Miners return to work at the Lonmin Platinum mine after Lonmin resolved a five-week strike by agreeing to pay raises of up to 22 percent, in Marikana, Rustenburg, South Africa, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)

Johannesburg - Amid the exciting challenges of South Africa’s first 20 years of democracy, the Investing in African Mining Indaba has reached its own milestone.

As the catalyst of billions of dollars of foreign direct investment, the indaba celebrates 20 years of facilitating deals that have changed the face of African mining, strengthening the continent dramatically as a global player.

By the early 1990s, Africa’s share of the world’s mining exploration and development investment had slumped to about 5 percent.

South African and international investors were urged beyond traditional sub-Saharan parameters, thanks in part to the new government’s diplomatic emphasis on the African continent and its ties with the Organisation for African Unity (later the AU), which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.

By 2012, global mining exploration budgets had reached an all-time high of $20.5 billion (R232bn), increasing by 19 percent against the previous year.

Africa leapfrogged Canada to take that year’s second-largest slice of the global exploration pie, having more than tripled its historic share to 17 percent.

On the continent, the Democratic Republic of Congo headed exploration spending for the second time in three years. West Africa also received intense interest, particularly with regards to gold.

In South Africa, the indaba’s host country, mining accounted for 19 percent of private-sector investment in 2012 and about 12 percent of total investment in the economy.

This directly produced 8.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), though indirect multiplier and induced effects more than doubled mining’s impact on the economy to about 17 percent.

Countries across Africa also form about a quarter of the nations supplying China’s resource-hungry infrastructure programme.

In 2004, about 1 500 delegates attended the indaba, representing about 50 countries, and about 150 exhibits were staged. By the decade’s end, this had doubled to about 3 000 delegates.

This year 7 800 global professionals are expected, representing 2 100 international companies from more than 110 countries, with about 500 sponsoring companies and 40 African government delegations.

The Investing in African Mining Indaba and the high-value global business people and leaders who attend have injected R485 million directly into the Cape Town economy over the past six years. More than 3 750 jobs were created in that period.

As a pledge to that future, we have extended our education commitment, increasing to $30 000 (R336 000) the recently introduced Investing in African Mining Indaba Bursaries Programme.

This year they’ll be awarded to four deserving South African students pursuing mining careers. The indaba will also contribute R25 000 to an education initiative, while the Els for Autism Foundation will be a beneficiary of the annual golf day.

The Investing in African Mining Indaba runs from next Monday to Thursday.

* Moore is senior vice-president and managing director of the Mining Indaba.

** The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Independent Newspapers.

Weekend Argus