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Where agriculture meets mining

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Where agriculture meets mining
Farmers in Africa can be assisted by mining companies in a number of innovative ways. Image credit: Ali Mkumbwa from Unsplash

Where agriculture meets mining

Mining companies in Africa are investing in agricultural projects to diversify the economies of rural areas.

By Leon Louw owner of WhyAfrica and editor of the WhyAfrica magazine

The primary industries of mining and agriculture share many similar characteristics. Both rely on the earth’s natural resources to be successful, and most mines and farming areas are located in rural and remote locations.

The location of a mine is determined by geology and where the best mineral deposits occur. Agriculture also depends on geology, as the underlying rock formations will determine the quality and type of soil on which farmers grow their products, and subsequently on the success of the endeavour. The inputs needed for farming projects, for example fertilizers are mined and retuned to the soil.

However, the most important input for both mining and agriculture is water, another natural resource, not always available in abundance.

Where agriculture meets mining
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Where agriculture meets mining

These two main primary sectors intersect in the rural farming areas of Africa, where subsistence and small-scale farmers have been operating for hundreds of years.

Here multinational mining companies, having the financial means, can assist local communities to increase production with better farming methods, to replenish the soil, to allow farmers access to electricity and water and to assist with irrigation.

In addition, mining companies should focus on building capacity in these areas through technical assistance and most importantly in access to finance and marketing.

Local farming communities will play a pivotal role in the success of mining operations as long as there is consistent communication, transparency, good will and an honest effort from the mining company to improve conditions, not only for the community, but also for the environment in which both these sectors have to co-exist.

A case study in the DRC where agriculture meets mining

A good example is the ProAc project, recently launched by Mutanda Mining and Equity-BCDC in the Lualaba Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

ProAc is a development project in the agrifood sector, focussed on empowering communities around its operations which aims to develop a sustainable agri-food sector that contributes to economic diversification, financial inclusion, food security, wealth creation and improved livelihoods.

According to Dominique Lumumba, Head of Equity BCDC’s Value Chain EquityBCDC, through its Social Investment Department, will provide technical assistance related to agricultural financing and access to credit.

“This financing will be given not only to the direct beneficiaries of the project, but also to Small and Medium Sized Enterprises and other players in the agricultural value chain,” says Lumumba.

Glencore Copper Africa operates two industrial copper and cobalt operations in the DRC namely the Kamoto Copper Company SA (KCC) – a partnership with Gécamines; and Mutanda Mining SARL (MUMI), in which the DRC Government holds a 5% stake.

Both operations are located near Kolwezi in the Lualaba province.

Where agriculture meets mining

Where agriculture meets mining
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AgricultureEnvironmental Management & Climate ChangeEnergyESGInfrastructureMiningPolitical EconomyTourism and ConservationWater Management