The South African mining industry is not a sunset industry, though it will continue its decline until there is a significant change in the relationship between industry stakeholders, such as government, labour and mining companies, states Paradigm Project Management (PPM) director Jeremy Clarke.
He mentions that, as the continued growth of civilisation will support the future mining of commodities, the global mining industry will continue to survive.
However, the challenges faced by the local industry are the result of inconsistent legislation – such as the new iteration of the Mining Charter – and a lack of confidence in government.
“South Africa is doing a very poor job in making it a suitable investment destination and this can be seen in a lack of investment,” PPM director Dave Porter tells Mining Weekly.
He highlights that investors are expecting a return on investment and, therefore, are looking to achieve some sort of result.
Although hopeful for positive growth after the 2019 presidential elections, Clarke notes that government and legislation are currently not the only factors at fault in the mining industry. Project management – when capital is made available for project execution through investment and funding – also plays a significant role in the survival and success of the industry.
“When a project is late, budgets are exceeded and functionality isn’t there – projects cost more money over a longer period of time,” Porter notes.
However, Clarke notes that a common belief in the mining industry is that money should not be spent on a project’s management, but rather on its construction.
He explains that project management should not be a grudge purchase and is critical to achieve positive outcomes such as the right scope, timeous delivery and return on investment.
PPM, through effective project management, corrects the project management industry’s poor record in achieving owner expectations while performing several roles, including direct execution for and on behalf of a project owner or complementing, replacing and strengthening an owner’s project management capability, Clarke states.
“Particular attention is given to the quality of project front-end loading and, therefore, the creation of a cost-effective and, ideally, fit-for-purpose solution for the business.”
However, Clarke explains that the company delivers effective performance through a model based on a network of associate relationships.
“We believe that our model provides us with greater consistency and sustainability through an emphasis on building relationships with our clients and associates, which avoids the creation of a transactional environment where the project success becomes subverted to other agendas,” Porter notes.
This model, Clarke believes, is essential when aiming to complete a project on time and within budget, as it brings the most relevant specialists to the project when required.
He explains that only the relevant and highly experienced personnel are applied to the project and deployed, which reduces project management costs.
The complete project team, he notes, includes PPM and the client’s internal team, which are fully integrated.
“The company’s mantra is ‘the project is the client’, therefore, ultimately, the business expectations are realised through a successful project.”
2018 Project Promise
Clarke and Porter enthuse that PPM undertook several projects for Aim-listed diamond mining company Stellar Diamonds and completed a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for its Tongo-Tonguma project, in Sierra Leone, late last year.
PPM has been appointed for the front-end engineering and design for the project, which should be completed within the first quarter of 2018, Clarke adds, with the mine expected to be in production by the second half of next year.
The PEA, Porter notes, was successful in deriving a strong economic case for the mining of the Tongo-Tonguma kimberlites.
In addition, PPM was appointed by Australia-based diamond mining company Kimberley Diamonds to complete an operational review of its Lerala mine, in Botswana, during the course of last year.
Following this successful assignment, PPM was appointed to provide maintenance and reliability services for a period.
“PPM is also currently involved in facili- tating investment for various projects by providing potential funders with technical and project support based on its deep experience as well as knowledge of various assets and its relationships with asset owners,” Clarke notes.
“We believe that we can assist with successful project management because we understand a mining client’s needs and the dynamics of the mining industry. Project management is the critical conversation between the investor and the owner of the asset (project),” Porter concludes.