Eramet at Mining Indaba: At the Heart of the Sector’s Challenges

The 25th Mining Indaba conference, a meeting place for the entire African mining industry, was held in South Africa from February 4-7, 2019. Eramet was there. Naturally.

Mining Indaba is the largest mining forum in Africa. Every year, 5,000 delegates gather in Cape Town, South Africa, to talk business, of course, but also to take the pulse of the entire industry. "We feel that the climate in South Africa has become more favorable for investors," says Sébastien Roquejeoffre, the Groupe's director of mergers and acquisitions, before commenting on the South African president Cyril Ramaphosa's visit to the congress: "The involvement of South African presidents was not guaranteed in the past. His presence – from the very first year of his mandate – sends a strong message to the entire sector and demonstrates a desire for change." But the conference is by no means limited to South African issues; the entire continent is the subject of discussion. This is why Eramet has made an effort to strengthen its presence in 2019. In previous years, only Eramet Ideas came to promote its R&D and Industrialization expertise; this year, the corporate teams joined the ranks: "This new approach will enable us to better mesh with the market and structure our business development," explains Sébastien Roquejeoffre. For Vincent Dieudonné, Executive Expert at Eramet Ideas, taking part in Mining Indaba is certainly an investment: "We attend not only to engage in networking and acquire new clients, but also to gain further information on the sector and the market, and to assist with benchmarking. You can find projects developed all over the continent, from Mali to Burkina Faso and Morocco. And alongside potential clients, there are technology suppliers that we might not meet otherwise." "It represents an opportunity to enter into contact with numerous representatives of African governments in the space of a few days – not just those we know, and not just those who are French-speaking," continues Nicolas Verdier, Strategy Manager. "It also provides an efficient way to accelerate contact with potential partners, as we meet many of them in a very short space of time," explains Sébastien Roquejeoffre.

Like fifteen other French companies, Eramet Ideas had a stand in the conference's aisles, and its presence was welcomed by the Ambassador of France to South Africa, Christophe Farnaud.

The 2019 conference also placed issues tied to sustainable development and corporate social responsibility (CSR) at the heart of the exchanges, suggesting that the sector has recognized the importance of such matters. For instance, an entire day was dedicated to the metals required for supplying the electric vehicle industry, particularly in terms of the manufacturing of batteries. Fringe events at the conference also provided food for thought on these topics. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank's institution responsible for development assistance, organized a forum on responsible finance and sustainable development, and the French Embassy organized a discussion session on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Nicolas Verdier participated in the event: "There were representatives from a large number of French-speaking countries, such as Cameroon and Togo, among others. Ivory Coast's minister for mines was also present, as well as the Secretary General of Senegal's Ministry of Mines and Geology. The entire sector seems to be taking CSR and environmental issues seriously."

The 2019 conference was clearly one to remember: "There really were a lot of people. And – good news – we're hearing more and more French being spoken in the aisles," says Vincent Dieudonné.