Let’s start with some background on Lebedev Consulting and what you do in the mining sector?
Lebedev Consulting is a specialised professional service provider focused on dynamic simulation of the mining and associated industries such as mineral beneficiation, hydro- and pyro-metallurgy, transport and logistics. Through simulation, we provide system analysis of the mining operations and find bottlenecks, test remedy measures, improve utilisation and, in short, help the mines produce more at lower cost.
And can we look more specifically at your operations in the DRC?
A study was completed for Boss mining on their Luita RAL copper eletrowinning plant, but nothing has been done since then
Any specific projects that Lebedev Consulting is involved with at its mining operations in the DRC that you are particularly excited about at the moment?
Unfortunately nothing in terms of current involvement, but there are quite a few projects presently on the go which offer exciting opportunities such as Tenke Fungurume, Kibali Gold, Kipoi copper project to name just a few.
What in your view are the main challenges to the sector right now?
The main challenge from our viewpoint is to adapt to low commodity prices which is far more difficult than other way around. In “fat” years when prices (and perhaps margins) are high capacity overshadows efficiency, and people rush to build new capacity sometimes at a premium. When the market collapses, efficiency and cost containment help the miners to survive, but to achieve it is challenging. It basically boils down to retaining the minimum necessary and utilising it with the best possible efficiency. Excessive capacity built previously is not so liquid to yield good value to the owners hence sacrifice has to be taken.
What is your vision for this sector?
The commodity price collapse we are observing now is neither the first nor the last one to come. Mining is and will always remain a vital industry for mankind, as despite all high-tech sectors grasping an incredible market share around the globe, no software, gadgets and telecoms will create/replace materials to satisfy basic needs to build infrastructure, motorcars, appliances etc. As long as humans remain in place, some form of mining will continue, albeit may acquire a totally new shape such as marine or outer space. Remember “Avatar”, what appears sci-fi now may become reality fairly soon.
You are presenting in the upcoming DRC Mining Week on “Maintaining the sustainability of mining operations in pair with EPC innovation” – what will be your message at the event?
Cost containment and efficiency, coming hand in hand, is the answer to the present industry challenges, and every mine on earth has a potential for improvement and perhaps, survival in the given difficult times. Let’s find that potential and minimise unit cost as far as possible, market is always out there as long as the goods come with the right price tag.
How important is iPAD and the DRC Mining Week on the mining calendar in the region?
We believe iPAD and the DRC Mining week are important events in the region, hope they will develop into an equivalent of Electra Mining in South Africa. We definitely see African mining, Zambia and Congo including, as a sunrise industry which will serve as a vehicle of African industrial development and wish both events grow from strength to strength promoting regional mining in all aspects.
Anything you would like to add?
Thank you and good luck to us all!