Speaking to Fin24 by phone, an upbeat Alex Grose - Mining Indaba managing director - said the weather was being uncharacteristically kind to him.
Grose, who arrived in Cape Town a week before the 2019 event, was in a buoyant mood, saying he expected a more robust crowd than ever before at the 25th Investing in African Mining Indaba, set to take place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 4-7 February.
According to Grose, 2019 will see the Mining Indaba - expected to host 6 000 delegates from around the world - change from being a platform for discussion to an event renowned for striking deals and securing investments.
The Indaba is under new ownership, having been taken over by London-listed corporate events giant ITE Group after its sale by EuroMoney.
Fin24 spoke to Grose to find out what would make this year different.
Fin24: What is your vision for Mining Indaba now that ITE Group has bought it from EuroMoney?
AG: They (ITE Group) want to run large-scale, must-attend events. We want massive events. We are still planning and establishing what this new ownership means for the Indaba in the long term. For now, we want to make the meeting a better event over the next few years.
Fin24: Tell us more about the re-branding of the Mining Indaba?
AG: The management team of the Mining Indaba is still the same. The commitment was to turn it into a deal-making and investment-focused event. Maybe in the past it may have lost that direction, so it is vital that we make the event about making deals and securing investment.
Regarding government's involvement, I don’t think we can make deals or secure any investment while moving away from government. Industry, investors and government are the golden triangle of what makes the Mining Indaba work.
Fin24: Run us through the themes, please.
AG: We could take three weeks to hold discussions on all the themes we cover. We spent six months researching what is important in the sector right now and going forward.
The big theme of the event, and the big shift is, it used to be where the world connects with African mining. That is still the case, but we want to focus on championing the sustained growth of African mining.
There is a big conversation that involves sustainability, and companies interacting with stakeholders like government and communities. We are looking to make a big stance on diversity and getting more women involved in mining.
Fin24: What has the mood been like since the last Mining Indaba and other, similar events?
AG: Generally, Mining Indaba is a good barometer of the industry. It’s at the beginning of the year and things are often upbeat. We cover the whole of Africa. We are seeing attendance numbers growing, with investors 11% up.
There is still an interest in investment in mining in Africa and that is good for all of us. In South Africa, there have been a number of challenges. Mining Indaba’s job is to bring everyone in the sector together.
There is a lot more to be optimistic about in the local mining space now. The current minister is very well respected and the mood is very positive around mining in South Africa, as it should be. [President Cyril] Ramaphosa’s presence shows a great commitment to the mining industry in South Africa from government.
Fin24: How did you manage to hook the high-profile delegates, like the president of Ghana?
AG: It’s not easy. It’s a balance. Ghana and SA are both interested in mining and committed. They both have a desire to attract investment. In terms of logistics, Cape Town is a great city to do this in. They are well-versed in handling heads of state and dignitaries. We may have more heads of state coming. Watch this space.
The gathering is an annual meeting of business, investors, government and labour in the mining sector, from Africa and around the world.
Follow Fin24's Mining Indaba's Special Report here