Writing and Marketing

Category: Articles and Reports Page 1 of 2

This category is for longer form copywriting, or portions of these writings. For those interesting in having freelance copywriting work done, these are just a few examples of projects I’ve contributed to.

Give A Mask Articles

For those who have been following the great work at GiveAMask, I have a pair of articles published on their site, that you can find here and here. It was great getting to write for them, so check them out, along with the rest of their website.

 

BetterLife

Just wanted to share another piece I prepared for a really neat company I worked with – BetterLife Pharmaceuticals. If you’re into Health or Medicine, they have a really killer portfolio of stuff getting ready for launch

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1tIYEoJ3lPYD7xUMqay6NOeGIk2l_krpY/view?usp=sharing

Gold Line

I want to share an article I did for Gold Line, courtesy of MarketOne. This was a great one to work on, and is interesting for anyone looking for mining investment advice in 2021 onwards.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1J7ZHx8zlz3yC9ovusO7QszktpC6QcmSu/view?usp=sharing

Rainmaker

The following is an article prepared for Rainmaker, a company that is doing a lot of good in the world with its water purification technology.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1EIOJTHBKg1OHB_xwF5IB5v0zF1CtL2pH/view?usp=sharing

TaaT Beyond Tobacco

The following article I did for Taat Beyond Tobacco for Sundar Capital – a really cool company with a really cool idea.

 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Qop1PkuvFz0sW9okfXlz1C0Payh6orgs/view?usp=sharing

 

 

Publishing and Self Publishing Industry Overviews

This article was prepared for investors looking into a self-publishing deal – its a high level look, but interesting. 

For the purpose of this report, I will be dividing the publishing industry into “traditional” publishing, and self-publishing. While many businesses do work in both industries, I feel that they are distinct enough entities to warrant separate examinations. The traditional publishing business seeks to balance physical and digital books, for example, while the self-publishing industry relies heavily, if not exclusively, on digital content. Traditional publishing tends to be dominated by a few massive companies, though also expands into areas that self-publish does not have much of a foothold in, such as the massive educational subsector. However, it is not quite accurate to consider self-publishing as simply the realm of smaller companies, as many large companies have carved out a stake in the space, most notably Amazon.

However, while covering the book publishing market, I will not be including certain other major facets of the publishing industry, namely newspapers, periodicals and magazines, which are more singular in the challenges that they face and the model of their businesses.

Traditional Publishing

Technically, the publishing business is as old as the written word – as soon as people began inscribing cuneiform on clay tablets, there were likely those who wanted to sell and buy this new product. This industry would always be a niche one due to the issue of scale, until the printing press arrived to allow for mass production. However, this early stage would not resemble the shape of the industry today, having greater vertical integration.

Modern publishing can be said to have started around the 19th Century, as the advancement of industry led to greater production capacity and cheaper materials, particularly paper. The 19th and early 20th century also saw the emergence of the large publishing houses that dominate the industry today. The business also started to lose the vertical integration it previously had, as more complex global supply chains were established.

The advent of the World Wide Web would prove to be as disruptive an effect on the publishing industry as the advent of the printing press by Gutenberg. However, the death of paper did not come as swiftly or completely as some analysts predicted, with there being enough of a dedicated niche audience for physical books to keep both large and small bookstores operational.

Largest Competitors in the Traditional Publishing Space  

The traditional publishing space is dominated by the “Big Five” publishers, companies that have long histories and often have merged into even larger entities. A brief summary of them will be given, as well as some other major players in the industry that may be more surprising.

It should be noted that all of these listed companies are in the habit of forming a wide variety of imprints to target specific sections of the market, creating elaborate brand families. Many of these companies have dabbled somewhat into the self publishing market, though that will be examined later.

 

“The Big Five”

It is common to hear talk in the publishing business of  the “Big Five” – this invariably refers to the five largest companies in the space, who all have worldwide recognition, or at least are the owners of universally recognizable brands.

