Top-tier Singaporean investment funds are frontline drivers of a new growth era in Australia’s $65 billion investment in developing Africa’s mineral wealth.The push comes as Singapore continues to sharpen its appeal as the emerging capital market and pivot point for fresh investment into the global mining industry – at the expense of longtime equity market darlings such as London, Hong Kong, Toronto and Beijing.It also comes after a contingent of Singapore’s leading fund managers made a strong appearance at the biggest mining conference on Africa outside of that continent – the 2013 Paydirt Africa Down Under forum in Perth in September this year. That intensive three day program – which attracts a bevy of Australian as well as African mines Ministers from at least a dozen “mining hot” African jurisdictions – is not only now the largest mining conference in Australia but after its 10 year history, is globally recognised as now the “place to do business if that business is about mining in Africa”. The potential for Singapore’s fund managers to create new partnerships with Australia’s established players in Africa is such that it has captured the attention of the Australian High Commission, Africa Down Under Convenors, and an initial trade delegation of Perth-based mining chief executives and resource developers already in Africa. Their focus will be an inaugural one day forum in Singapore today to be addressed by the High Commission’s Ambassador to Singapore, Philip Green. “There is little doubt that Singapore is eager to power ahead with its investment in Africa as that continent hosts 11 of the world’s Top 20 fastest growing economies,” Green said. “And Singaporean investors and wealth funds are showing an appetite particularly for the opportunities to link into Africa’s massively under-developed mineral resources and associated infrastructure,” he said. “What has emerged during this heightened market attitude is an awareness that one of the soundest ways to secure a play in Africa’s resources sector is to leverage off the respect, history and experience of Australian miners already in Africa.”
Green said the intention of today’s forum was to begin crystallising how the Commission, Africa Down Under, Australia’s African focused miners and Singapore’s equity investment masters, could corral this market opportunity into a long-term mutually beneficial alliance.Africa Down Under Convenor, Bill Repard, said Australian explorers and mine developers had been at the forefront of partnering Africa’s growth of its resources sector in the past two decades. “Like their peers internationally, however, Australia’s resources players have faced increasing domestic challenges in raising development capital for their greenfields and advanced African projects and are now increasingly sourcing such backing from overseas investors who are transparent and share the same investment and development vision,” Repard said. “The potential for Singapore to become a pivot point for equity supply to these African-focused Australian companies is very strong. “This segment of Australia’s mining fraternity has invested around $40 billion to date in co-developing Africa’s vast mineral wealth and its mining industry, has a further $25 billion or so in projects on the drawing board and is well respected and welcomed by Afrcia’s mining and government fraternities. “Mining investment into Africa is certainly set to continue. Africa Down Under has seen this grow from a handful of gold and base metal projects of the 2003 era to now an array of iron ore, uranium, potash, graphite and oil and gas projects.” Repard noted that while there was now widespread evidence that global competition for a piece of involvement in mining projects on the African continent was more acute than ever, it was the pioneering efforts by Australian resources companies in Africa and their reputation for good mining business practice, community engagement and successful project development, that was appealing to the Singaporean fund managers. Green, appointed Australia’s High Commissioner to Singapore in November 2012, has previously served as High Commissioner in South Africa (2004-2008) and in Kenya (1998-2000). He is the recipient of an Order of Australia Medal for his role in the response to the Bali terrorist tragedy.