African Mining; Willing Parties Working Together (Interview With John Clarke) – Dig Deep – The Mining Podcast




In this episode John Clarke, a mining veteran shares his career journey working in Africa from the Ashanti Goldfields to Great Quest Fertilisers where he is currently the Chairman.   

This podcast is an opportunity to hear about how John has successfully worked in different countries and the vital aspects that must be considered when you are a guest in another country. 



  • Following postgraduate study at Cambridge, John Clarke began his career in South Africa. 
  • My goal was to do academic research in an area that I liked, and I was fortunate that I had many opportunities. 
  • In Ghana in the 1980s, significant changes were brought about by the government who changed laws to encourage investment and allow people to make a return and the Ashanti Goldfields became the showcase for this. 
  • In the mid-nineties we looked outside of Ghana and acquired 3 significant exploration /mining companies for 3 key assets and those 3 assets were brought into production and formed the basis for the bigger Ashanti. 

The assets were significantly advanced, and we had the skills and ability to raise funds. 

  • I had lots of opportunities with Ashanti and worked in many different areas and roles. As a result, I decided that I wanted to make my next move into the junior end of the market, and I moved to Nevson to fulfil this. 


  • What is it like working in Africa? 

Usually, you are working in somebody else’s country. To keep the support of the local government it’s important to be developing a local company which is recognised and accepted locally, employing local people and developing their skills 


In Africa, you are dealing with governments who want mining to be successful. 

Social responsibility is a keystone for any company working anywhere we all have to be within the communities we work and live in at both a local and national level.

Within the industry people do adhere to social responsibility, people do work on it and seek to improve things. 

  • What opportunities are there in Eritrea? 

Eritrea is frontier country again it’s wide open for business and there is the chance of new discoveries. There is a lot of good will at government and international levels. 

  • Have all your management roles been different? 

It’s all about the team. We can’t have all the skills for the job, we can’t be the ultimate expert in every area. We may have worked in the discipline and have a better understanding of what it entails but working as a team provides group expertise. 

  • What advice would you give to anyone wanting to move into senior position? 

I consciously went looking for experiences to further my career plan. I was able to study areas such as accounting that would never be my career, but the part-time studies gave me the chance to understand better how people worked in these areas as their careers. 

When I was first involved Great Quest was a gold mining exploration company with an interesting portfolio. They diversified into phosphates in northern Mali and the quality and grade were ideal for direct application fertiliser. 

Currently, the management of Great Quest is looking at a route for the direct supply of the fertiliser and associated products. 

They will produce eventually for a local market with a reasonable margin without having to bring in products from elsewhere. 



Mining will always be with us, society needs our product’   

‘Always obey the law, no shortcuts’   

‘It’s our job to let them know how we can do the job cleanly and efficiently’   

‘All companies are just groups of people working together’   

‘It’s a people business at the end of the day’   

It’s got a bad rap, because people don’t understand how many things are dependent on it’   

‘You can use downtime on a fly in fly out work contract to study acquiring new skills’   

‘There isn’t much that doesn’t require something that has come from mining’   

‘You are working as a guest worker’   

‘In Africa, you are dealing with governments who want mining to be successful’   

‘The bottom line is willing parties working together’   





Rob Tyson 

Rob Tyson is an established recruiter in the mining and quarrying sector and decided to produce the “Dig Deep” The Mining Podcast to provide valuable and informative content around the mining industry. He has a passion and desire to promote the industry and the podcast aims to offer the mining community an insight to people’s experiences and careers covering any mining discipline, giving the listeners helpful advice and guidance on industry topics. 

Rob is the Founder and Director of Mining International Ltd, a leading global recruitment and headhunting consultancy based in the UK specialising in all areas of mining across the globe from the first world to third world countries from Africa, Europe, Middle East, Asia and Australia. We source, headhunt and discover new and top talent through a targeted approach and search methodology and have a proven track record in sourcing and positioning exceptional candidates into our clients’ organisation in any mining discipline or level. Mining International provides a transparent, informative and trusted consultancy service to our candidates and clients to help them develop their careers and business goals and objectives in this ever-changing marketplace. 






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