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Despite the effects of the COVID-19 on the mining industry’s bottom line due to temporary mine closures, supply chain disruptions and reduced workforces, mining engineering consultancy Bara Consulting has weathered the pandemic storm to come out stronger, more resilient and ready to adapt to the changing needs and realities of the mining sector in the new normal. CHANTELLE KOTZE writes.

While any prediction on the future for the global mining industry remains a guess, as the impact of the pandemic cannot yet fully be measured, “one thing is for certain –the post-COVID-19 world will look a little different to what we have become accustomed to,” says MD and founding partner Jim Pooley.

This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 10, 2020
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Despite initial disruptions within the African mining industry and the resulting uncertainty around the impact or duration of the pandemic causing mining companies to shelve exploration and expansion plans, the mining industry has bounced back relatively quickly in the past few months as infection rates are brought under control and as restrictions are gradually lifted.

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In its eight years of business, Bara Consulting has consistently grown the company year on year. Despite experiencing a setback in its growth during 2018, the company resumed its upward growth trajectory in 2019 and 2020.

“Despite experiencing a contraction in March, Bara Consulting resumed normal operations in April as several of its desktop-based projects were able to continue unabated,” notes Pooley.

Defying the pandemic situation, Bara was awarded new work in mid-April – a trend that has continued since.

On the back of this, the company is in a very strong position and is confident of its growth in 2021 having begun the current financial year with a stronger than usual order book, as shelved projects are restarted and as new work continues to be awarded.

According to Bara Consulting principal mining engineer Clive Brown, the company’s healthy mix of both project development and operational projects, allowed it to mitigate some of the risk it would likely have faced had it only been working on operational projects, whose main focus was to conserve cash in the face of the pandemic, while the more risk-averse project development companies were able to maintain their development momentum.

With the gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions, Bara Consulting has restarted work at one of its two major operation projects in South Africa.

Read more about mining in South Africa

“If we are able to maintain our current trajectory within the African mining sector, we foresee a busy next 12 months,” says Pooley, who is cautiously optimistic about the medium term, based on its order book.

Brown echoes these sentiments noting that decreased global mineral stocks could potentially see a period of high demand to rebuild these stocks as quickly as possible.

Moreover, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bara Consulting was appointed to conduct several due diligence and review studies for companies looking to transact or invest in projects in Africa.

“This may be the first green shoots evidence that the mining industry is recovering, says Pooley, noting that this is just one more reason to be cautiously optimistic about the company’s future growth.