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MetC Engineering: Filling an engineering gap for juniors

MetC Engineering is looking to fill a gap in the mining sector whose junior and mid-sized mining companies are calling for rapid delivery of cost competitive plants, MD NICK TATALIAS tells LAURA CORNISH.

New service providers in the mining industry typically travel a long road to find success in a market which favours proven track records and well-known reputations. This however has not hampered MetC Engineering’s entrance into the industry.

This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 5, 2019
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Having already secured two ‘high profile’ projects, Tatalias believes this is the result of the MetC team, many of whom have extensive experience in the industry having worked on the executive team for the once well-recognised MDM Engineering.

“Our team members have designed, built and operated more than 75 metallurgical plants across the African continent and the junior and mid-tier market can subsequently rest assured that MetC Engineering can deliver on their process needs quickly and cost effectively,” says Tatalias.

He continues: “The combination of engineering efficiency, extensive project design experience driven by entrepreneurial passion makes MetC a premier engineering design company.

“We are responsive, fast moving, flexible and skilled in completing studies and detailed design for metallurgical plants, for both Brownfield and Greenfield projects; as well as detailed engineering for plant sections and process islands.

‘This dedicated team brings high level engineering and management experience in day-to-day project issues without impacting on cost.”

With a team of 50 in-house employees, Tatalias is looking to grow the company into a medium-sized engineering firm, with a full-time head count of about 150 personnel executing between two and three projects and five or six studies simultaneously.

The company has also strategically identified key focus areas which represent greater opportunity for work and a quicker growth potential – including central Africa (primarily copper/cobalt projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)) and West Africa (primarily gold projects) – although it is open to any region which showcases exciting prospects.

Cementing its expertise in the DRC

Through a partnership with process technologies specialist Outotec, MetC Engineering is in the process of delivering a new process plant for DRC-based private firm Chemaf’s already-operational Mutoshi mine, situated on the outskirts of Kolwezi.

“Our scope includes engineering, procurement and logistics for a 48 000 tpa copper metal and 16 000 tpa cobalt hydroxide process plant,” Tatalias describes.

Having overseen the development of Metorex’s Ruashi project and working with ENRC (now ERG Africa) for four years, the MD has long-standing experience in the DRC.

Project execution commenced in February 2018 and to date is 30% complete. There have been some delays and the need to restructure project financing.

“Closure on this is imminent and we are expecting to resume work shortly and complete the project with first metal forecast for Q3, 2020,” Tatalias outlines.

Construction at Mutoshi is being completed by the Chemaf construction team. Tanks and thickeners are being supplied by Outec with detailed engineering civil and structural steel done by METC Engineering.

More recently, MetC Engineering was appointed to complete the detailed engineering and procurement for Ivanhoe Mines’ Kipushi zinc-copper mine in the Katanga province of the DRC.

The Kipushi mine has been in care and maintenance for a number of years and this project will restart this historic mine and reinvigorate the town of Kipushi. The design entails the delivery an 800 000 tpa high grade zinc concentrate process plant.

Still in the DRC, the company has completed a debottlenecking study of milling operations at Banro’s Twangiza gold mine in North Kivu Province and identified the need to upgrade the milling section. Together with FLSmidth, MetC Engineering is currently executing a circuit upgrade with the addition of a new milling unit to the plant.