UMS Group

2020 Looks set to be United Mining Services Group’s (UMS Group’s) strongest year since its establishment in 2015. This is thanks to the tireless efforts of the company’s wholly owned businesses – Shaft Sinkers, METS Mining and METS Process.

The Group has secured base-load project work that will sustainably take it through the next two to three years, UMS Group CEO DIGBY GLOVER tells LAURA CORNISH.

This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 2, 2020

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Under the leadership and guidance of Glover, supported by UMS Group COO Murray Macnab, the company’s current work profile has grown considerably.

“2019 Was a tight year for the business but we will be rewarded in 2020 for the hard work and efforts we injected into the business over this time,” Glover starts.

The CEO joined UMS Group early in 2019 to implement and execute a strategy to consolidate the business and position it to grow on the back of significant expertise and experience which the Shaft Sinkers and METS companies have to offer.

Watch: UMS GROUP: On a solid footing with good growth prospects

“We have since then further supplemented the business with additional skills in shaft sinking, project management, risk management as well as multi-disciplinary design and engineering.

“We have also, through strengthening our internal systems, better positioned ourselves to focus on securing new work – which we’ve been particularly successful in achieving in the shaft sinking and refurbishment areas,” Glover notes.

“This however, is just the start of what is a multi-year strategy to see this business flourish. It is important that we continue to focus on the Groups’ key strengths, while exploring opportunities to grow our offerings in allied markets.

“We also still have some work to do to improve the company’s financial strength as well as to fully align with localisation requirements in the markets that we operate.” 

Read: UMS: “We are ready to grow”

This focus and approach as mentioned has already delivered success for the company and is indicative that the plans put in place are working.

“We have had strong support from our international shareholders over the past 12 months which is testimony to the optimism and confidence they have in seeing us prosper,” Glover states.

Positioned to deliver excellence across the value chain

The Group prides itself on its ingenuity in solving mining and mineral processing challenges.

Through the extensive skills sets and intellectual property housed within METS and Shaft Sinkers, the company offers an experienced, one-stop-shop of mining and minerals processing services firm that has the capabilities to build new mines and processing plants, from concept through to commissioning and operation, under one roof. 

Watch: Shaft audits and rehabilitation drive prosperity for underground mines

The companies’ full service offering includes:

  • Concept to feasibility studies (METS Mining and METS Process)
  • Engineering and engineering management (METS Mining and METS Process)
  • Capital infrastructure projects for new and existing mine projects (Shaft Sinkers)
  • Inspections, including shaft auditing, optimisation studies, refurbishment and rehabilitation, optimisation design and execution (METS Mining and Shaft Sinkers)
  • Contract mining (Shaft Sinkers)
  • New mine designs and developments, including shaft sinking systems, material handling and hoisting systems, structural and civil engineering (METS Mining)
  • Minerals processing and infrastructure design and execution packages (METS Process)
  • Consulting services, including third party reviews and owner engineering team assistance (METS Mining)

2020 a year of execution

Both Shaft Sinkers and METS have moved into 2020 with the commitment to deliver on the work secured in 2019 – effectively and with efficiency.

“The work we have in hand is sufficient for at least the next 24 months to grow the business, which includes sinking a new utility shaft in New Mexico in the United States,” says Glover.

Sinking will be undertaken in joint venture with a local business and will commence in June this year. Once completed in 2022, the final shaft will measure 8 m in diameter and extend to 693 m below the surface.

“This is a good demonstration of the company’s expanding international footprint, both in Africa and further afield.

Closer to home, METS Mining has secured the design work for a new large project in Botswana. Work has already started and will continue for the majority of the year.

The intention is to progress into procurement and construction in the next few months.

In South Africa METS Mining is further performing two shaft refurbishment jobs in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga.

The last few years has seen many of the older mines suffer financial strain as a result of weak commodity prices, increased running costs and labour costs, combined with declining ore grades.

The ongoing challenge from UMS Group’s perspective is not to neglect investing in and further optimising its technologies and business practices that gives the company an edge whilst growing its order book. Safety and optimising production performance in particular are key priorities.

METS Process is equally busy and is currently conducting two detailed engineering scopes of work for two southern African gold process plants – both of which is expected to move into execution phase this year.

“UMS has positioned itself as a highly skilled business with expertise ranging across the entire value chain whose purpose is to serve the needs of the mining industry – from concept to closure. We believe this positions us as niche service provider,” Glover concludes.