There is a growing need for multidimensional and multiskilled young geo-logists in South Africa, says Venmyn Deloitte director Neil McKenna.
He tells Mining Weekly that local universities need to rise to the challenge by producing multiskilled graduates who can develop the industry.
“Universities need to focus on other business aspects, much like engineering faculties do. There is a need to expand the geology curricula to incorporate basic financial and economic principles, mineral asset valuation, mineral resource management and reporting compliance. Doing so would go a long way towards bridging the knowledge gap,” says McKenna.
Expressing similar sentiments, Venmyn Deloitte MD Andy Clay says the need for multiskilled employees has spread to companies across the mining industry. He mentions that financial services companies need to be able to offer mining companies technical services consultancy over and above their financial services offerings.
Clay says providing multi- dimensional services for the mining industry is part of the reason why Deloitte, one of the country’s largest accounting firms, acquired technical mining services consultancy Venmyn in November last year. He says this approach saves clients money and time by ensuring that geological work is complete before mining operations start.
“The game changer is to make the geology talk before you drill holes. It’s much more efficient and it’s a quantitative way to assist clients in visualising what the mine will look like before it is developed,” he adds.
Not an Ageing Industry
McKenna says that, to get more South African students interested in geology, Venmyn Deloitte runs a yearly education programme, the Compliance and Reporting course, at the University of Pretoria. The programme is aimed at offering students insight into what is demanded of a geologist in the industry, particularly with respect to compliance reporting and mineral asset valuations. Venmyn Deloitte also participates in Deloitte social programmes focusing on Grade 11 and 12 learners.
With the recent decline in exploration projects and analytical services laboratories taking on fewer projects, McKenna assures Mining Weekly that there should be no concern over geology and analytical services becoming an ageing industry.
“This is not an ageing industry. It is, however, a cyclical industry – as is the minerals industry. I also believe that the environment will improve and that skills will continue to be required in the analytical services and geology fields. However, being multiskilled would provide a distinct advantage for graduates,” he adds.
Setting the Trend
Venmyn Deloitte foresees that more financial services providers working in the mining industry will follow its lead and will estab- lish partnerships and working relationships with other technical mining services providers.
Deloitte Africa mining advisory leader Abrie Olivier says that the establishment of Venmyn Deloitte has given Deloitte an edge over its peers on the continent and has set it on the path towards being a trendsetter in the mining industry.
“Traditionally, the big four accounting firms would outsource mining consultants when they required those types of capa- bilities. Our view is to insource that and have our own capa- bilities to be more seamless and more flexible,” says Olivier.
Established in 1988 by Clay and Willo Stear– who has since left the company – Venmyn provided technical services consultation for the mining and oil and gas industries. The acquisition by Deloitte enables the company to tap into the global market, which it had always hoped to do, says Clay.
Olivier says Deloitte has also benefited substantially from the acquisition and has registered growth in Deloitte’s Africa-based clientele. He says the African market is mostly attracted to Venmyn Deloitte’s ability to serve mining clients on the financial and technical fronts.