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Indaba allows stakeholders to nail colours to the mast

22nd April 2022

By: Nadine James

Features Deputy Editor


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The Investing in African Mining Indaba – hosted at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from May 9 to 12 – allows companies and regulators to publicly state intentions, and drive stakeholders to action, says engineering solutions provider Zutari client director Dr Eduard Vorster.

“In our experience, once it gets to Mining Indaba it becomes the truth.”

He says that mining stakeholders, having planned, investigated and strategised ahead of the event, use the platform to commit to action.

“There aren’t really ‘debates’ at Indaba. The event lets stakeholders put a marker on the ground by providing insight on what countries, from a policy and regulatory perspective, and companies, have done over the last five years and what they plan to do over the next five.

“Mining Indaba tends to put everybody on the same page again. It allows industry to refocus and act on the existing challenges and opportunities.”

Vorster adds that, with the world having overcome the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, an emerging and intensified focus is to improve efficiencies and performance while adding resilience.

He notes that this emphasis on resilience is key. “Predicting the future is difficult; it has always been difficult. The pandemic and its consequences and now the situation unfolding in Ukraine have demonstrated that adverse events can occur at any time, with little warning. Finding solutions faster is important to businesses’ continued success.”

Vorster comments that, from a project management perspective, long-lead times have always been a problem. Delays in the global supply chain have only exacerbated this problem.

“There will likely be increased investment in artificial intelligence and other digitally transformative tools to improve the collection, prediction, analysis and use of asset-specific data.”

Another key trend that Vorster highlights is higher expectations from stakeholders regarding the evolving environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) standards and priorities.

He notes that investors have begun placing significantly more emphasis on ensuring that their capital is used by “responsible” actors, rather than concentrating explicitly on the numbers.

“In South Africa, and also in the rest of Africa, we have the context of energy security being offset against sustainability and decarbonisation targets. That will have many implications for companies looking to secure funding as well as for the type of assets that are likely to attract investment.”

Zutari and the Energy Transition

Vorster says that Zutari is “generally known as an infrastructure provider”. It has 11 offices in Africa, in addition to nine South Africa-based offices and a Middle East office.

“In terms of the mining industry, very broadly, Zutari’s impact can be described as starting from the point at which ore drops onto any kind of conveyance system, into the process plant, inclusive of all engineering and planning services, through to road, rail and/or port logistics; that is all Zutari. Closer to the mine itself, Zutari has an expert team of contract managers and quantity surveyors, specialising in mining contracts.”

He explains that Zutari differentiates from its peers by ensuring that mining companies can meet ESG targets and regulatory compliance; whether it is looking at the sticking points around the Carbon Tax and credits, strategising on decarbonisation and environmental compliance, or engaging with communities to ensure miners pursue and commit to the ‘right’ social and community development projects.

Given the decarbonisation trend, the starting point for Zutari’s decarbonisation solutions is tax compliance and how that can be offset. “We can help our clients implement more pointed decarbonisation tactics such as energy and efficiency, self-generation and other related issues. Over the last few years, we’ve probably had the strongest track record in renewable energy in South Africa, having participated in 70% of the projects in the previous Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme bid windows.”

Further, Vorster notes that, when a mine reaches the end of its life, Zutari not only ensures “proper” closure, it seeks to transform the mine into a new business. “We have a business unit within our mining segment that looks exclusively at those kinds of opportunities, which we refer to as Asset Transformation. That has been a big part of our business over the last two to three years especially when the global economy has been through some dire straits.”

He notes that regional Asset Transformation projects are a major trend. “For example, I have been on the board of the private–public initiative to drive socioeconomic development Impact Catalyst. I think that is one of the best examples of what can be done when the public and private sectors work together. Our mantra is ‘impact’, and we’ve even organised our company philosophy around six impactful themes to which every project should align.”

Vorster says that, as the company exists in an African and Middle East context, Zutari’s view is that it wants to commit to the energy transition responsibly. “One of our clients is one of the biggest coal miners in South Africa, and it is feeling the headwinds at the moment, in terms of staying relevant.”

He concludes that it is not a question of remaining with fossil fuels; it is a question of transitioning from them responsibly while supporting economic growth.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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