ventures into supplying their services over borders, they need to carefully examine and understand the challenges, such as that presented by logistics, finance, tax and legal issues, that they may encounter. She also suggests having a strong in-house team of procurement/supply chain professionals or considering outsourcing this role to a competent and experienced third-party service provider.