Penguin Random House – A merger of the Penguin and Random House brands, PRH is owned by the German conglomerate Bertelsmann. PRH puts out over 15,000 books a year, as well as recording sales of about 800 million copies of print, audio and ebooks. PRH has an annual revenue of somewhere close to 3.3 billion, making it the largest publishing house in terms of pure revenue.

Hachette Livre – Hachette Livre is a French publisher owned by the French Lagardere conglomerate, which owns major subsidiaries in the UK, Australia and US. Hachette Livre puts out more than 17,000 books annually, with more than 90,000 titles available in digital format. Annual revenue of Hachette Livre amounts to about $2.7 billion. Though the name Hachette may not be familiar to North American readers, many of its subsidiaries such as Grand Central Publishing (formerly Warner Books) and Orbit are well known.

HarperCollins  HarperCollins is the product of a merger between publishing companies Harper & Row and William Collins, Sons, and is owned by the American mass media company NewsCorp. HarperCollins puts out more than 10,000 new books each year in 16 languages, and has a print and digital catalog of more than 200,00 titles. Annual revenue for the company is at about 1.5 billion.

MacMillan Publishers – MacMillan is under the umbrella of the German Holtzbrinck publishing company, recently being integrated into Holtzbrinck’s “Springer Nature” subsidiary. MacMillan has reported annual revenues of around $1.4 billion.

Simon and Schuster – Simon and Schuster is a publisher owned by National Amusements, through the well known Viacom CBC media corporation. Simon and Schuster publishes approximately 2500 titles annually and has an annual revenue of about $830 million, making it the smallest of the “Big Five”

 

Educational Publishers

When one thinks of major publishers, the “Big Five” of retail publishing are what come to mind, with their books, or books of their subsidiaries, making up much of what you would find within any major book retailer. However, nearly as massive an industry is that of educational publishing – historically, many have called Scholastic the “Big Sixth”, and many educational publishers match or outdo the revenue of retail publishers.

This makes sense when you realize that educational publishers have a captive audience in most cases, as students or schools cannot operate without textbooks – if one has ever had to buy textbooks for college, they know what a great racket the university textbook business can be. Beyond university textbooks, educational publishing can also target the school system or those looking to study for entrance exams for undergraduate and graduate programs.

While selling physical textbooks has always been a good deal, many education publishers are often heavily moving into digital models, often through their own websites and programs, or through affiliated systems set up by universities. While profitable, the educational market can be viewed as more controlled.

Listed are some example annual revenues of Educations. It should be noted that while Wiley does engage in some more traditional publishing, they are best known for their extensive test prep materials, as well as owning the company that produces the ubiquitous “for Dummies” manuals. Oxford University Press is also a unique case for being associated with a single institution.

Scholastic: $1.7 billion

McGraw-Hill: $1.7 billion

Wiley: $1.7 billion

Cengage: $1.5 billion

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Annual: $1.4 billion

Oxford University Press: $1.1 billion

Pearson Education: $1.0 billion

 

Other Notes

Apart from education, there are some other areas that are surprisingly profitable for publishing houses. Related to education is the industry of academic journals. Most notably, Springer Nature, sister company to MacMillan, makes most of its $1.9 billion annual revenue from the academic journal business.

Kodansha and Shueisha are Japanese companies that make their billion dollar annual revenues not from traditional print, but from manga. These numbers are especially impressive when you compare them to a major comic publisher in America, Marvel, which only makes about $320 million annually. The market for Japanese comics has grown worldwide as American companies focus more on managing film and television rights for their existing creations. English translations of the works of these publishing companies are also a source of major revenue – for Japanese manga that do not see translations into other languages, there is a good deal of revenue loss as readers turn to unofficial fan translations within the digital space.

Another sector of the market to consider is the $2 billion children’s publishing business. Consumers are picking up the fact that children’s vocabularies increase significantly from exposure to books, comparative to television. Children’s literature should not be discounted as a source of revenue.

