Professional services firm WSP in Africa provides mining houses across the continent with access to a full spectrum of “world-class” engineering, environmental sustainability advisory and implementation services.
The firm states that it has the experience and breadth of offering in place to assess, strategise, and provide programmes of work for mining houses when it comes to all their built and environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) requirements.
In independent research advisory Verdantix’s newly launched ‘Green Quadrant: ESG & Sustainability Report 2022’, WSP has been recognised as one of the top four market-leading providers of ESG and sustainability consulting services globally.
The Green Quadrant report states that, “WSP has used strong in-house expertise and digital tools to establish competitive offerings in operational resource transformation and environmental and resource management services for clients”.
“The report reflects our commitment to be a more inclusive organisation to deliver beyond the traditional advisory role. As such, it reinforces our ability to provide not only planning and engineering design services, but also support our clients from strategic advisory services through to implementation of design solutions. This is indicative of how the WSP value proposition has strengthened following our acquisition last year of earth and environmental consulting firm Golder,” says WSP in Africa environment MD Sean Doel.
Adding to the dynamic nature of the mining sector in Africa are important considerations around climate change and the role it plays within the ESG space.
The understanding of climate change risks and opportunities, and the disclosure of climate change-related risks in particular, is increasingly becoming a requirement by regulators. In parallel, there is a growing expectation from investors, lenders, insurers and communities of interest that companies demonstrate how climate change-related risks are being managed.
“The direct impact of climate change in mining cannot be ignored. For instance, extreme precipitation resulting in flood damage to infrastructure – including mine waste residues – can have significant consequences and must be accounted for in the mine planning and ongoing operations. But more than that, indirect impacts such as the health and safety of personnel on site or in surrounding communities, legal liability, and reputational consequences, also contribute to the pressurised environment in which mining houses find themselves,” says WSP in Africa earth and environment MD Ralph Heath.
To this end, WSP in Africa is focusing on several strategic areas for its mining clients. These include water, waste, and energy efficiency and security, coupled with care for human resources and communities, and of course longer-term rehabilitation of the environment though customised mine closure strategies.
“Our ability to not only do the strategic thinking and planning around climate resilience and ESG, but also design and implement real world solutions for our clients fundamentally differentiates us from our competitors,” says Doel.
Heath agrees that the company is focused on complete services to its mining projects from inception through to closure. “The mining sector is unique in its requirements but taking environmental and social impacts into consideration is vital if success is to be achieved.
“For example, with our assistance, one of our multinational mining clients has taken a unique water steward and resilience approach. They have created opportunities and technology in water savings because they looked at the challenge holistically and then applied it locally. This is what true sustainability thinking is all about.”
He believes that WSP’s approach of having a strong mining client programme is also paying dividends.
“We take on new projects based on a clear understanding of both the health and safety, and compliance and ethics issues associated with the project as well as demonstrable client commitment to driving the ESG agenda.
For us, it is important to have a relationship with our clients and extend that to their global head offices to ensure the correct alignment on ESG across their operational footprint can be done,” adds Heath.
Mining operations have established, multidisciplinary processes in place to identify, assess, and manage risks through risk management frameworks. According to Doel, physical and transitional risks associated with climate change have become an important addition to the risk management process – both at corporate and operational levels.
“Assessing climate change risks necessarily involves a multidisciplinary set of skills and a team that can integrate scientific understanding, such as interpretation of down-scaled global circulation model data and greenhouse-gas emissions, with engineering knowledge of mine design and operations.
“With our range of specialists, we are able to quantify climate risks and opportunities for our clients, and then work with them to establish the optimum roadmap and implementation plan to achieve their sustainability and ESG objectives. It is an exciting and challenging space to be working in and we are proud of the contribution we can make in supporting the green transition of the sector,” concludes Doel.