The presence of Australian mining companies on the African continent has steadily grown over the past two decades. Australian investment has surged in the past two years, with Australian companies firmly believing they can add value across Africa. Bill Witham of the Australia-Africa Minerals & Energy Group (AAMEG) talks about the role we can expect to see Australian companies play in future development of the sector.
What is AAMEG and what role does it play in the mining sector?
AAMEG is the peak body representing Australian companies engaged in the development of Africa’s resource industry. These companies are spread out and sometimes geographically isolated, so one body that can help members work together and collaborate on difficult issues is welcomed.
Our 95 plus members are drawn from the exploration, mineral and energy development, professional services, government and resources services sectors. We also offer associate membership for African government participation.
Why is it necessary to have a peak body representing Australian companies in Africa’s resource industry?
Australian companies have been very active in Africa since the 1980s, albeit to varying degrees. There was a wave of new investment in Africa in the 1990s when opportunities in Australia became more restricted, although Australia went on to experience growth in the mining industry due to a large workforce and some of the world’s best exploration and mining technology. However, after the Australian mining boom, Australia’s excess workforce went overseas again to seek fresh opportunities, primarily in Africa and South America. Although Australian companies were not as present in Africa from 2012 to 2017, there has been another surge in investment over the past 18 months.
This high level of investment in Africa necessitates a peak body which can represent and assist Australian companies in Africa. When industry and government can understand each other’s priorities, companies have more incentive to invest and employ local workers. The government and citizens of the host country see a fair return for the extraction of their minerals.
What value do Australian companies bring to Africa’s resources industry?
Australian companies play a large role in furthering the use of innovation and technology in the African mining sector. Where these innovations improve safety and allow some technology transfer to the host countries, these technologies will have the ability to open up deposits that were once deemed impossible to mine.
AAMEG would like to see Australian mining companies in Africa known as being best practice partners.
For Australia the challenge is to be truly respected as competitive and competent players. In a fiercely competitive world, the way in which Australia is viewed can have direct economic and social impact in the host African countries.
Key Events for Australian engagement with the extractive industries in Africa