LONDON, (The Southern African Times) – The mining sector has been urged to adapt to 21st century challenges, such as climate change and the current COVID-19 pandemic.
This was the topline message at a webinar hosted by the African Development Bank’s African Natural Resources Centre (ANRC) and its African Legal Support Facility (ALSF) in partnership with the Nordic Africa Institute.
The webinar is part of a series dedicated to discussing Africa’s COVID-19 response in the extractives sector. The most recent workshop, held on 26 February and themed Minerals and Africa’s Development: Challenges and Opportunities, explored the findings of the landmark 2011 International Study Group Report (ISG Report) on minerals and Africa’s development as well as the implementation of the African Union’s Africa Mining Vision (AMV). Both documents call for close integration of mining into national, regional and continental development frameworks.
Fui Tsikata, a mining law consultant and the chief coordinator of the International Study Group, said the objectives of the report and AMV remain relevant, but should be updated to meet current challenges.
“The mining sector should adapt to changing times due to COVID-19 and climate change. Africa should focus on minerals critical to the transition to clean, green energy,” Tsikata added.
Jerry Ahadjie, Chief Minerals Officer at the Bank, highlighted the findings of an ANRC study into the critical success factors in local content development. He emphasized the need to establish linkages between the mining sector and the broader economy.
Ahadjie encouraged African countries to develop and implement local content policies that promote domestic production of inputs, value addition through manufacturing, skills building, domestic job creation and the participation of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) within the entire value chain.
Yao Graham, coordinator of the Third World Network-Africa (TWN-Africa), said mineral processing and value-added manufacturing could accelerate structural transformation in the sector. He called for a greater effort to realize the objectives of the Africa Mining Vision.
Nellie Mutemeri, an independent consultant and professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, said women were under-represented in the mining industry and stood ready to contribute to continental frameworks to reflect the latest global trends.
Richard Morgan, head of government relations at multinational corporation Anglo American plc, urged mining companies to engage more closely with local SMEs and micro-businesses as suppliers in the mine’s value chain.
Mining companies should pursue a range of adaptive practices to respond to current and potential disruptions to climate change, such as the use of solar energy, he said.