It's your own indaba

Jonathan Moore
Jonathan Moore.jpg

The man behind the world’s largest mining investment event is a dynamic New Yorker with the gift to bring people together in an informative and collaborative way to share knowledge and opportunities.

Jonathan Moore has been a difficult man to get hold of over these past few weeks, as the largest mining event in the world drew closer. With deadlines looming at the beginning of 2014, the editor’s instruction was clear: Jonathan Moore is a must for this, the ‘mining issue’. After much to and fro, Leadership tracked Moore down in New York for an exclusive interview — days before the 2014 Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town.

The  20th annual Investing in African Mining Indaba™ will see international businessmen and -women from around the word come together in what is known to be the world’s largest mining investment event.

Jonathan Moore has been the Managing Director and Vice president of Investing in African Mining Indaba ™ since 2009 and this year he proudly heads up the event as we celebrate 20 years of democracy. Investing in African Mining Indaba™ is an annual professional conference dedicated to the capitalisation and development of mining interests in Africa. His success over the past couple of years since his involvement has been a good reflection of his capacity for bringing people together in an informative and collaborative way to share knowledge and opportunities.

Growing up in New York, he attended a state university and after completion of his studies went on to work as a financial consultant for Smith Barney. After a few years in the financial sector he found himself heading for the events industry where he developed conferences for financial executives. Reflecting on his personal life, a feeling of contentment with family and holiday comes to mind. “I have a wonderful wife and two daughters. They are truly amazing and they make everything in my life work,” he says. His love for travelling has taken him to many destinations with an attitude that denotes keen enjoyment. “I can have fun just about anywhere. I enjoy the islands and have been to the Caribbean many times. I also enjoy the significant time I have spent in South Africa, most specifically my trip to the Kruger National Park,” Moore says.

When it comes to pastimes, he mentions a keen love of sports and highlights running and swimming as some of his favourites that he engages in.

Reflecting on his career, he feels that the experience he has gained by working in the financial consulting industry has given him the knowledge and insight to take him into the arena of events management tailored for this industry.

“My first job was a financial consultant with Smith Barney. There I learned the financial markets and took that knowledge to a conference company developing events for finance executives. I have been building events of various kinds ever since. I joined the parent company of the Mining Indaba in 2007 and have been responsible for the Mining Indaba since 2009,” Moore says.

When he speaks of his professional achievements and the road to success, he feels that it is closely tied in with the principles of enjoying what you do and the importance of learning as your progress.

“I have been truly blessed in my career. If I did not enjoy what I do, I would not do it. I have learned something significant at every step along the way. I was taught very early to work hard and never hurt anyone. Giving my best in whatever I do and be proud of it is reward in itself,” he says. He feels that other young or up-and-coming entrepreneurs could do well by heeding the importance of hard work and preparation. “Work hard and always be prepared. Preparation in the events business is everything and that translates to just about every industry. Hard work and preparation can make all the difference.”

Moore sees the significance of a 20th Mining Indaba as a direct example of what 20 years of post-apartheid means in South Africa. “Mining Indaba represents the benefit of what a country can do when it tears down its walls and allows the world to experience all the riches it has to offer. Twenty years ago, South Africa freed itself from the grip of apartheid and established itself as a global beacon for democracy and growth. And in that year there was also a small group of people that came together (at the Cape Sun Hotel) with a shared vision for the accelerating mining investment on the African continent, and the Investing in African Mining Indaba™ was born. Mining Indaba was acquired by Mining Indaba LLC in 2005 and I assumed the leadership of the Mining Indaba in 2009. We quickly recognised there were many elements that could be aligned in a very opportunistic time to make Mining Indaba the destination where the world connects with African mining,” he comments.

He further mentions that elements such as the booming growth of secondary markets that make it possible for mining to thrive (transportation, logistics, water, power, etc.) and reaching and connecting with the various African governments and groups to include their participation on a more formal platform, will ensure that this event makes the 2014 Mining Indaba the prime location for all things African mining related.

“The biggest goals for Mining Indaba are to continue to meet the expectations of the estimated 8 000 global professionals who come to the conference with set deal-making initiatives. We want to continue to help cultivate interest and investment into junior mining companies so that they too can escalate into major players on the continent.

“And even beyond looking at creating an unparalleled networking and discovery experience in African mining, our main goal is to continue to garner global awareness of the many ground-floor and lucrative investment opportunities on the continent,” Moore says.

When we look at the speakers who are invited to the Indaba, he mentions that the Mining Indaba programming team works to identify a combination of global game changers and thought leaders who share a holistic view that can touch on regional and national policy, macro-economic policy and industry insights.

“Through months of research, interviews and suggested feedback from our audience, the programming team undertakes a rigorous search of potential candidates and ultimately selects those individuals who would bring a very fresh and practical perspective to the event. The end result is selected speakers who can best provide a vision and diversified perspective in the critical areas of the African mining value chain and the global economics directly impacting African mining. Therefore we strive for a very balanced and comprehensive speaking faculty including: macro-and micro-economic experts, commodities analysts, mining executives, investors, policy leaders and other stakeholders to provide our delegates with a full perspective on today’s African mining industry,” Moore comments.

