98-year old proudly South African engineering and environmental consulting firm Knight Piésold (SA) has strategically committed to expanding its footprint in Africa on the back of its growing track record across the continent.

Because the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in particular remains a strategic region for the company, it has repositioned its local office to comply with the country’s new sub-contracting legislation and is consequently well placed to take advantage of new business opportunities on its doorstep, environmental section manager AMELIA BRIEL tells LAURA CORNISH.

This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 4, 2019
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With some of the largest mining companies in Africa and some of the richest mineral resources in the world, the DRC has and continues to offer service providers such as Knight Piésold a vast array of opportunities to help build world-class sustainable operations.

The company is no stranger to the DRC – and has been delivering high quality projects and designs across the region for over a decade. Briel has over this time established close working relationships with numerous local mining houses and understands the requirements necessary to do business there.

“People’s perceptions about the DRC are negative and they shouldn’t be. If local processes and procedures are adhered to, it is possible to do business in the country,” Briel states.

In fact, Knight Piésold is optimistic about the DRC’s future and believes the scope of potential opportunities within its realm of service expertise is extensive.

Having executed a wide range of different services including impact studies, water monitoring. tailings supervision, geotechnical studies, etc., the company is fully equipped to deliver on all three service pillars in the country.

These include consulting and engineering designs in the fields of mine residue (environmental and geotechnical), hydropower (power and water) and roads and infrastructure.

Fully compliant

The primary success to doing business in the DRC is complying with its legislative requirements Briel notes, adding that the country amended its laws for sub-contractors two years ago with a 12-month grace period to fulfil the new compliancy requirements.

“We are now fully compliant with these new laws and as such are well positioned to take on new work,” Briel states. Although extensive, she highlights the key legislative conditions:

  1. Sub-contractors must have a registered office in the country;
  2. The majority of the share capital must be held by natural or legal persons of Congolese nationality;
  3. The management bodies must be majority managed by Congolese natural persons;
  4. The local office personnel must essentially comprise natural persons of Congolese nationality; and
  5. The sub-contractor must provide training to upskill Congolese personnel where necessary.

“Our restructured company in the DRC – Knight Piésold DRC SARL – meets all of these requirements and will be run and managed by local business head Dennis Kalondji,” Briel outlines.

“Moving forward, we will maintain our strategy to operate in the country under the principles we adhere to cross the globe – using good business practice and working with ethical integrity – and working closely with private sector to deliver on their environmental and engineering requirements.”

A solid track record

Knight Piésold has been involved in a wide variety of mining projects in the DRC over the last decade.  This includes geotechnical, environmental and mine residue studies.

“One of our current projects is to assist Banro Corporation’s Twangiza Mining SA with operational management and technical support for the tailings storage facility (TMF) at its Twangiza gold mine, located in the South Kivu district on the eastern border of the DRC,” Briel says.

The current tailings facility consists of a 152 m high engineered impoundment wall which is designed to be constructed as an interim wall raise and outer wall buttressing phases to a final TMF wall height of 170 m.

Knight Piésold’s scope of work includes ongoing construction supervision, operation surveillance, seepage assessments, slope stability analyses and design optimisation to ensure full compliance with the DRC Mining Regulations for TMF stability and the pertinent international best practice standards.

Knight Piésold has provided mine closure planning services to mining companies in DRC for the last decade. 

The company conducts the annual updates of closure liabilities in line with an internationally recognised closure cost model in order to fulfil the closure cost provisions of the Mining Code.

In terms of environmental studies, Knight Piésold also has a decade of experience in a wide variety of studies such as environmental impact studies, biodiversity management plans, rehabilitation plans and environmental monitoring in terms of the requirements of the DRC Mining Code.  

The company can further serve mining clients trough planning, design and construction supervision of the full range of civil infrastructure. 

This includes all types of roads – from haul roads to access roads – and pipelines for bulk water supply. 

Knight Piésold has an excellent track record of designing hydropower projects in DRC. 

This includes two run-of-river projects in the north-east of the DRC and the civil engineering component for a large-scale hydropower project aimed at supplying power to mines in the south of the country. 

The latter project will entail a roller-compacted concrete dam and hydropower works to produce up to 160 MW of power.

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