Mining and minerals advisory company Fraser McGill will, for the first time, sponsor the Junior Indaba this year, which will be held at the Country Club Johannesburg, in Auckland Park, from June 4 to 5.
“As our business is specifically geared towards juniors, the demand and acceptance from them has been fantastic,” says Fraser McGill strategy and growth director Rob McGill, who tells Mining Weekly that he looks forward to engaging juniors in this “dynamic sector” regarding their product and service offerings.
“We have worked with several junior mining clients who love our tools and products, and have relied on our advice to drive their projects knowing that it is discreet and tailor-made for their needs,” he adds.
Fraser McGill’s services include investment and portfolio optimisation; early-phase project studies; technical and business-case project advisory; and corporate and operational strategy.
The company provides decision-making tools to quickly assess options and ideas quantitatively to ensure the agility needed to navigate the landscape without jettisoning sound governance. In addition, the company – which officially started operating in September 2016 – provides technical and project services support to supplement small and lean owner teams. This is to ensure that “all the right boxes are ticked” in terms of service delivery and that the benefit of countless local operations and projects that Fraser McGill has been exposed to, is built into designs, and practised on execution and operations, McGill explains.
“We understand the needs and challenges of juniors. They do not need large owner’s teams or large service providers to move their projects and businesses forward, particularly considering the cost and complexity that this brings. We are hands-on and dedicated to providing big-project experience and advice with a small, flexible and client-centric team.”
Consequently, Fraser McGill looks forward to upsizing its team by adding technical, financial and project services professionals, as well as developing project and portfolio assessment and evaluation tools for the remainder of the year. The company has also developed financial and nonfinancial reporting tools for juniors with multiple assets to ensure that they are equipped with real-time performance data and trends.
Fraser McGill is providing owner’s team assistance in various technical and nontechnical areas for minerals explorer Orion Minerals’ Prieska copper mine, in the Northern Cape, to help complete a bankable feasibility study (BFS) and prepare the project for execution. “This will be a new-era success story with strong local ownership and a vision for doing things differently. The project is currently in the BFS phase, with the execution planned for later this year,” McGill enthuses.
The company is also involved in a lithium-brine project, in Argentina, where it is providing project services and optimisation tools and products to a listed junior to help develop a lowest-cost quartile operation in this “new and exciting” industry.
The BFS phase for this project has been completed, while the value engineering is in progress, with execution planned for the second half of this year, says McGill.
Fraser McGill will further conduct design reviews on various aspects of vertical shafts for a UK fertiliser development company with a new potash mine in England.
The company will also develop, and is implementing, financial tools to assist coal mining company Burgh Group Holdings in managing its asset portfolio. McGill adds that these tools enable the group to assess current operations and future projects, ensuring that they are achieving maximum value from each of their assets. Burgh Group Holdings has multiple coal assets in the Mpumalanga province and supplies coal to both State-owned power utility Eskom and export markets.
McGill notes that political friction, power grid instability and policy uncertainty have caused the larger global mining companies to disinvest in the South African mining sector over the past decade.
The noncompetitive returns in many local sectors have caused investors to look to other geographies in Africa, South America, Asia and the Pacific.
“The traditional gold and platinum sectors have become old, unproductive and fraught with safety and labour challenges which has put off the large global companies,” says McGill.
The value chain that was traditionally attractive – with access to low cost power – from a beneficiation perspective has fallen away; therefore, alloy businesses are moving offshore, he concludes.