While some Australian miners are considering foraying into Africa, KPMG is warning them to proceed at their own risk.
KPMG South Africa mining partner Ian Kramer warned them at the first day of the three-day Paydirt Africa Down Under conference in Perth that access to capital is difficult for junior miners that seek growth opportunities in the continent.
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Besides the slowdown, there are the additional risks of labour unrest and violence which caused the closure of an iron mine and the death of 44 people in early August.
To assuage over 2,000 potential investors who are attending the event, South African Mining Minister Susan Shabangu assured them of the stability of the mining sector in the continent.
"The president and people of South Africa are determined to isolate bad elements in our society that are seemingly committed to undermine the democratic gains of the country to date," Reuters quoted the minister.
Besides Ms Shabangu, 16 other African resources ministers and mining department heads are in Perth for the conference which was opened on Wednesday by Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr.
Peter Wilkes, partner at Allen & Overy, acknowledged that there is a potential slowdown of investments and individual project timelines, but it is still too early to say what would be the impact of global commodity prices on Africa's mining industry.
Among the groups that are pushing for more Australian mining into Africa is the Commonwealth Business Council which has set a $10-billion target of agreements to be signed this year. To provide the necessary push, the council plans to hold stage investment for a in Zambia, Nigeria and Mozambique in the next three months.
Despite his warning, Mr Kramer admitted African nations could not be ignored by the mining sector, especially among Australian mining firms which are daring and adventurous as well as keen on exploring new places.
"Africa is higher risk, but the rewards are potentially significant way more than what you would find elsewhere in the globe," Mr Kramer added.
He acknowledged that avoiding Africa is the higher risk since the rewards are potentially more significant in terms of gaining access to resource which companies could mine for multiple decades.
Mr Carr disclosed that over 200 Australian mining companies are pursuing more than 650 projects in 37 nations, 40 per cent of which are in Africa. The minister said Australia is committed to develop a long-term partnership with Africa in the spirit of co-operation and to protect its own national economic interest.
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