In general, translations of existing books is an often untapped source of additional revenue, creating an entirely new experience from a book and opening it up to an entirely new market. Many other large publishers can make their bread and butter by acquiring the rights to republish a highly successful book in one language into another.

 

Importance of Copyright

To fully understand the traditional publishing business, there are a few aspects of the industry that warrant some more examination. Perhaps the most key of these is the vital importance of Copyright, the bedrock of publishing, as it were. Being able to secure the sole right to publish a work is what generally gives that work its value. The emergence of variable sorts of medium for a single work (such as the rise of ebooks) have greatly complicated the concept of copyright, with copyright claims now often involving multiple sections for all possible reproductions.

Acquiring subsidiary rights can often be very profitable as well – as mentioned above, a new country or territory can serve to be like an entirely new release for the book in question. While generally a book sells best for the audience it was originally targeted for, one should not underestimate cross-cultural appeal – in some cases books sell better overseas than at home. Translation rights are therefore an important source of revenue generation.

 

The Market

Many pundits have proclaimed the death of reading, under the belief that consumption of media is heading more towards the audio-visual, as started by television and accelerated by internet streaming. So far this does not seem to be the case – rather than killing off books, the digital age has simply fragmented the methods and mediums through which readers consume literature.

Compounding this fragmentation is the fact that the global market is very different from region to region in how they prefer to engage with these various mediums. This suggests that it is worth being able to understand how different foriegn markets approach reading. Perhaps the only constant within the market is that education is a good barometer of interest in reading. On average worldwide, college graduates are more than five times more likely to pick up a book than those with only a highschool education or lower.

As far as age demographics, older readers are more likely to own a dedicated reading device such as a Kindle, particularly those over the age of 40. Meanwhile, younger purchasers, brought up in the era of resurgent “pseudo-radio” in the form of podcasts are much more likely to purchase audiobooks – 48% of audiobook listeners are under the age of 35.

Despite major publishing houses being based in North America and Europe, the most prolific readers in the world are actually in South East Asia, with countries like India and Thailand topping the list. Division of media is also very different – about a third of all reading done in China, for example, is done through eBooks. In the US and Japan, it is close to a fifth, while in France, it is only a fiftieth.

 

Self Publishing

The market for independent authors is a growing one – with 1.68 million self published books available in ebook format, these books form up to 30 – 40% of all ebook sales. This is part of the reason it is good to look at self publishing as its own entity, as it is so closely tied to a specific medium of publishing. Self published works can be spread through a retailer, like Kindle Direct Publishing or the iBookstore, or through an aggregator like Scribd. Aggregators will distribute books to various partner retailers and libraries in exchange for a 10-20% commission on sales.

The largest player in the Self Publishing business is, by far, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, which both retails and publishes ebooks that can be read on Kindle devices, or devices with the Kindle app. About 80% of all English-language ebook sales are done through the KDP – surprisingly, self-published titles account for about 40% of that figure. That means that roughly a third of all self published material in the world debuts on KDP. Not only does Amazon own the KDP, but it also operates CreateSpace, a “vanity press” that allows for people to produce print copies of their novels, using a print-on-demand model, allowing it to capture more of the self-publishing market. Royalties offered by Amazon are flexible, ranging from 35%-70%

The next largest competitor in the ebook market is Apple, with its iBooks subsidiary, which has captured roughly 10% of the market, much smaller than Amazon but still a significant amount. Apple offers flat 70% royalties.

The third major competitor would be Barnes and Noble, via their Barnes and Noble Press (formerly Nook), which offers both ebook and print on demand publishing. As far as ebook sales go, it controls about 3% of the market. Royalties tend to range from 40%-65%.

The last major player in the business would be the Canadian Kobo, a subsidiary of the Japanese online retail company Rakuten, with roughly 2% of the ebook market (though, notably, with about 25% of the ebook market in Canada). Kobo makes up with its small size by partnering directly with bookstores and ebook retailers across the globe. Its royalties range from 45% – 70%.

