Independent mining and minerals management adviser Venmyn Deloitte says its project management service offering has been well accepted by the industry, despite the challenges of project management in an African context.
In February last year, the company welcomed the addition of exploration geologist Andrew de Klerk to its team, enabling it to offer the services required for a mineral project’s life cycle from start to finish.
The exploration project management offer- ing entails the selection of the appropriate exploration method for a project and the provision of services, such as target generation, database management, geological interpretation, resource estimations and reporting.
The company regularly assesses whether exploration work on a particular project has been carried out as recommended. It also determines whether Venmyn Deloitte Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC) procedures are being correctly implemented and adhered to throughout the exploration project.
De Klerk, who is involved in greenfield and brownfield exploration and in small-scale mining projects, assists companies with target generation. He also provides exploration programme QA/QC to ensure that exploration is carried out in a transparent and auditable manner, which will ‘ease in’ a project’s sale or further development.
“Anyone can dig a hole in the ground; however, if exploration is poorly executed, the project will be fraught with problems from the outset.
“The world’s easy-to-find mineral deposits have largely been discovered, so my main interest lies in exploring unique and challenging mineral deposits using a combination of traditional and modern techniques,” says De Klerk.
Venmyn Deloitte director Neil McKenna tells Mining Weekly that the added services are a result of the company identifying a need for an independent exploration project and feasibility study review.
“When a mining company goes to a financial institution for funding, the bank asks for due diligence to be carried out. Our approach is to engage with the client early in the feasibility study and independently verify the inputs into the study to produce a document which provides independent assurance on the inputs and results of the feasibility study,” he says.
McKenna adds that the exploration project management products and services have been well received, as people in the mining industry recognise the need for independent review and often require an independent company to assess and compile the inputs into international standards-compliant documents.
“We have completed several mine-related prefeasibility and feasibility studies thus far, focusing increasingly on preliminary economic assessments, which allow for early stage projects to be assessed for economic viability and for fatal flaws to be identified,” he states.
He notes that the projects have been successfully implemented across many commodities and minerals, including platinum, gold, cement, fluorspar and rare-earth elements.
Venmyn Deloitte executive lead Fiona Harper tells Mining Weekly that exploration project management in Africa does have its challenges.
“One such challenge is that feasibility studies are often motivated by shareholder expectations. This is further complicated by company managers not always having technical training in the field, which results in unrealistic expectations of what the output of the study is likely to be.
“They might also have unrealistic expectations of the timeframe needed to complete the various sections required for a feasibility study, underestimating the study to possibly take two years to complete,” she says.
To face these challenges and improve exploration and feasibility project management as a whole in Africa, McKenna says there has to be a shift towards independence in exploration project management.
“There is a general shortage of project managers and specialist consultants for several work streams in Africa, which needs to be tackled.
“Technically and financially competent independent firms thus play an important role in the management of exploration programmes, and feasibility and prefeasibility studies,” he concludes.