Global engineering services company Stantec is looking to grow its mining business on the African continent on the back of internationally recognised skill sets which have seen its footprint and track record expand across continents.
Having worked on a number of large-scale, company-changing projects in South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the company is already well positioned to deliver on its growth aspirations in the short-term future.
This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa, Edition 4 2018
Stantec is a truly global firm – it employs 22 000 people who are situated in 400 offices across six continents.
Jon Treen, Stantec’s senior vice president for mining adds that the company employs 700 people across three continents and five different countries in the mining division with offices in Perth, Australia; Lima, Peru; Santiago, Chile; throughout Canada and the western United States.
“Our focus has always extended beyond our current geographic footprint, especially in the areas of tailings management and associated infrastructure design (specifically for large tailings storage facilities (TSFs)), underground mine design and the design of infrastructure required to support both of these areas,” says Treen.
The company excels across these fields and is looking to bring its expertise to the African continent.
“Within the tailings market sector, we focus on design innovation as well as the reduction of risk to client, both environmentally and socially.”
“This is one of the company’s greatest strengths thanks to the acquisition of MWH in May 2016 which supplemented Stantec’s team with tailings-focused experts.
“Coupled with our tailings dam safety and stewardship audits, our capabilities are something highly sought after today,” continues Treen.
The company’s underground mine design and development processes and software provide clients with the best way to extract value from the ore and the ground.
“We minimise upfront capital costs and decrease ramp up time to assist in bringing production on stream as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“This is however always determined with the full understanding of our clients’ goals.”
Discussing Stantec’s infrastructure capabilities, Treen notes that the company constitutes a wide variety of mechanical, electrical, and structural engineering disciplines to support its mining capabilities and thanks to on site experience it is well equipped to deliver the design of head frames and shafts, optimisation of ventilation work or QA/QC evaluations to ensure designs are carried out correctly.
African strategy outlined
Stantec has a strategic growth plan and expanding its mining division to operate outside of its traditional territories is part of this plan – “Africa is one of the top target areas for consideration of this expansion and will likely be through the establishment of an office in Johannesburg.
“Through such an office we will be able to serve the vast metals and minerals projects and mines on the African continent, where places such as the DRC are thriving as demand for cobalt grows as the batteries markets expand.”
It is essential to position strong technical experts and project managers close to our clients to provide close interaction regularly and in so doing understand their needs and give timely responses Treen explains.
There are two elements to achieving the company’s expansion/growth strategy – the first is to “do great work and provide a great service,” Treen states.
“The company’s successes on Ivanhoe Mines’ Kamoa-Kakula project in the DRC and Platreef project in South Africa, and the award of Platinum Group Metals’ Waterberg project has already showcased this capability and service delivery.
“These projects have given us a great starting point to build a solid track record in Africa.”
The company also intends to stay focused on its niche services and is accustomed to working with other local firms to provide the best value for its clients.
“Our international footprint and the wide array of projects we’ve worked on gives us many data points on how to improve the feasibility and financial outcomes for new mines and mines already in operation.
“We have worked on some of the largest TSFs in the world and this track record also provides our clients with the comfort and knowledge of our capabilities on the back of high-calibre projects.”
Stantec’s growth strategies to date have traditionally incorporated acquisitions and this is an avenue the company is also currently pursuing to grow its presence in Africa. “An acquisition must be complementary with our current services and a good match with our culture and business philosophy.”
African track record in play
Stantec’s emergence into the African mining industry, as mentioned, is already quite advanced.
It has provided significant engineering contributions to some of the continent’s largest development projects.
It was one of the leading contractors during the Platreef definitive feasibility study (DFS), working closely with principal consultant DRA.
Its scope included all underground mining analysis on the project which is set to start at 4 Mtpa of ROM production, building up to 12 Mtpa thereafter.
“Our work at Platreef, and relationship with DRA led to our involvement on the Waterberg project and entails doing all the work below surface – accessing the mines, determining the best method to extract the ore and underground infrastructure to support the extraction as part of the greater DFS.
“Our subsequent appointment at the Waterberg project – a large-scale palladium project in South Africa – is a result of the excellent work we delivered at Platreef.”
Stantec has also provided services in the DRC, through Ivanhoe Mines’s Kamoa-Kakula project as well as the Tenke Fungurume mine, previously owned by Freeport McMoRan.
“We have been working in the Congo for the last 10 years through these projects,” Treen highlights.
This includes a preliminary-economic assessment (PEA) for Kamoa in 2013, followed by the pre-feasibility study (PFS) for the project and continuing to study, Kamoa-Kakula, which has now been confirmed as one of the largest copper deposit in the world.
“We are extremely proud to be associated with these projects.”
“The DRC may be considered a difficult jurisdiction to work in but our experience in this market gives us a strong foundation to successfully carry out work on other projects and at other mines o in the country.”
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