investing in African mining Indaba with Simon Ford
Mining and Business Magazine met Simon ford, Africa Mining Indaba’s Portfolio Director. Simon Ford was appointed Portfolio Director in July this year as part of the Hyve Group, although relatively new to this role, he is keen to up the anti for Mining Indaba, planning an even bigger and better 2020 edition.

With more space being allocated to junior and mid-tiers within the Investment Pavilion to drive deals and attract more investors than any other event. 

Mining & Business Magazine. Simon, Investing in African Mining Indaba has acquired its letters of nobility with each edition. Today, it is one of the most important mining industry events in Africa. Tell us about your expectations for the 26th edition of Africa Mining Indaba, which will be held from February 3 to 6 in Cape Town, South Africa? 

Simon Ford. Building on the success of 2019, we expect to see even more mining companies, investors and governments from across Africa and around the world. Our delegates can also expect to see more sophisticated matchmaking opportunities, more networking and more industry leading content. It is shaping up to be a phenomenal show! A key focus for us for 2020 has been on matchmaking and networking, two key drivers for attendance. This year our online matchmaking platform has undergone momentous investment, so delegates can expect a faster and more meaningful system that matches mining companies with investors who share the same strategic interests. A big part of Mining Indaba is the networking and bringing industry peers face to face to make the business happen, therefore we are excited to be hosting the first ‘Indaba After Hours’ networking party, open to all delegates and taking place on Tuesday 4th February.

 M&B. In relation to the current state of mining resources on the continent, can you explain to me in a little more detail how you determine the content that will soon be highlighted in the conferences you are implementing?

 SF. We work closely with our esteemed Advisory Board over the 12 month period to identify industry trends, potential speakers and target organisations. In addition to this our dedicated teams in Content, Government Relations and Strategic Partnerships all work tirelessly throughout the year with key stakeholders to build a truly representative and innovative programme. A great example is where we have been working very closely with Anglo American and are delighted to have their Chief Executive, Mark Cutifani, open the event with a keynote presentation on the ‘Brand of Mining’, addressing a range of issues from the industry’s response to climate change to the role of mining in the energy transition. We also have a very collaborative and important relationship with Alternative Mining Indaba and we work very closely with them to ensure they are represented and play a significant role in the Sustainability Day amongst other initiatives. 

M&B. Mining Indaba embraced the theme of the future of mining digitization in 2019, why is automation and digitization important for the African mining industry?

 SF. In order to continue to attract investment, the mining industry needs to always be innovating and evolving, this is why we have extended the ‘Mining 2050’ programme from 1 day to 2 in 2020. We are seeing how the digital revolution is helping companies in other industries to increase productivity by operating more efficiently and also improving safety, which are both key to boosting the attractiveness of an investment. By adopting 4th industrial revolution technologies it can also become easier to track supply chains and promote responsible sourcing. This is demonstrated by the new digital cobalt supply chain that is being built on an IBM blockchain platform and could transform the mining supply process. Whilst tech adoption is often resisted in organisations the digital and automated shift is coming and if embraced properly there is great opportunity for increasing productivity, reducing carbon emissions, boosting employment and satisfying investor requirements. We want to continue championing the 2050 vision at Mining Indaba but hope that adoption can happen sooner than that!

 M&B. In 2019, you celebrated the 25th anniversary of Mining Indaba. What will Mining Indaba’s “happening” in 2020? 

SF. The 25th Anniversary was a fantastic event and whilst there is no need to make drastic changes we want to continue innovating the show and keep delivering the strong return on investment for our clients. The key things to look out for in 2020 will be the new General Counsel Forum, in partnership with Africa Legal, which offers a new perspective at Mining Indaba. We will bring together the leading mining company lawyers and local law firms from across Africa to discuss, debate and challenge the current legal frameworks around African mining. In addition to the enhanced matchmaking and networking we are excited to be bringing many more students and young leaders to take part in the event. We will also keep building the diversity of our speaker line up as we look to increase the 25% female speaker representation that we had in 2019.

 M&B. Investing in Africa Mining Indaba is the best platform to bring together mining industry stakeholders, promote innovation? Do you have any messages to pass on to the players in this industry?

 SF. I am relatively new to this position and to the mining industry but the one thing that has struck me is the passion that all stakeholders and participants have for Mining Indaba. It is the focal point for mining in Africa and is the platform that sets the agenda for the industry for rest of the year. Therefore my message to the industry is ‘don’t miss 2020’. We have some incredible initiatives being implemented and an organising team that will raise the bar in terms of event delivery.

 We are very excited to host you in Cape Town in February 2020 and look forward to seeing you there!

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