Integrated infrastructure delivery company Aecom is well poised to make inroads into the mining industry, says Aecom Africa strategy and growth director Fadzai Nyamasve.
She tells Mining Weekly that, although there is still uncertainty in the market regarding the Mining Charter, Aecom expects the finalisation of the charter to improve funding and investment appetite, as investors always need market certainty to enable them to measure their short- to long-term strategies and risks more accurately.
Nyamasve notes that, as matters pertaining to regulatory uncertainty are being addressed through the right legislative channels and as government has instituted a deliberate campaign to attract investors, the pressing challenge is accelerating processes to ensure the industry recovers in a timeous manner.
She explains that Aecom specialises in comprehensive engineering solutions for pit-to-port mining projects, enabling clients to focus on their core mining activities. As a “global leader” in major infrastructure development, Aecom is able cater for every aspect of mining, apart from the actual mine development and resource verifications, for which they partner with long-standing global partners.
“Depending on the scope of the project in hand, we can align with our partners in the form of a consortia association, either as a subcontractor or as a joint venture partner in order to provide a seamless total mining solution,” Nyamasve explains.
“Consultants such as ourselves play a big role during the initial phases up to commencement of operations, owing to our expertise in social and environmental permitting through to project feasibility studies, implementation and management,” she says.
Further, she notes that, as mining companies have had to respond to the downturn in commodity prices, many have had to cut costs and have in most cases reduced their in-house engineering capabilities, which has resulted in the external engineering consulting model being the most appropriate model for ramping up mine plans.
This presents strategic opportunities for companies like Aecom to partner with mine owners and investors in the entire project development and ramp-up planning process, from project initiation to detailed design and construction, which includes managing contractors and subcontractors.
Nyamasve says that, given the general uncertainty surrounding the South African mining industry and declining commodity prices in the recent past, Aecom looked to the rest of the African continent to sustain its growth in, and involvement with, the mining industry. She adds that, despite seeming improvements in South Africa and the commodities markets, maintaining its presence on the rest of the continent and using its strong South African skill set are strategic imperatives, as there are many mining growth opportunities outside of the country’s borders.
“There are greenfield mining projects in the rest of Africa, and, hence, most local South African companies are vying for opportunities elsewhere on the continent. In particular, there is great demand in Africa for project and cost management and engineering capabilities, which an integrated infrastructure delivery company like Aecom is able to leverage to great effect.”
She says that, as a result of South Africa’s long history and strong skill set in diamond mining and expansion projects, Botswana-based Debswana’s Jwaneng Mine Cut 9 and Orapa Mine Cut 3 feasibility studies have been executed in part by South African professionals.