Multinational engineering company FLSmidth continues to drive efficiency across the West African mining sector through the value-engineering approach of its Ghana-based subsidiary, with the company in close proximity to customers.
The West Africa region is one of the biggest contributors to global gold production, and the region’s contribution to the supply of other minerals means it “plays a key role in global mineral production”, says FLSmidth Ghana GM Joseph Appiah-Kubi.
The Ghana office partners with its customers to drive success and enhance the company’s sustainability agenda, which is FLSmidth’s “hallmark and fundamental way of working”, he adds, noting that this includes the subsidiary helping its customers across the region through productivity enhancement.
FLSmidth’s Ghanaian subsidiary has, since its establishment in 2017, grown to employ 15 people who can provide services across various mining disciplines.
He enthuses about Ghana’s position as one of the Top 10 gold producers in the world.
The office has also seen an increased interest from the cement market, which Appiah-Kubi notes has encouraged the subsidiary to further consider the potential that this segment could offer to the West Africa region.
Further, engineers who work from the Ghanaian office are trained to the highest level to provide “world class” customer management.
“Our engineers are skilled in the trade, and we leverage FLSmidth’s global competencies to bring about the efficiencies that the miners in the region need,” he adds.
This is often accomplished at operations by implementing automation and digitalisation solutions, besides others, through being responsive to a customer’s problems and implementing FLSmidth’s technical knowledge on how to resolve issues.
The Ghanaian subsidiary also has the added benefit of availing companies with spare parts for machinery, when it is able to do so.
FLSmidth also invested in a warehouse in Ghana, which is in addition to its on-site consignment stock at customer operations. The warehouse will be used as a central point for distribution of parts and products for partners in the region to receive customer service, technical knowledge and spare parts.
Through this warehouse and Ghana office, miners in the West Africa region will also be able to attain installation supervisory services when executing projects.
“The Covid-19 pandemic taught us that we need to be more self-reliant in the region, to provide the support our customers require,” Appiah-Kubi says.
“We are very proud that, in-country and in-house, we have been able to execute projects that ordinarily would have been moved to different countries. Our focus on local competence helped us in supporting our customers during the pandemic; specifically, we were able to assist with the execution of big projects and commission in-country,” Appiah-Kubi enthuses.
Apart from its commitment to sustaining mining operations through “world-class work and high-class engineers”, Appiah-Kubi highlights FLSmidth’s graduate trainee programme, which he says continues to “build the pipeline” to ensure a strong base for the company and its customers.
“Trainees will complete one year of compulsory training with us, followed by another voluntary year of training, if they so wish.
“We train these young engineers in various disciplines within our organisation. We also employ them, if we have the opportunity to do so, or we assist them as much as we can to continue contributing to the industry.”
The graduate development programme started only last year and, as such, the first cohort of trainees are refining their skills.
Trainees are introduced to the global standard of customer services and engineering training. FLSmidth is planning to increase the scope of the programme so that apprentices can also participate, says Appiah-Kubi.
The apprenticeship programme, another part of the graduate development programme, in particular, will focus on “blue-collar roles”, for example welders and electricians, within the artisanal space.
“We will also help them to locate good engineering service organisations or training institutions, to have hands-on experience, meeting the requirements that FLSmidth customers present,” Appiah-Kubi explains, noting that, after completing their training, these apprentices can be employed if FLSmidth can offer them a position.
While these programmes are essential, he also stresses the importance of government’s and industry players’ involvement in championing the development of the next generation of miners who will need to ensure the industry’s continued sustainability.
“We’ll get to a point where we will have the technology, but we may not necessarily have people who are able to work in the industry. Therefore, FLSmidth’s graduate programme is critical, as it can engender a love for the mining industry in young people,” he concludes.