How Africa’s top mining event is adapting to desperate times

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Last year the mining industry experienced a 25% year-on-year decline in commodity prices that left many miners struggling with asset disposals, lay-offs and closures.

The effects of this were felt earlier this year at the annual Investing in African Mining Indaba, the premier event for industry professionals and investors hosted at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC). Smaller industry budgets translated into smaller company delegations in attendance, and while numbers were only down to about 6,000 from 6,700 in 2015, the halls of CTICC felt quieter when compared with previous years.

“The industry has faced some significant headwinds over the last four or five years and the Indaba to a large degree is a microcosm of what happens within the sector. Certainly the challenges that have befallen the mining corporates have translated to challenges for our… Indaba,” notes Jonathan Moore, the Mining Indaba’s vice-president and managing director.

“So what we have really been focused on is how to ensure the platform and the value proposition we offer continues to deliver something unique for our delegates, and [that we] continue to modify and evolve that value proposition in light of the changes happening in the marketplace.”

One of the key adjustments is a 30-50% reduction in registration fees for mining and exploration companies attending the Indaba next year. Private, public and state-owned companies will have separate rates and prices will be determined by factors such as a company’s market capitalisation.

“We have made a very substantial adjustment to create a value proposition at a price point that companies can palate, given the current status of the market. And that has resulted in a complete overhaul of our pricing strategy for mining corporates, which is now structured with the intent that those who are likely the neediest are given the best opportunity. So it’s a sliding scale of reduction off our standard rate,” Moore explains.

“Our fees were generally in the £800 to £1,300 range (US$1,055 – $1,715) depending on how early you registered and signed up. Now, for the lowest price structure, there is an opportunity for let’s say nano-cap companies to participate in the Indaba for as little as £399 ($530) to attend the four-day event.

The Indaba also allows qualified investors to attend for free if they meet certain criteria around their assets under management, the types of funds they manage, and their activity in the resource sector. The strategy was introduced in 2015 to encourage negotiations and deal-making within the confines of the Indaba, and a programme was also established to help investors better navigate the event.

“This includes [allowing] access to private lounges to make sure they can host their meetings. It also includes custom materials, access to concierge services and custom matchmaking.”

The event also hopes to better encourage and facilitate meeting participation and networking between industry leaders with the introduction of new networking opportunities. These include commodity-focused speed networking events and issue-specific roundtables.

“The market still has some significant challenges but we want to be in a position where we grow year-on-year, and continue to fine-tune and evolve the value proposition,” continues Moore.

“And in my mind the bigger issue going forward is not necessarily the scale of the event… but having the right people there and the right engagements – and then continuing to fine-tune that.

“If you look at everything we are doing with respect to the free access for investors, the pricing reduction for mining corporates and the focus on getting the right sponsors and exhibits on the exhibition floor… all of that speaks to creating the right environment at the event. And that is really more of our focus than simply creating growth in numbers.”