Mining consultancy opens Namibian office, a first outside South Africa

17th May 2013 By: Gia Costella

Mining consultancy firm VBKom Consulting Engineers (VBKom) will open its first office outside South Africa, in Windhoek, Namibia, this month, after operating in Namibia as a registered company for two years.

“We have been promising this office to the market for two years and the time has finally come. We saw a competitive advantage, as many of the consulting firms carrying out work in the country are foreign, hailing from South Africa, Australia and the UK, and government is moving towards supporting local companies.

“Additionally, VBKom has always focused on the surface mining niche market, with 90% of currently operating and potential mining projects in the country falling under this category. “Local mining consulting firms are rare, so we feel we can offer our future clients a better service and our existing clients an efficient turnaround time, being situated in the country,” says VBKom director and senior mining engineer Werner Moeller.

He adds that the new offices will enable the company to diversify its market, as it has, in the past, focused mainly on other countries in the South African Development Community (SADC) region.

“We have established a healthy client base in the country over the past two years, which we will continue to service. As time allows and as our team grows, we will take on new projects and clients while developing the company,” he says.

The company will employ local mining engineers, the first of which is Bertha Iitana.

She tells Mining Weekly that being employed by VBKom is a huge opportunity for her and that the company’s presence will aid in the growth and development of the Namibian mining industry.

“The projects we are working on are some of the most promising projects in Namibia,” she states.

Currently, the company is involved in uranium mining company Swakop Uranium’s Husab project, 55 km east of Swakopmund, improving Swakop Uranium’s mining plans and updating its life-of-mine plans for 2013.

“The company plans to start mining next year and VBKom will assist it with operational support. “We began working with them 18 months ago and have a long-term partnership with them going forward,” says Moeller.

Iitana adds that VBKom is also doing work for gold mining company B2Gold Namibia at its Otjikoto gold mine, 300 km north of Windhoek.

“We successfully completed a bankable feasibility study (BFS) for the company in December, which was well received by the board. “Currently, we offer technical support and have been awarded a contract for operational support during the implementation phase.

“We began working at the beginning of April and the contract is renewable yearly,” she says.

Further, the consultancy is contracted to carry out a BFS in June for mining company Lodestone, at its magnetite project, in Dorabis, about 80 km south-east of Windhoek.

“VBKom Namibia also assists uranium miner Rössing Uranium on a continuous basis on their strategic mine planning projects,” notes Moeller.

Not-So-Challenging Namibia

Moeller says the process of opening the Windhoek office did not pose any challenges for the company.

“Being a Namibian citizen, there were no legal challenges. Logistically, there are daily flights between Johannesburg and Windhoek or Walvis Bay, making it easy to travel between the cities,” he says.

Iitana says Namibia poses more opportunities than challenges for the company, such as expanding the company’s client base.

“More companies are exploring in Namibia all the time, which presents further opportunities for VBKom,” she states.

Going forward, Moeller says the company plans to open more offices outside South Africa in countries like Ghana and Tanzania.

“We do plan, however, to keep our focus on the SADC region and our core business, as well as to develop and fully establish this new office in Windhoek,” he concludes.