Panel calls for more junior mining, exploration in SADC region

3rd November 2020 By: Simone Liedtke - Creamer Media Social Media Editor & Senior Writer

JOHANNESBURG ( – While many of the countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region continue to face various challenges, a panel at this year’s virtual Junior Mining Indaba found that Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continue to perform well.

As an example, Caledonia Mining CEO Steve Curtis said that, while Zimbabwe had a very negative investor sentiment, owing mainly to poor infrastructure, a lack of power and difficulties in obtaining funding, doing business in the country still faced “very few hurdles” once a project was settled.

Thanks to the country’s abundant resources, and subsequent opportunities, Curtis has found Zimbabwe “a good place to be”, especially considering that its government is “very willing” and keen to assist.

DRA Global projects executive VP Alistair Hodgkinson shared Curtis’ sentiment on Zimbabwe, adding that the country had “great communities” and a “skilled workforce”, ultimately making project implementation easier, despite potential funding delays.

DRA, in this regard, foresees a “substantial amount of work” in the country, which is likely to increase once challenges have been addressed.

The same positivity, unfortunately, was not as forthcoming for Zambia and Tanzania, which were nonetheless both suggested investment destinations despite investment and opportunity activities being “very quiet” in the region, according to Hodgkinson.

On the DRC front, DRC Chamber of Mines president and Kipushi Corporation MD Louis Watum said the country was a “high risk, high reward” investment destination, especially considering the country’s “dynamic of political challenges”.

In addition to this, a lack of robust infrastructure, power and poor governance “limits potential” for prospective junior miners in the DRC. Should junior miners still be interested in this region, however, Watum emphasised the need “to compile a strong, local management team who understands the local complexities” as being key for achieving success.

Meanwhile, Botswana Chamber of Mines CEO Charles Siwawa called Botswana “the place to go” if prospective junior miners and explorers are “looking at diamond prospecting”. Copper is another route, though Botswana “can’t compete with its neighbours” in terms of its mineralogy.

Botswana has slowly seen an uptick in investment and exploration opportunities since the advent of adequate infrastructure on the western corridor of the country, he added, noting that it has “opened opportunities” and that “government’s eagerness to attract investors and exploration in Botswana” has led to the country’s leadership prioritising the safeguarding of investors.