Welcome to the Arab African Mining virtual event. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’ve been an exploration geologist for 30 years and have worked on a variety of projects in numerous countries around the world. I now run my own mineral exploration consultancy in the UK – Sodor Geosciences (www.sodorgeo.com). In recent years the focus of my work has been in the Arabian Nubian Shield where I led the in-country team that took the Jebel Ohier Porphyry Copper Deposit in Sudan from a grassroots discovery to its maiden mineral resource. I’ve also worked on the Ad Duwayhi gold project in Saudi Arabia, and more recently have been looking at the potential in Egypt.
Do you see exploration activity being scaled back in Africa and the Middle East as a result of the pandemic?
International Covid 19 restrictions have impacted exploration activities but this is easing now and in time I believe things will get back to normal. Whilst perhaps not at pre Covid 19 levels drill rigs are turning again. The last few months have been a great opportunity for local staff to step up to the mark and show their capabilities whilst expatriate staff are stranded elsewhere.
What remains attractive about the Arabian Nubian Shield for exploration?
Gold has always been the big draw, but there are also significant copper and base metal deposits (lead, zinc, tin) as well. Politics and regulatory issues have been a main factor in holding back exploration in the ANS as a region. The current gold exploration licence bid round in Egypt is a sign of changing times and it will be interesting to see who is successful in getting licences.
We know that the Mining industry relies heavily on conferences and shows to drive investment and explore the latest technologies. How do you feel about attending a virtual event?
I think virtual conference attendance is here to stay and will become part of the mix for future mining conferences and events. There is some great IT technology available to make it work and I’m sure this will evolve with time. The cost savings on hotels, flights, visa’s, etc to attend an event virtually will be a benefit to many in these difficult times. The downside is the loss of face to face networking.
How do you see the mining industry changing with the shift towards greater ESG and sustainability?
It’s going to be fundamental. I can see financiers/banks/other lenders increasingly insisting on ESG compliance before funds are provided. Sustainability offers both opportunities and challenges. The obvious opportunity is the range of “green” commodities which are now exploration targets to deliver a low carbon future. Challenges come in a variety of forms, for example, developing mining operations in a stricter ESG environment and in a sustainable manner, how do we improve the conditions and the environment for artisanal and small scale miners, the need to develop and implementation of new sustainable technologies, can we leave a sustainable legacy once mining has been completed.