Other more niche companies involved in the ebook and self-publishing business include IngramSpark, Smashwords, Draft2Digital, Lulu, BookBaby and Scribd.

Platform

As has been demonstrated above, the ebook market is closely tied into the self-publishing market, due to the digital platform providing a less risky way for author and publisher to approach publication.

As a medium the Kindle does seem dominant, especially since it has the Kindle App to cover its usage on other platforms. However, as technology improves, there is nothing to say that the Kindle won’t go the way of the iPod – just as the iPod was made irrelevant by newer models of phone, the Kindle seems to be overtaken by newer models of tablets. The Kindle is also having its market chipped away by a resurgence in traditional books, which have adapted to sell higher quality products to be as much about style as the content itself. The older demographics for Kindle also will prove to be on the decrease as their older customer base is slowly replaced.

The ebook space will still be an important and profitable one, especially for the self-publishing industry. Where exactly those self-publishing authors will go to share their works with the world remains to be seen.

Mining in Bulgaria

The following is a brief overview of the mining sector in Bulgaria, created as an intro for a longer project.

OVERVIEW

Bulgaria’s mining history has mostly been one of untapped potential. The nation has long been a frontier to other powers. To the Greeks it was Thrace, a land of fierce warriors. The Romans and Saxons both explored here and mined gold in small amounts, realizing the potential of the mineral wealth here. However, Bulgaria’s history would lead it down the path of being on the front line of many of the great struggles of history – between Russia and the Ottoman Empire, between the Allies and the Axis and between Capitalism and Communism. This all lead to Bulgaria’s mining sector to go mostly untapped, with the Communist government that emerged after WWII being not too interested in foreign investment in or local development of the mining sector. Through most of the 20th Century, the only gold mining project in Bulgaria was a single mine at Chelopech.

In the 21st Century, after the fall of Communism, this closed system began to open up, most famously through the Canadian Company Dundee, which acquired Chelopech and began extracting gold, silver and copper from that location. The potential for gold mining in Bulgaria in the 21st century has opened up to companies from Canada and further afield, as the untapped potential is realized.

MINERALS

The mineral resources of Bulgaria can be somewhat divided into two parts, encompassing northern and southern Bulgaria. In Northern Bulgaria, amidst lowlands and the Black Sea itself, there are huge deposits of fossil fuels – coal, petroleum and natural gas. Large gas and oil deposits have been found across northern Bulgaria, and into its EEZ in the Black Sea. Overall, these are notable but not huge assets – Bulgaria itself tends to rely on Thermal, Nuclear and Renewable sources for power.  In the mountainous south of the country, along the border with Greece, the major mineral resources are copper, zinc and lead. To a lesser extent this area also includes reserves of iron, manganese and gold. Out of these, copper is the most widespread and significant, though there have been many recent promising gold projects in the area.

JURISDICTION

After the fall of communism, Bulgaria progressed along the path to democracy, having achieved much greater stability, and has even become an EU member. Bulgaria is also strategically located at a nexus of rail and road connections throughout south-eastern Europe. The country has become much more open to foreign investment in its own sectors. Bulgaria has traditionally had a strong science and research sector. However, the country is still poor when compared to its EU compatriots. This had led to a significant “brain drain”, with Bulgaria being one of the, on average, oldest countries in Europe as many of its youth and students go elsewhere to seek educational opportunities and work.

 

 

Canadian Education and Fake News

While the internet has allowed for unprecedented levels of communication between people all across the globe, it turns out that we as a species were maybe not as interested in what other people had to say as we might have supposed. Increasingly, the rise of “fake news” provides online media consumers with narratives that they want to hear, rather than with objective facts. Adult Canadians have enough trouble picking out these deceptions, with over half of Canadians believed to have difficulties in determining a fabricated news story.