The importance of the Indaba to South Africa’s economy is indisputable. Moore feels that looking back over the last 19 years, Mining Indaba has become a pathway to channel foreign investments to South Africa and the continent. He mentions that the week of Mining Indaba is the only place where deal making and discovery for African mining occurs on this scale.

“All the key players in African mining – investors, mining executives, government leaders, analysts, and other stakeholders – are present. Because of the limitless opportunities one can discover from any point in the African mining value chain, the world has made this the destination for anything for African mining. Further beyond African mining, Mining Indaba’s growth has contributed significantly to the growth of the local Cape Economy,” he says.

Moore further notes that the thousands of professionals who will be present during the Mining Indaba will also be a strong economic driver for local restaurants, hotels, tourism activities and other business that could benefit through professionals with purchase power. He mentions that based on the economic census provided to the organisers from its partners in Cape Town, it is estimated that R485 million has flowed directly to the local Cape Town economy as a result of the Mining Indaba and that 3 750 jobs have been created in the period from 2006 to 2013 alone.

The Indaba also has significance in bolstering intra-continental solidarity and growth. “In 2014, we are seeing greater interest and participation from African governments at the 2014 Mining Indaba. This harmonisation of these countries is critical to helping Africa become a major economic player in the future. The harmonisation of these countries is an advantageous characteristic on a competitive landscape and makes it more welcoming for foreign investors to spread their strategy and investments across cooperative countries rather than having to deal competing nations and isolationist with methodologies.

“As organisers we have been impressed with the level of cooperation and interest from the African government delegations to want to work together and participate at the annual Mining Indaba,” he says.

Among the topics that will be discussed at the Indaba, Moore feels that there are a few main themes that will take centre stage. The most prevalent, he anticipates, will be that Africa continues to be an attractive and excellent investment opportunity in the sector.

He mentions that all indicators show that FDI is expected to grow in 2014 and 2015, driven by the expected increase in demand from rebounding economies such as China and Europe. With this in mind, they have launched the first Mining Indaba Investment Discovery Forum, which will take place on 1 February 2014 at the Westin Hotel in Cape Town. This exclusive event will showcase emerging opportunities from solid junior mining houses operating on the continent.

When asked about the players in the industry and his impressions of the current leaders we are seeing heading up the market, he feels that there are certainly challenges that face us, but  he feels our leaders are competent. “I have been quoted in the past saying that the issues facing the market are challenging, but that I feel that the collective leadership of our industry is imminently equipped to address those challenges and I firmly believe in that sentiment.”

When commenting on the future of Mining Indaba, he says that regardless of how the African mining industry evolves, the Indaba will remain true to its core mission, “to serve as the focal point for capitalisation and development of mining interests in Africa”.

“We expect the Mining Indaba each year to take on new themes and address current trends as the industry develops. But we expect Mining Indaba to continue to serve as the destination for all that is African mining, to continue to bring the global investors and financiers the world’s largest mining houses operating on the continent and to continue to bring global awareness to the investment opportunities on the continent.

“One of the trends we hope to nurture and see develop is bringing awareness to the many up and coming junior mining houses on the continent and give them the opportunity to become a major player on the continent. This development will not only benefit the mining industry but will also inspire younger generations to continue to want to study mining and see that small ideas can become big successes.”

When asked about the factors that he deems important to success in his industry, he links back to hard work, preparation and learning. “I think that this is where hard work and preparation are the key factors. I have also found that as I work with various industries be it mining, banking, financial services, being open with the leaders in those industries on the need for them to share their expertise with me to help me gain knowledge in the field. I have found them to be amazingly forthcoming in that regard and it has allowed me to learn a tremendous amount."

In terms of the footprint he would like to leave in the sector, he feels it is important to just be known as a person who gets the job done. “In the media business it would be nice to just be known as a person who gets the job done. In the Mining sector most especially in Africa, I hope that the legacy of the Mining Indaba will help in part open the world to the wonder that is the African Continent.”

The Mining Indaba has been the catalyst for billions of dollars of foreign investment, which has had tremendous impact on the development of the continent overall. “We are working on some very specific objectives with our Mining Indaba Ministerial Symposium to help advance the Mining vision on the continent, harmonise practices across the region and ultimately advance the entirety of Africa. That would be a wonderful legacy to leave for the next generation.”

Considering the various kinds of people that one needs to make an event of this magnitude come together and be a success, a leader in connecting people is certainly a valuable asset.

Jonathan Moore has been one of these connecting figures who have brought together an assortment of mining professionals who will seek to explore Africa’s many untapped riches and take the continent to greater heights as we share our resources and become more economically integrated with the rest of the world.

Michael Meiring

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