Whenever Canada is criticised for not prioritising Africa as an investment and trade destination, the mining industry is always mentioned as an exception. This is for a good reason. Canada leads the world in mining investment in Africa with 33 companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) showing the way. Their combined assets in Africa total nearly US$8bn.
According to Denis Legace, the director-general of Natural Resources Canada, a whopping US$46bn is set to be poured into mining ventures in Africa by Canadian-capitalised companies in the next three years.
A huge chunk of this investment is coming thanks to the promotion efforts of a Toronto-based business development company, MineAfrica, whose main focus is promoting mining investment in Africa.
Since its launch in the late 1990s, MineAfrica has been at the forefront of promoting investment in the African mining sector through its annual "Investing in African Mining" (IAM) seminars held alongside Toronto's prestigious Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference every March.
MineAfrica's efforts account for about $17bn of the $46bn new mining investment into Africa by 2010, making it the leader in the Canada-Africa investment promotion syndicates. But the company is not satisfied with its huge success so far and it is adding more promotion programmes to its calendar.
Capitalising on the fact that South Africa is by far the major destination of its investment efforts, MineAfrica used this year's IAM seminar to hold an experimental discussion to examine the pros and cons of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) in South African mining. The experiment was a huge success. Not only was it oversubscribed by the "who is who" of Canadian and South African mining, it also attracted mining companies from neighbouring countries such as Namibia and Zambia. "Now we have decided to make it an annual event alongside IAM seminars," said MineAfrica's president, Bruce Shapiro.
But that is not all, the company has been invited to take the IAM and BEE seminars to London, Toronto's bitter rival when it comes to mining finance and foreign investment. The two seminars will be held in the same week as the Mines and Money annual global mining finance conference.
"That gives the participants the chance to interact during the best two mining investment shows of the year," says Darryl Levitt, a mining analyst in Toronto.
There is more, "by popular demand", MineAfrica...