This is alarming in its own right, but younger Canadians still undergoing their education are less likely to have the needed reference points and background knowledge to identify fake news, though they may have better digital literacy than older Canadians.  In recent years there has been a concentrated effort to try and provide tools for critical thinking and recognition through educational programs.

While critical thinking was already part of the curriculum in many places, more modern versions require the addition of digital literacy courses, as purveyors of false information online have grown increasingly sophisticated. As well, in a shifting digital world, it is not only the information itself that needs to be examined, but its context and medium as well.

So, what are some new tools that educators can introduce to students to help them better understand this complex topic? Thankfully while the internet is the cause of many of the problems presented, it also offers a variety of solutions. Some are actual websites or programs that offer guides or services to better pick out the truth. Snopes.com is a classic example of this, and the Canadian government itself has launched spotfakenews.ca. Digital solutions can also include better understanding how to use the infrastructure of the web, such as better use of the “search by image” function of Google, to see if pictures are being used out of context.

One of the best uses of the classroom space is for teachers and students to examine fake news samples together and break it down to understand the methodology and purpose behind it. Many believe “fake news” is too broad a category, and should be divided into malicious disinformation, with a specific agenda, and misinformation created for the purpose of satire and irony. While creating information evaluation checklists to analyze media is useful, it is no replacement for practice through shared analysis.

The methods of manipulation of information are only going to become more and more sophisticated as time goes on, and Canadian educators must be ready to help newer generations of students navigate the changing media landscape. The tools we use must continually be monitored and updated to make sure they are relevant to the world we find ourselves in.

Inolife Article

Following is a link to an article I wrote for Inolife Sciences, via MarketOne. They were a really great client to work for and I’m very proud of how the article turned out!

Inolife Sciences is injecting innovation into the pharmaceutical market

Mining Report: Mali

The following is an article written for a mining publication of which I am particularly proud, being a preliminary report on the mining industry in the nation of Mali. 

Origins

In 1324, Musa I of the Mali Empire decided to undertake his hajj to Mecca, traveling across Northern Africa and the Middle East. Mali was a flourishing state, and the pilgrimage was as much an opportunity to showcase its wealth as it was a religious undertaking.

The event was so well known as to become legendary and accumulated the regular amount of vagueness of myth. It is said that he went out with 60,000 people in his procession, and a mass of animals including 80 camels. What was most memorable was, however, what they brought with them – supposedly over 20,000 kg of gold bars, and over 100 kg of gold dust carried by those same camels. Musa spent this wealth freely, supposedly funding a new mosque on every Friday, wherever they found themselves on their journey.

If the idea was to make people remember his passing, it worked, if maybe for not the right reasons. So much gold was given out in donations and gifts that it created a massive ten year gold recession. In cities like Cairo, Medina and Mecca, prices of goods massively inflated. (Musa reportedly realized his mistake and tried to borrow as much gold as he could carry on his way back at high interest).

The continuing popularity of this story serves to underline the connection that Mali has always had with gold, back from the medieval era. From Europe to the Middle East, it was a land associated with fantastical amounts of wealth. Time has not entirely reduced the glimmer of Mali, which is still the 3rd largest producer of gold in Africa.

The Mali Empire would fall to the Songhai, which itself would implode after defeat by Morocco, but the rumours of gold fascinated the French, who would colonize the area as French Soudan, gold heavy on their minds. France however, reached Mali relatively late, at the end of the 19th century. Its inland isolation meant that mining was often still done as “artisanal” or “traditional” mining, using very basic tools and methods.

