Exclusive interview with William Witham, CEO of AAMEG, the Australia-Africa Minerals & Energy Group, a supporting association of the upcoming East & Central Africa Mining Forum in Kigali in October.
Let’s start with some background on AAMEG (Australia-Africa Minerals & Energy Group), its members and its goals.
a. The Australia-Africa Minerals & Energy Group is the peak body representing Australian companies engaged in the development of Africa’s resource industry. Our 95 plus members originate from the exploration, mineral and energy development, professional services, government and resources services sectors.
b. Our goals are:
i. To provide Advocacy, Insights and Connections for Australian companies operating in Africa »
ii. To support our members to be successful in Africa
Any specific projects in the mining sector that you are involved in currently that you are particularly excited about at the moment?
Despite all the challenges that Africa can present, we are finding that our members are having success in Africa at the moment. Many are raising funds for exploration, buying new projects and running sustainable community development programmes. It is interesting to note that there is a lot of M&A activity.
Base Resources are expanding their Kenya Minerals Sands operations and developing a new project in Madagascar. Some countries, however, are becoming increasingly difficult to work in and this means that some of our members are looking at new destinations to explore and develop. These include many countries in East and Central Africa.
Tell us more about AAMEG’s interests in the East & Central African regions. And in Africa at large?
We have members in Tanzania, Malawi, Kenya, Sudan,
How important is sustainability, responsible mining and eco-friendly practices on the ground for the company?
One of the main reasons that AAMEG was formed was to directly address these issues. We promote both good practises for new entrants into Africa and promote the good work that is already being done!
How excited are you about the mining opportunities in Rwanda and the region?
AAMEG is very excited about the upcoming prospects for Rwanda. The value-adding of mineral products such as gold, tin, and other metals is a good move for the region and provides important service for those primary industries operating in the region. With CHOGM happening in Kigali next year, we expect to see an upsurge in investment into the future.
What advice would you give a prospective investor in this sector in the region?
– Social licence to operate should be the first consideration of any project
– Have a good local partner
– Structure your business in the correct way
– Seek to understand local culture and traditions before you start
– Be patient and enjoy the experience!
What is your vision for mining in East Africa?
I foresee a modern integrated industry where there is free trade across borders, where the people share in the wealth, reducing poverty through better access to clean water, education and food for the whole region. This increase in prosperity should reduce the amount of civil conflict and allow the people and environment to flourish.
What surprises you about this industry?
The high level of ingenuity to solve problems.