Press Release: Menell calls for engagement in resource nationalism

6 December 2011, Press Release

Brian Menell, chief executive of the Kemet group of companies, has recommended the mining industry embrace resource nationalism, rather than fighting it.

Mr Menell, whose grandfather, Slip Menell, founded the Anglovaal Group in South Africa, eventual employer of more than 80,000 people, took joint charge of that group’s mining assets in 1999, and has 23 years of experience in natural resource investment and project development.

Speaking at the keynote session of the Mines & Money conference in London, he foresaw the distinguishing factor for success in the future would be how mining companies respond to the challenge. Those that embrace the process would be the winners, while “those that put their head in the sand and hope it will go away” would lose.

“We as an industry”, he said, had a natural instinct to resist rigidly any increased state intervention, but doing so would invite enforced value transfers that would cost much more.

Mining companies should show respect to colleagues and officials in the host country, with a “genuine appreciation” of its position and culture.

He suggested the industry needed more political skills and strategic vision, aiming to set up sustainable and stable investment environments and avoid moving the “goal posts” of legislation, taxes and royalties.

A recent Ernst & Young report put resource nationalism at the top of a list of business risks for mining.