Despite the current resources downturn, Australian investment in Africa is set to continue.

This according to Paydirt 2013 Africa Down Under Conference (Africa Down) Convenor, Bill Repard, who says: “What we are seeing 10 years on is that the handful of gold and base metal projects of the 2003 era are now being joined by an array of iron ore, uranium, potash, graphite and oil and gas project promoters and investors.”

Paydirt 2013 Africa Down Under Conference is Australia’s largest mining conference, kicks off on Wednesday, in Perth, Australia. A showcase for the $40 billion investment to date by Australian mining companies, explorers and suppliers, in co-developing Africa’s vast mineral wealth and its mining industry – and largest gathering in the world of Federal and African resources ministers and business heads outside of the African continent – the three day conference runs over two hotel venues in the Perth CBD.

The intense Conference programme, which has attracted at least three Federal Ministers and up to 16 African mining ministers, including prominent South African Minister, Susan Shabangu, comes just over a week before Australians go to the polls with concerns in the mining sector about resource investment incentives, resources taxation and complications with Chinese investment in troubled Australian resources projects – that investment, according to industry observers, now drifting more into African mining ventures.

Says Repard: “Australian mining companies are no longer the only ones on the ground in Africa. “There is widespread evidence that global competition for a piece of involvement in mining projects on the African continent is now more acute than ever.

“Primarily due to the early Australia pioneers, Australian resources companies in Africa enjoy and maintain a reputation for good mining business practice, community engagement and successful project development at a level yet to be surpassed by more recent inflows of miners and project investors from elsewhere around the globe.

“It is critical, however, that there continue to evolve a genuine understanding of the modern era issues confronting development of Africa’s mineral wealth. They include infrastructure challenges more severe than face Australia, some substantial changes in the past 12 months in many African countries on taxation regimes as they look to strengthen their economic base, and some ongoing nervousness about sovereign risk.

“It is to the credit of the Australian mining industry that in the past decade, it has worked in close partnership with its African stakeholders to mitigate the perceptions about these day to day factors of doing business across the continent but there are new global players entering Africa or eyeing Africa and this may alter in time, local perceptions about foreign miners operating in Africa.

“One thing is beyond question – much of the mineral footprint in Africa remains largely under-explored.

“For those who see mining as a long-term game, and can balance the potential upside with the risk downside, then the bridge between Australia and Africa’s mining powerhouses – particularly from the strong Australian element based in Perth – should grow at a time peak job and investment opportunities across Australia’s mineral commodities sectors are rapidly easing.”

Africa Down Under has this year attracted more than 2 000 delegates, a near sold-out capacity of 135 exhibitors and will see more than 60 presentations over the three days, including by senior African mining ministers.

This year Africa Down Under is also celebrating its 10th anniversary.

For the first time, the Crawford Fund is to co-host the annual Africa Australia Research Forum outside of Canberra, Australia, as a related run-up to the

Canberra’s respected fund believes international agricultural research holds the key to alleviating rural poverty in developing countries, particularly when linked to such economic drivers as mining. That programme is on Tuesday.

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