Africa|Consulting|Consulting Engineers|Engineering|Mining|PROJECT|Projects|Service|Services|Environmental
Africa|Consulting|Consulting Engineers|Engineering|Mining|PROJECT|Projects|Service|Services|Environmental

Clients’ lack of technical knowledge hampering consulting engineers

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MINING INDUSTRY CHALLENGES Campbell attributes challenges experienced by consulting engineers in mining to a lack of technical knowledge among mining clients with regard to providing such consulting engineering services

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27th May 2022

By: Sabrina Jardim

Creamer Media Writer


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While the relationship between the consulting engineering industry and the South African mining industry is growing in a general sense, consulting engineers, nevertheless, face challenges in providing professional services to the mining industry, many not unlike those experienced when dealing with public sector clients, says industry body Consulting Engineering South Africa (Cesa) CEO Chris Campbell.

He attributes these challenges to a lack of technical knowledge among mining clients with regard to providing such consulting engineering services.

While there has been a proliferation of project managers driving these projects at a client level in the mining industry, Campbell says they often do not adequately articulate their expectations for specialised mining projects.

Further, challenges arise pertaining to the procurement of work on mining projects where, although mining clients often have service level agreements with consultants, Campbell says many clients still pursue an open-tender process.

This is problematic because clients are not always well informed of what is required for a successful mining project, often resulting in poor scope definition, making it difficult for consulting engineers to implement competitive pricing on a tender basis, he elaborates.

Additionally, mining clients often create their own conditions of contract, which can cause contracts to be imbalanced.

Hence, Campbell advocates for the adoption of a globally accepted best practice through the utilisation of bespoke contract documentation standards as a means of addressing such contractual imbalances.

He acknowledges that mining-specific regulatory challenges also occur, owing to the onerous processes associated with, for example, the environmental authorisation of projects, a challenge which Campbell believes is, unfortunately, not likely to change anytime soon.

He suggests that relevant government departments, responsible for reviewing such applications from mining companies, strongly consider undergoing upskilling processes to allow for greater capacity when reviewing applications and designs pertaining to environmental authorisations, among other regulatory compliance requirements. 

Despite challenges faced by consulting engineers in the mining industry, Campbell describes general collaboration between member companies in the consulting engineering industry, who need to collaborate on projects, as being “very good and very professional”.

“Projects often require large teams, and there's generally a good spirit among them. Most consulting engineering companies, if not all, are mature enough to accept having to peer review each other's work, a process that can run smoothly if the scope and intentions are well understood and agreed to from the start,” Campbell concludes.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor




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