Mining Indaba 2012 – Growth and Opportunity

The overriding themes at this year’s Mining Indaba show in Cape Town, South Africa, were by far Growth and Opportunity. Each keynote I attended and all the investors and operators I spoke with, shared an optimism about the future of mining in Africa.

As Maptek’s Director of Global Marketing, I often go to trade shows to meet customers and gain insight into the mining industry. Usually the conversations I have center around the specific needs of our users such as requests for new features in Vulcan, ideas on novel uses for I-Site, etc. However, the Indaba show was quite different in a way that I think bodes well for the continued growth of mining, not only in Africa but globally.

It was clear that the growing infrastructure needs in emerging countries like China and India will be a major factor over the next several years. According to one keynote speaker, by 2020 China will be building the infrastructure equivalent of two Chicago’s each year, with India not far behind. Obviously this will require a dramatic increase in mining materials like copper, iron ore and coal to meet that demand.

This expected growth is not lost on the many exploration companies and major players at the Indaba show. African mines that were once considered to be at end-of-life are being brought back online and expanded. Deposits that were formally disregarded for various reasons are being explored and in many cases fast-tracked into operation.

It was also encouraging to see the level of investment that major operators like Vale and Ivanplats are putting into the areas surrounding their new developments.  They’re realizing that the untapped natural resources in Africa extend beyond commodities and to the local people. Many of the new and planned operations include significant opportunities for locals to get educated, find work and improve their lives.

For Maptek’s customers there is obviously significant opportunity as well, but it doesn’t come without significant challenges. The need for skilled mining engineers and geologists is always an issue, but nowhere is it more pressing than in Africa. As a result Maptek’s African office is rapidly expanding their operation and head count to meet demand and provide the kind of support that our customers have come to expect.

I left the show very enthusiastic and optimistic about the future of the mining industry and Maptek. Certainly there are many challenges that will need to be addressed but given the state of where things are, and where they’re expected to go, I’m confident that the industry, our customers and Maptek are up to the challenge.

Stewart Maurer
Director of Global Marketing
February 27, 2012

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