Despite Covid-19 presenting several challenges, mining advisory company Ukwazi has provided services for various mining projects over the past year.
“We have completed projects at coal, platinum group metals and chrome mines, as well as projects for manganese and iron-ore operations in the Northern Cape and the North West respectively,” says Ukwazi mining and business development manager Spencer Eckstein.
Ukwazi Northern Cape mining head Jaco Mans adds that, owing to the hard lockdown, managers on site did not have their usual production commitments and pressures. Consequently, managers could revisit projects, that had not been possible during normal periods of production.
This led to Ukwazi’s conducting technical studies on various iron-ore and manganese projects as metal prices increased.
“There is a lot of movement happening in that sector, as bigger companies and junior miners with reserves – previously considered uneconomical – can now exploit and use them to expand,” says Mans.
He adds that “several junior miners are coming into the commodities sector with comparatively little capital, but if these commodities have good prices, they are a fairly safe investment on a small scale”.
Owing to commodity price trends, many new mining projects would have been brought into development, at a more gradual pace, and over a longer time; however, it has happened at a rapid pace because of the pandemic.
Further, the high iron-ore prices and those of other commodities, during the pandemic, has led to individuals starting mining consultancies, which has led to increased competition in the consulting space.
There is also a trend towards consultancies providing a more holistic solution, encompassing energy, security and other aspects associated with mining and contracting.
Foreign mining companies want the “total package solution – from operations and technical services to assisting with legal appointments and regulatory and governing-related issues. Anything that may be required at a fully functional mine”. says Ukwazi mining head Pierre Mans.
“Our company comprises five divisions – mining studies, sustainable mining, project development and delivery, operations and site services. Site services include insourcing where we place engineers on site and co-locate them with the client to support them from within,” Eckstein explains.
Pierre Mans adds that Ukwazi also follows a traditional model of providing technical services, as well as short-, medium- and long-term mine planning services for the industry.
“Mining companies see the benefits of using consultants, and in our experience clients are a lot more demanding and expect more value for money,” Eckstein concludes.