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Focus on sustainability offers fresh investment prospects in the mining sector

A sharper focus on sustainability at this year's Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town a few weeks ago has started to translate into a different way of looking at mining, and with it, more opportunities for investment.
Photo: Investing in African Mining Indaba
Investors and partners are upbeat about the opportunities in mining in Africa, and are starting to see an increasing number of prospects in renewable energy in and around mines and within mining communities.

“They range from power to heating, air conditioning and cooling, transport and associated green tech like waste-energy and water purification,” said Gareth Pollit, director, Africa advisory for international and consulting network, Moore Stephens.

“Energy audits and energy management are increasingly of interest to companies that are delivering against sustainability metrics,” he said.

Renewable projects

Moore Stephens has been making inroads in the renewable energy space. One of its projects includes advising a large mining client in West Africa in assessing potential opportunities for a much more wide-ranging use of renewable energy in its operations. This would involve complementing its existing energy supply with solar power and battery storage.

Improved battery storage solutions could be applied in everything from site offices to setting up solar power hubs in mining communities, believes Pollit.

Community sustainability

“Planning from the early stages to involve key stakeholders, including community leaders, is getting a lot more attention and companies are now appreciating the need to get it right from the get-go,” says David Tomasi, global sector leader for energy, mining and renewables (EMR) for Moore Stephens.

Apart from traditionally strong mineral-rich countries, there is also investment potential in Kenya, which has minerals and thermal energy. Mauritius is also becoming attractive as a gateway for investing in the African mining sector, as it offers a low tax regime and various agreements to protect investor rights.

Policy certainty

While the investment climate was changing with a revised Mining Charter in South Africa, more policy certainty was needed, Olivier Barbeau, managing partner, Moore Stephens Johannesburg, said that

“Policy certainty and the rule of law is critical to getting mining projects off the ground,” says Barbeau. He also cautioned that currency fluctuations had a huge impact on international deals and that stability was key to delivering successful investments.
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