Cape Town - The Mother City is the scene of the 19th annual Investing in Africa Mining Indaba.
In a step change from previous years, mining is not just another industry but, rather unamusingly, the canary in the coal mine for South Africa, and quite possibly a bellwether for the rest of the resource-endowed continent.
Mining conference highlights are usually the lanyard colours (yellow, if you were wondering) but this mining indaba is infused with an energy that is palpably different form the run-of-the-mill industry conference of its type.
It seems that the mining industry is taking this conference as an election campaign, with a giant outdoor billboard greeting visitors exiting the airport with an affirmation that Anglo American [JSE:AGL]
is building 23 000 houses as promised. View gallery
Kudos to Anglo for taking the fight to the streets; it would be great for government to follow suit and brandish its own achievements, followed by the "as promised" slogan.
Attendees are predictably a mix of representatives from the mining, mining services, financial, consulting, government, energy and academic worlds - mining as always brings together the pinstriped suits and the two-tone shirts in the harmonious pursuit of getting rocks out of the ground.
This year, people from 100 countries across six continents made their way to Cape Town to discuss rocks in the ground. Of those, 57% are from Africa, 18% from Europe, 12% from Australia, 8% from North America and, surprisingly, only 5% from Asia.
Rock enthusiasts are visiting from as far afield as Burundi and Papua New Guinea, with unlikely mining regions such as Mauritius, Luxembourg, the Jersey Channel Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Virgin Islands and Switzerland in attendance.
The mining indaba is a popular destination especially for industry participants from the northern hemisphere, who require little arm-twisting to spend a sunny week in the Fairest Cape.
For possibly the first time in recorded history, Red Hot Chili Peppers fans and mining execs have bumped heads, with both tussling for hotel rooms in Cape Town this week.
This year sees over 1 800 international companies represented by 7 500 participants attending. The event also gives a hearty boost to the regional economy, with 20 000 hotel room nights sold this year.
Regardless of the direction of SA mining, it is heartening to note that mining revellers over the past five years have parted with a hefty R336m while attending the indaba.
*Jarred Myers is a resources strategist. Follow him on Twitter on @JarredMyers
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