Mali would join with Senegal to become independent of France in 1960, quickly splitting from that other country. One dictatorship was overthrown by another, and Mali was a difficult place for foreign investment up until 1991, when the March Revolution ousted Moussa Traoré. For the next 20 years, Mali stabilized somewhat. In 1991 a new Mining Code was also established to try and attract foreign investment. The mid-90s and early 2000s saw the opening of many new mines in the area. Between 1994 and 2007, national and foreign companies were granted around 150 operating licenses. Mining revenue would increase by about thirty times in this period. This increasing gold market was key in stabilizing Mali’s economy, which used to rely heavily on an unstable agricultural market, particularly cotton, and the government has a vested interest in promoting the industry.

Recent History

One of the most important companies to first enter the opened Mali was a Canadian one, IAMGOLD (most famous for the Rosabel gold mine in Suriname), which went public the same year it opened the Sadiola mine in west Mali in 1996. IAMGOLD would later partner in the area with AngloGold Ashanti, a merger of Ghanaian and South African mining companies. IAMGOLD (The IAM being short for International African Mining) would later establish the nearby Yatela in 2001. Sadiola continues to be the most productive mine in Mali.

Other companies would follow along in western Mali. Barrick would permit their Loulo-Gounkoto project in 1996, another large producer. B2Gold would also partner with AngloGold Ashanti to open Fekolo in the same area – in 2006, Endeavour would open the Tabako mine.

While the western border with Senegal is the site of many major mines, southern Mali also had some development. Barrick and Ashanti worked on the Morila mine which opened in 2000 and recently closed. One of the newest and most talked about mines in this area is Syama, operated by Resolute. Syama is touted as the first purpose built fully automated mine in the world. The land itself was acquired in 2004, with first development ore being delivered recently.

Mali is a country clearly divided by geography, with savanna in the southwest along the Niger river, and desert in the northeast. In the southwest the people often belong to one of the many Mande ethnicities (like the Bambara) and are generally sedentary farmers. In the northeast there are more nomadic groups like the Taureg. In the area in between there are also pastoralist groups such as the Fula.

In 2012 and 2015 respectively the Tauregs and Fula both began armed insurgencies against the government. These intertwining conflicts are complicated by the actions of Bambara militias who have escalated the violence. Jihadist actors from outside of Mali have attempted to use the chaos to further their own goals – however, the Bambara militias are accused of often fabricated the presence of jihadists to justify their own violent reprisals.

The conflict is highly complex and beyond the scope of an easy explanation. The upshot was that in 2012 the military ousted the President, displeased with how he was handling the crisis. During this instability, the Tauregs seized historical cities like Timbukto and Gao in the northeast and declared the creation of a new state, Azawad. The French military eventually got involved and forced the Tauregs to give up their new state and sign a peace with the government. This mostly served to turn the conflict from open warfare to acts of terrorism. While most of the terrorist acts are targeted at Malian military personnel in the northeast, in 2017 Islamic terrorists would attack a resort in the capital of Bamako, killing 5 people.

The main mining production in the affected areas are salt and maybe oil, not gold, and it is tempting to view the conflict as entirely separated from the border mining in the south and west, in the Kayes and Sikasso regions. This discussion of the conflict is more to demonstrate how Mali could still be vulnerable to unforeseen and rapidly emerging risk factors such as coups, ethnic disputes and terrorist attacks. Foreigners in the capital city are in danger of kidnappings or attacks despite its distance from the main areas of conflict.

 

Geology

Mali is a country that is defined by the Niger river which runs west to east through the nation. The country is also divided into east and west by geography, geology and culture. Eastern Mali is what springs to the popular imagination when one thinks of the country – desert, Tauregs and the famed ancient cities of Timbuktu and Gao. In this dry area, the main mineral wealth has been in the form of salt. Current conflicts, however, mean there is little in the way of development. Salt production has also generally decreased from the 70s. (The salt mines of Mali were notorious as being a place for political dissidents to be sent for forced labour).

Western Mali is often of greater interest from a geological standpoint. The south and west of this area, along the borders of Côte D’Ivoire and Senegal respectively, lie on the West African shield – a contiguous part of the famous Guiana shield on the other side of the Atlantic. This ancient Paleoproterozoic rock is the source of the mythical wealth in gold discussed earlier. As mentioned, Mali is only behind South African and Ghana in terms of African gold production (though Sudan is catching up).

