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MINING INDABA 2017 52 E&MJ • MARCH 2017 www.e-mj.com 12 mines either working or being built," he said, pointing to a colorized map at Ni- ger's booth, crowded with grids that refer- ence spoken-for claims. A fresh entrant into the resource game is Ethiopia, which apart from quarrying has almost no significant mining at all. The country is now largely dependent on agriculture for exports and its gross do- mestic product, Motuma Mekassa, the minister of mines, said. "We are the fastest growing economy in Africa, but we cannot hope to keep this up if we only depend on agriculture," he said. "By developing our natural resourc- es, we believe our economy will keep growing, and that by 2025 will be a mid- dle income economy." The country has proven resources of gold, diamonds, coal and potash, among others. However, lack of electricity has hin- dered development. This, Mekassa said, would soon change as the giant Grand Re- naissance Dam hydro scheme comes on- line in 2018. Ethiopia intends to become a major power producer and exporter into the region, and the additional electricity will also open up the mining sector. The entry of new countries into the re- source sector is attracting interest from contractors as well. Dubai-based Alta- aqa Global, part of Saudi Arabia's Zahid Group, considers them a part of its future growth. The company provides instant power stations, using container-sized gas or diesel-fired generators. "We've worked in Iraq and Yemen, so if we can survive those places, we can do business anywhere," said Majid T. Zahid, chief commercial officer. The company has offices in Kenya and South Africa, but sees real opporunity in the Islamic Belt. "We are looking at West Africa very se- riously," Zahid said. "It is a region where countries want to develop their natural re- sources but lack electricity. This is where we can help." Green Shoots Tim Biggs, metals and mining leader at Deloitte in London, joined the chorus of positivity. "The mining sector has been through a massive long burn, caused by the collapse of major commodity prices," he said. "Change, however, is in the air." "This year, we've seen a significant rebound in base metals such as iron ore and coal," he said. "Also for lesser met- als such as zinc. All the indications are of green shoots." The looming Brexit was unlikely to change London's position as the center of mining finance, he added. The city would remain the premier destination for juniors and majors seeking capital. Most of the large companies were there. Smaller mar- kets such as Toronto and Sydney would also stay important, but these were better suited to smaller entrepreneurs, he said. Engineering firms were also seeing an improvement in market conditions. "It is heartening to see signs of re- vived interest in prospects for mining in various parts of Africa," said SRK Con- sulting partner and principal consultant, Andrew Van Zyl. "These prospects will be well-served by acknowledgements in both the private and public sectors that mines are complex undertakings that rely on real collaboration and partnerships." He said the discussions at Indaba about South Africa were often quite dif- ferent to those about the mining future of most other African states. "While South Africa is concerned main- ly with sustaining an aging industry — with its attendant challenges of productiv- ity, viability and competitiveness — most of the continent must address issues like infrastructure, logistics and developing Technology was another theme of the Indaba conference as mining companies seek ways to improve safety, pro- ductivity and reduce costs. Indaba organizers say this year's event showed a slight improvement in attendance due to lower fees for delegates.