Murray & Roberts continues raise boring activities in Africa

12th May 2022 By: Simone Liedtke - Writer

Murray & Roberts continues raise boring activities in Africa

Murray & Roberts’ Mining Platform, one of the world’s leading mining contracting businesses, is fast putting the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic behind it, with its order book has now recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

“Our order book was eroded in the immediate aftermath of the global economic shutdown caused by the pandemic but has now recovered nicely,” says Mining Platform CEO Mike da Costa.

The company’s order book now totals R22.2-billion, which Da Costa says “is sharply up on the R17.9-billion of a year ago”.

He adds that a future prospects “also look good” as there is a significant pipeline of new projects that the company is bidding on.

The Murray & Roberts Mining Platform consists of three regional businesses, namely Murray & Roberts Cementation, headquartered in Johannesburg but with branches in Kitwe in Zambia, and Accra in Ghana; Cementation Americas (which incorporates Cementation USA), based in Salt Lake City, which handles the Americas; and RUC Cementation, which operates out of Perth in Australia and works throughout Australasia and south-east Asia.

“We’re active in virtually every major mining jurisdiction,” says da Costa.

Notable mines and projects where the company is currently working includes the Venetia Underground Project, in South Africa, the Jansen potash project, in Canada, the Kennecott Utah Copper Keystone project, in the US, the Oyu Tolgoi copper/gold mine in Mongolia, the Grasberg copper/gold mine, in Indonesia, and the Tanami gold mine, in Australia.

Further, commenting on the current performance of Murray & Roberts Cementation MD Mike Wells says the bulk of its work is in South Africa.

“Historically, we’ve worked all over Africa but at the moment our African presence – outside of South Africa – is largely confined to some raise boring contracts we have in Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso and Tanzania, as well as a contract at the Navachab gold mine, in Namibia. In South Africa, however, we are extremely busy, with the coal sector in particular proving to be a growth area,” Wells says.

He adds that Murray & Roberts Cementation’s flagship contract is the Venetia underground project, where the company’s work on the sinking and equipping of the two vertical shafts the project requires is now well advanced, with the shaft-sinking phase approaching completion.

He also notes that the company, which has been involved for several years with aspects of the giant Platreef platinum-group metals (PGM) project near Mokopane, is starting a major new contract at the mine, which will see it carrying out development for the initial Phase 1 mine.

The task of bringing new business into Murray & Roberts Cementation is the responsibility of the company’s new business director, Allan Widlake, who says there is plenty of scope for the company to grow both in South Africa and the rest of Africa.

“Clients across the board are starting to put out new tenders and projects that were previously on hold are now coming to the market,” he states.

“This is particularly the case in South Africa, but we’re encouraged by developments in other parts of Africa. In Zambia, for example, there are some opportunities emerging on the Copperbelt.”

Widlake says Murray & Roberts Cementation is differentiated from most other players in the market by the breadth of its offering, its procurement ability, its balance sheet, its human resources skills, its safety record, and the training facilities at Bentley Park.

“Our Training Academy is a huge asset and is particularly important now that localisation of employment opportunities is a requirement on virtually all contracts. We can take people with no mining experience and bring them up to an impressive level of competence very quickly by putting them through Bentley Park,” he concludes.