Gauteng-based mine planning and engineering consultancy Ukwazi grew by 29% in 2015, exceeding its average growth rate of between 22% and 23% recorded over the previous five and ten years.
According to Ukwazi director and principal mining engineer Jaco Lotheringen, the company’s formal study teams continued to perform well over these periods in their delivery life-of-mine (LoM) plans and feasibility studies for openpit mines, collieries, caving and mechanised underground and narrow tabular underground mines and projects.
He tells Mining Weekly that broadening the commodities and mining methods on which the company focuses has lessened its risk of exposure to the current downturn in the mining industry.
“In 2015, 30% of our work dealt with coal and 50% with iron-ore, manganese, diamonds and platinum-group metals. The remaining work consisted of copper, gold, gemstones, aggregates, heavy minerals and chrome projects,” Lotheringen outlines.
Ukwazi attributes its growth rate in 2015 to the addition of specialist study teams over the years, each spearheaded by a strong, qualified and appropriately experienced leader who has access to an experienced “engine room of specialists” in the specific services offered by the company.
“The first team in the specialist study stable is the turnaround and on-site mine-planning team, which specialises in improving the production of openpit mines and coal mines,” he explains.
The compliance-reporting team is responsible for compliance-related studies, which include public technical reports and valuations in compliance with the guidelines of the local and international reporting codes of disclosure of mineral resources and ore reserves due diligence studies and the delivery of mine works programmes; and other local regulatory studies and due diligence studies.
The last specialist study team within the consultancy is project management, which comprises mining specialists who are versed in the control of a range of projects, from feasibility studies to exploration programmes and mining software systems, including the speci- fication requirements and implementation thereof.
The on-site mine-planning team also undertakes on-site short and medium-term mine planning services when it is not engaged in helping mines improve their production efficiency.
“The advantage for clients is that they have access to about 40 experts, comprising mining engineers, mine planners, cost specia- lists and project managers, permanently employed within Ukwazi,” states Lotheringen.
Ukwazi’s services for local projects include performing resource and reserve reviews that comply with the South African Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves, which provides minimum standards, recommendations and guidelines for public reporting of exploration results, mineral resources and mineral reserves.
The consultancy also conducts conceptual studies, project optimisation scenarios as well as LoM plans and reserve estimates for openpit mines from iron-ore mines in Turkey and copper mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to gemstone mines in Zambi, bulk mineral mines in the Northern Cape and mineral sand mines in Madagascar.
He adds that the consultancy’s simple and pragmatic solutions focus on establishing a process that the client can easily maintain. The process is based on transparency, aligned with objectives and relies on collaborative execution of the plan.
Ukwazi has enjoyed a record of more than ten years in maintaining and expanding its market share of projects in sub-Saharan Africa, owing to the consultancy’s familiarity with the mining methods and style of mineralisation of local mines and mining projects.