With miners looking to build businesses across Africa the next decade is ripe with opportunity to develop a thriving sector across the continent says AMC.
This success however will largely be driven by the industry’s ability to implement cost-effective and efficient mining and processing operations, says BLAKE SCHWEITZER, operations director for 10-year old contract mining and crushing company African Mining & Crushing (AMC).
“Key to effectively achieving this is partnering with highly skilled contractors who have the necessary tools to ensure financially profitable operations,” he tells LAURA CORNISH.
With a solid 10-year track record of delivering multiple crushing and screening plants for clients across the African continent, AMC has encountered many failed attempts, by others to execute projects successfully to fruition.
“Most junior mining houses are not equipped with the necessary internal skills and resources to move their projects through development and into operations.
"They should rely on experts in specific fields and through contractors, who are able to cover shortfalls and assist in making informed operating and processing decisions,” Schweitzer notes.
He states that a large percentage of AMC’s contract work to date has been the result of junior miners realising the need to work with contract experts to resolve initial process failures – which either require costly intervention to repair/upgrade or in some instances, the construction of an entirely new plant.
“This can also be the result of working with cheaper inexperienced plant designers or contractors who don’t have sufficient expertise.”
The reality and benefits of partnering with outsourced experts is significant and contrary to belief, is cost effective.
“As a reputable contractor, AMC can design and establish an entire mobile or semi-mobile crushing and screening plant at a fraction of the cost that a client could do if building it on their own.
"This is a massive cash saving for juniors who are not in a positive cash flow position while building their business,” Schweitzer highlights.
The company further guarantees that it can maintain a more cost-effective operation even after the operation’s financial status has moved comfortably into a profitable financial status.
AMC’s business model enables widespread efficiencies across the board – reduced overhead costs for its clients but even more importantly, greater equipment and plant uptime, the result of maintaining an extensive equipment fleet and subsequent spare parts inventory.
“Our drive is always to achieve maximum production output as cost efficiently as possible” Schweitzer highlights.
And while AMC is committed to delivering on its promises within the crushing and screening circuits of the plants it designs, builds and operates, a vital component in doing so successfully is understanding the downstream liberation and beneficiation requirements of an operation as well and considering those requirements for its own plant.
The company is also well qualified in integrating and balancing circuits within larger process plants so is a truly well-rounded expert in its field.
The proof is in the eaten pudding
AMC’s contractor model approach has been well adopted over the years by a number of mining companies including Tshipi é Ntle Manganese Mining, which operates the open cast Tshipi Borwa mine in the Kalahari Manganese Field, northwest of Kathu and south of Hotazel.
One of the mine’s largest shareholders, with a 49.9% stake, is ASX-listed Jupiter Mines which completed an initial public offering (IPO) of A$240 million in April 2018.
The IPO was significantly oversubscribed and was also one of the largest IPOs in the metals and mining industry over the last decade. “Likely the result of the superior performance and profitable mine model deployed, including for Tshipi,” Schweitzer notes.
AMC has been a long-standing partner to Tshipi – fulfilling the mandate from the mine’s shareholders to incorporate a contract model in order to reduce risk and optimise production.
Having begun on site in January 2014, AMC designed and built a new 1 200 tph crushing and screening plant in conjunction with the mine in 2017 and was awarded a three-year contract in 2018 to operate the plant as well.
“We are exceeding our operating parameters on the plant and continue to deliver a very successful operation,” Schweitzer shares.
Thanks to its contractor model, Tshipi’s risk in various areas is reduced. It employs far less personnel than a typical mine of its size would, while contractors account for approximately half of the total personnel count.
This mine is achieving excellent production rates and importantly, has the flexibility to adapt to market demands quickly and efficiently by down and upscaling production accordingly. This has undeniably resulted in a more cash positive operation over the longer term.
Pushing successful mines in Aussie-Africa vastly untapped
According to experts at the Africa Down Under conference in Perth, Australia in 2018, Australia will become the biggest international miner on the African continent and will double its investment to more than A$40 billion over the next decade.
With positive equity markets on the continent, there is an appetite for buying African assets and raising capital to develop them.
With a sound track record to support its promises and capabilities, and an extensive African footprint that stretches across most regions, AMC is well positioned to help the Australian market secure a viable and sustainable mining business, from north to south.
“Our strategy is to grow and we are comfortable to do work in any environment where our culture to keep our employees safe is echoed by our clients.
"We understand the nuances of developing plants for specific ore bodies and we also understand how to work within the legislative requirements that more and more African countries require.
"Africa has its own unique operating environment and no one is better qualified to assist international companies succeed than those that have a proven history that show it can be done,” Schweitzer concludes.