Mali does have other mineral industries, such as kaolin, phosphate and limestone, but these are tiny industries compared to gold, which accounts for about 80% of mining revenue in the country. The government is eager to start up a petroleum industry in the old salt fields of the Taoudeni basin in the far north, with Algeria, Italy, France, Australia and China having all done exploration in the area. However, the remoteness of this location, harsh environment and recent conflict have all put a damper on the prospective oil industry.

While a gamut of other minerals has been found in Mali, there have been little dedicated attempts to survey for them or extract them, and more information would be needed before pursuing any of these potential industries. In particular, the government of Mali is interested in exploring mining of bauxite, manganese, lithium and uranium.

Mining Industry in Mali

Despite all this talk of fabled lands of gold, today Mali is mostly an agricultural nation. It exports fruit and sesame seeds, but its king crop is cotton, which accounts for about a third of all exports in the country.

As mentioned, however, the Malian economy suffered heavily due to fluctuations in the international cotton market, which sparked an interest in gold and the entrance of foreign companies. Gold is also important to Mali because it has an international market, whereas much of its agriculture is destined for its African neighbours. Conflicts in these countries can hurt the agricultural sector, in a way that the international gold market is more immune to. Gold makes up about a fifth of the Malian export economy – no other mining sector can compare. The only other mineral that even comes close is the mining of phosphates for fertilizers. The once vast Malian salt mining industry has mostly dried up by the current day. If you are going to Mali for any mineral, its gold.

Gold mining in Mali is divided into the small unregulated local industries and the larger foreign backed projects. The gold in the unregulated system often goes out on the black market. The unregulated gold mining industry in Mali has been a source of constant criticism for its use of child labour. The government struggles to properly measure and tax this “artisanal” mining.

The more established legitimate mining operations have a better reputation. The area where gold is mined in Mali is far from the conflicts that would threaten other mineral industries. Most of these companies are currently well regarded for their compliance with international mining standards in transparency and best practices. However, there has been some criticism that these mining companies do not produce enough local jobs, relying on foreign personnel, and have not done enough to compensate displaced locals. While Canadian companies like IAMGOLD tend to have good reputations, their local African partners like AngloGold-Ashanti often have black spots on their human rights records. (About a decade back, AngloGold came under heavy criticism when it was revealed just how many workers died in their South African mines).

Finding trained local personnel is difficult, however, due to the struggles Mali has in providing consistent education beyond a primary level. The country is also noted for not serving women very well in terms of education or employment rights, further limiting the talent pool.

The government of Mali is a mixed bag on reputation. They are invested in trying to grow the mining market in Mali due to how vulnerable their agricultural sector can be, as mentioned before. They are considered to be transparent when it comes to recorded mining revenues, apart from the difficulty in tracking artisanal mines. However, they have come under some criticism for not making the process of distributing licences transparent enough, and for not being as honest as they could be about how their mining revenues are spent – the people of Mali are often sold on mining by promises that the revenue will go to funding for healthcare and education, which the country is in desperate need of.

Despite a long history of gold production, most mining experts agree that the gold potential in Mali has only been barely tapped. Gold was so easy to get in Mali that only the most basic processes were needed, reflected in the continued artisanal mining industry. However, with more modern drilling and surveying techniques, a tremendous amount of gold could be accessed. A 2017 review estimated that of 133 potentially gold-rich reserves, only six had been fully mapped out.

Mali’s mining industry presents an interesting combination of challenges and opportunities, both for its people and foreign investors. The fabled cities of Timbuktu and Goa in the east have unfortunately fallen into disrepair and danger. However, in the west, the potential for greatness still lies buried. The legends of Mali as a land of fabulous amounts of gold proved to be a rare case where the myths were absolutely true.

 

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén