Celebrating 15 years in business this year, Kai Batla, a minerals consultancy established during the 2008 financial crisis, is making a strong push into the digital space with the support of its parent company; the engineering consultancy DMT Group.
Now operating under the name DMTKai Batla, the consultancy, based in Randburg, is focused on expanding and enhancing its offerings through the delivery of technical digital studies, consulting services, direct management, and other solutions.
“Launching in the middle of such a difficult time wasn’t planned, but we do believe that if we can survive the 2008 financial crisis, we can survive anything – especially in South Africa, which has a well-established mining sector,” says director Sodhie Naicker.
In conversation with Mining Weekly, he explains how, over the years, the company has “remained committed to providing high-quality consulting services to the mining and associated sectors” and that its efforts have not gone unnoticed.
In 2014, the acquisition by Germany-based DMT Group, which employs over 1 100 people across 30 international offices, led to the creation of DMTKai Batla, and “completely transformed our service offering and gravitas in the industry”.
Naicker explains that through becoming a part of the DMT Group, the consultancy was able to tap into DMT’s extensive knowledge and resources, giving it the ability to offer an even broader range of services to clients.
“Our consultants can draw on the global expertise of DMT to provide innovative solutions that meet the unique needs of each client. We have also been able to expand our reach and offer our services to a broader range of clients and geographies. Projects take our consultants across the globe – with an obvious focus on Africa for DMTKai Batla,” Naicker adds.
He highlights, however, that DMT focuses on research and development (R&D) and, through partnerships, can develop technologies, such as Core Scanner 3, which digitises the core logging process and thereby creating a digital library of core.
“DMT has upgraded this model, calling it Ancorelog. In essence, this version will do the basic Core scan, plus mineralogical and chemical analysis, and more.”
Naicker notes that a prototype is available and DMTKai Batla will have the Ancorelog in Johannesburg, South Africa, in the next three months.
The consultancy also promotes its one-of-a-kind Slim Bore Hole Scanner in South Africa, which can be used to map roof bolt drillholes in underground mines, helping to prevent potential health and safety risks and concerns.
Other products include the consultancy’s Gyromet, and Shaft Scanner
“You can prevent rock falls, for example, or predict when it will happen,” Naicker says, adding that the consultancy has, through its commitment to providing exceptional service and its ability to adapt to changing market conditions, “been able to build a reputation for excellence”.
Looking to the future, Naicker recognises that the mining industry is going through significant changes, driven by both regulatory changes and market needs for optimization.
In addition to digitalisation and environmental, social and governance (ESG), Naicker notes that two other significant trends are emerging, namely the importance of critical raw materials and the energy transition.
“As the world transitions to a low-carbon economy, the demand for critical raw materials, such as lithium, cobalt and nickel, is expected to skyrocket. However, these raw materials are often found in challenging locations, such as remote and environmentally sensitive areas.”
This, Naicker comments, “presents new challenges for mining companies”, which must navigate complex regulatory requirements while also addressing ESG concerns.
At DMT Kai Batla, “we are committed to helping our clients navigate these challenges and identify sustainable and responsible ways to meet the growing demand for critical raw materials”.
DMT Kai Batla is a partner of the AfricaMaVal consortium, a European Union- (EU-) funded project that is identifying critical raw material projects, inclusive of infrastructure and green energy projects in Africa, with the objective of ensuring a secure supply of these materials to the EU.
According to Naicker, the projects goal is not only to gain access to the minerals but also to support Africa's development through beneficiation and unlocking other bottlenecks, which is a priority for the continent. This represents a new approach, as the EU seeks to use its access to minerals to aid in Africa's advancement.
In addition, the energy transition is driving changes in the mining industry as companies seek to reduce their carbon footprint and transition to renewable energy sources.
This presents new opportunities for mining companies to explore innovative solutions, such as the use of renewable energy in mining operations and the development of sustainable mining practices.
“Our team at DMTKai Batla is dedicated to helping our clients stay ahead of the curve in the rapidly evolving mining industry, so they can seize new opportunities for growth and success,” Naicker states.
Despite ongoing changes in the mining industry driven by digitalisation, ESG, critical raw materials, and the energy transition, DMTKai Batla is dedicated to offering its top-of-the-range consulting services to aid clients in adapting to these changes and discovering new growth and success opportunities.