Independent consulting firm of engineers and scientists SRK Consulting’s operational base in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has increased the levels of its local employee ownership significantly.
SRK South Africa established a permanent office in Lubumbashi, in the DRC, ten years ago, after many years of consulting in the region.
While the DRC office has been locally managed and staffed, it increased its local ownership from 11% to 51% last year as it accelerated its alignment with the country’s localisation policies that govern service providers to the mining industry.
The change of ownership moved the largely South Africa-owned practice to a majority-owned Congolese practice, with employees able to buy shares in the company.
SRK Consulting South Africa MD Vis Reddy tells Engineering News & Mining Weekly that, after bringing the DRC unit through a challenging period from 2014 to 2018, the practice is now an attractive opportunity for employee investment.
SRK South Africa’s standard approach is to invest in establishing a local operation and then sell down shares in the company to local employees.
“Ultimately, that shareholding can go up to 70% ownership, with the other 30% held by the SRK holding company,” he adds.
“Being run by local professionals is part of SRK’s global ethos for all its offices, and the evolution of the business to become majority-owned by DRC citizens has been the next exciting step in this journey,” adds SRK Consulting DRC country manager Susa Maleba.
The DRC has been promoting local ownership in mining to improve financial benefits and local skills, as well as ensure enhanced sustainability within the country’s business sector.
“Most of SRK’s clients in the DRC are mining companies, and we are complying with this regulation to keep doing business, while assisting our clients to remain compliant.”
Since its establishment, the DRC office initially focused on work related to environmental and social-impact assessments, steadily expanding its technical consulting service offerings into feasibility studies, exploration, geotechnical, hydrogeology, geological and, more recently, tailings work.
While many opportunities are available for SRK in the short term, including due diligence activity and sustainability, tailings management has emerged as a significant, attractive, long-term opportunity for SRK in the region.
In the medium term, the group is developing expertise and building local capacity to take the growing DRC mining sector to another level and enable an independent, self-sustaining operation that plays a role in the development of DRC mining, environmental social and governance criteria in a sustainable manner.