Dynamic Moore Stephens team shows it's open for business at this year's Investing in African Mining Indaba

A boost in commodity prices, an improved political outlook for South Africa and Zimbabwe and a greater appetite for investment in the mining sector has prompted new leads and partnerships for Moore Stephens. This follows the successful Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town.
Moore Stephens had a dynamic and diverse team at this year’s Mining Indaba in early February, with a record number of Moore Stephens partners and member firms attending the events in and around the Mining Indaba.
“To have such a presence from Moore Stephens across Africa has been a long-time goal and I feel this demonstrates our presence and service offering to the sector.  This is an amazing effort,” said Michael Simms, Mining and Energy Leader for Moore Stephens.
With an passionate and growing team, Moore Stephens was able to showcase its services to a wide range of people across the mining sector.  
“Partners went away with potential deals and leads for future work, ranging from due diligence, corporate finance, tax, sustainability and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) opportunities," said Moore Stephens Africa Strategy Advisor, Jeff Blackbeard.

Last year Moore Stephens expanded its member firm network in Africa and membership processes are well underway in Mali, Senegal, Togo, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Guinea Conakry. Cameroon, Senegal, Togo, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Tanzania.  Moore Stephens already has a very strong presence in countries like South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Mauritius, Seychelles, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Zimbabwe. Many of the member firms as well as clients had a presence at this year’s Investing in African Mining Indaba.  
Partners agreed that the mood at the Mining Indaba was more upbeat this year.
“We noticed a lot more people with serious or more advanced projects at the Indaba.  As commodity prices have improved, investor interest has been on the rise,” said David Tomasi, Mining Partner based at Moore Stephens Perth.
Expanding into the rapidly evolving sustainability space had also sparked opportunity.
“There has been a big push into environmentally sustainable mining. This continues to be under the microscope and may make all the difference in managing, operating and developing a leading mine. Our new service offering in the field of environmental and social sustainability means we are able to add real value to help our clients through the life cycle of their mining operations,” said Simms.
The winds of change slowly blowing across part of southern Africa also held promise.   
“Political changes in South Africa and Zimbabwe in particular are very encouraging. I certainly feel there is a lot of potential in Zimbabwe once things open up and investors are assured of geo-political issues, the robustness of regulations and protection for investors,” said Simms.
“There is definitely a more positive mood, with keen interest from our clients and partners, saying ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’,” added Blackbeard.
Director of Moore Stephens Africa, Margie Alt, said its network was in a good position to harness the great opportunities in African mining, particularly with the strong outlook for the sector.
“The power of the Moore Stephens network is connecting the right people to the right challenge in the right country,” said Alt.
The swift changes in the sector was a hot topic at the Mining Indaba.    
“There was a further increase in interest in base metals and commodities which form part of the ongoing battery technology debate, incorporating lithium and graphite, as well as a general buzz and expectation that the electric car will dominate in the future,” said Simms.
Tomasi said he was encouraged to see the particular interest in Africa shown by Australian mining companies in the graphite space. This could lead to potential business opportunities for Moore Stephens.
Blackbeard said interest in mining in Mali, Senegal and Burkina Faso dovetailed well with the Moore Stephens presence at the Investing in African Mining Indaba.
“We had partners from these countries at the Indaba. It worked well to connect the dots.”
Moore Stephens also plans to take on a more leading role in advising on international tax and transfer pricing issues when setting up mining operations in Africa. Blackbeard said this was likely to become a key focus for Moore Stephens in 2018. Mining operations have to consider some pertinent issues when setting up branches or companies in Africa in terms of cross-border relations.
Despite a brighter mood at the four-day event, there are still some serious challenges confronting the sector. Regulatory certainty was a theme running through many sessions at the Mining Indaba, with calls far and wide for African countries to be more transparent and clear with their policies.
The team also echoed the calls for clarity over South Africa’s Mining Charter.    
“From a South African perspective, clarity around the Mining Charter is the single biggest factor influencing capital investment into our mining industry.  I suspect that President Ramaphosa will give this a significant amount of attention,” said Olivier Barbeau, Moore Stephens South Africa Mining Leader based in Johannesburg.
“By all accounts the uncertainty has substantially restricted capital inflows into South Africa and we have fallen behind others on the continent,” Barbeau added.
Blackbeard said the volatility of currencies, appropriate use of technologies and an international focus on tax and transfer pricing were also likely to challenge the industry in the year ahead.
Despite obstacles, the team was positive about the overall prospects for mining in Africa, as well as its advisory role for clients.
“We have both the commitment and drive to develop our presence in all the key mining locations/countries to deliver a consistent and common approach, serving the needs of our global and African clients,” said Simms.