Adopting a robust approach to a dynamic marketplaceOn the back of 28 years of African engineering success, SENET is well positioned to enhance its impressive pedigree of engineering design and project management expertise in the African mining industry, writes MD Hugo Swart and New Business Development Director Darren Naylor.
2017 has proved to be another successful year for SENET, where once again we have effectively undertaken a remarkable number of base and precious metal projects and studies. We consider ourselves to be very fortunate to have maintained our success during the worst periods of the recent recession, and yet we know that we cannot afford to be complacent in an extremely dynamic and competitive marketplace.
We attribute our on-going success to the dedication of our people (totalling around 300 at present) and to the loyalty of a strong, diverse and growing client base, as well as to our ability to offer cost-competitive prices, and our commitment to remain based in South Africa from which we continue to grow our footprint in Africa and even further afield.
For the past few years, declining commodity prices, which drive mining activity, have steadily applied pressure to the industry and although SENET has fared remarkably well in comparison with many of its peers during this period, we cannot pretend that the slowdown has not also put pressure on the business. The current reality is that project work is less and developments are smaller.
As times have become harder and competition in Africa more aggressive, we have continuously sought to find better and more creative ways of servicing our clients and tailoring our service offering to meet their specific needs. It’s no longer business as usual and we need to be exceptional in the execution of our services, as well as to diversify our service offering to meet the broader needs of the marketplace. Industry sentiment is however improving and recent rebounds in commodity prices and the resultant industry pipeline activity, which is presently at its highest level since 2013, bodes well for everyone in the African mining space going into 2018.
At SENET, we are also gearing up the business not only to capitalise on the improving position within our core markets and services, but also to aggressively roll out a synergistic diversification strategy. This will see the business enhance its service offering into operations and maintenance services, through a newly established company, SENOPS, and further through the on-going pursuit of renewable energy solar photovoltaic (PV) plants to offset diesel costs for mining operations. Both strategies are directly aligned to our core services as we believe it is imperative to enhance our services throughout the supply value chain. SENOPS is the perfect representation where through a vertical integration we have moved into complete operations and maintenance services, including operational readiness, commissioning and ramp-up services – thereby broadening our scope and making it more inclusive. Our renewable energy services offering represents a horizontal shift in focus, but it remains true to the same mining market and client base. We are also reigniting our materials handling competence by adopting a catalogued supply approach to SENET’s proprietary heap leaching, stacking and agglomeration equipment, which is an exciting initiative to come in 2018.
Further abroad SENET hopes to capitalise on its world-class hydrometallurgical leadership and expertise to open up and secure work in the Americas. “We have one of the best and most experienced hydrometallurgical technical teams on the continent and arguably the globe, and with our cost-effective approach, we truly believe that we will add significant value to copper and cobalt producers in North and South America.” SENET remains a South Africa based service provider with a truly African stronghold, particularly in gold, copper and more recently cobalt. This is fortunate, considering the upswing in cobalt prices due to the rapidly increasing demand for electric vehicles. Our expertise extends to most commodities in base and precious metals as well as into bulk commodities such as iron ore and potash.
As the completion of one of our major development projects (Hummingbird Resources’ Yanfolila gold project in Mali) approaches, we are fortunate enough to have an extensive pipeline of study work. This includes a feasibility study for a major new gold project in Senegal and the evaluation of incorporating a renewable energy project into another of the same client’s operations in Mali. SENET’s study footprint currently also extends into Morocco, Sudan and Ethiopia.
One of SENET’s biggest and most complex projects, a ‘copper cobalt’ project in the DRC, has recently gone into commissioning of its first phase. We also have a lot of project work in the central African Copperbelt, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia, which remains one of the company’s strongest regions for business and is set to continue for the next few years. Our ability to do work so successfully in this jurisdiction is undeniably one of SENET’s most distinguishing features, notwithstanding our dominant hydrometallurgical skills-set and specific alignment to such projects within the region, where we stand head and shoulders above our peers.
The future for SENET is positive and we are well positioned to exploit the opportunities at hand in 2018. We will, however, continue to adopt a cautious approach to growth and remain prudent in adapting and gearing ourselves to meet the demands of a dynamic industry.
2018 is the third year SENET has chosen to sponsor Mining Review Africa’s Elites in Africa yearbook publication. This alone is a clear indication that we see value in how this book is positioned in the market and the opportunities it creates for our business. It effectively provides us with a marketing tool platform which spans the entire year, effectively assisting SENET reach its target audience across the globe through its extensive distribution. We truly believe there is no better platform or publication tool which enables us to talk directly to our current and potential client base.
Image source: SENET