July 2017 saw the establishment of a new joint venture company specialising in operations and maintenance contracts in the minerals processing sector which is set to broaden SENET’s service offering in the market but more importantly, further enhance its relationships with its client base – both existing and new.
The new company – SENOPS (SENET Operations) – is being steered by a driven and energetic MD Paul Thomson, a metallurgical engineer by profession, who boasts in excess of 25 years of experience in the mining and minerals sector of which 15 years were in the field of outsourced operations and maintenance – across multiple jurisdictions in Africa and multiple commodities including diamonds, PGMS, gold, copper (SX-EW), coal, chrome, zirconia, uranium and iron ore (magnetite and haematite).
“This new business aligns with SENET’s strategy to roll out a synergistic diversification strategy that broadens the business scope and offering, while still supporting its core strengths. Interaction between both businesses is a vital element in building success quickly and I will ensure and facilitate this,” Thomson explains.
SENOPS’ main focus and priority areas include operational readiness, plant audits and commissioning support, for SENET projects naturally but also for plants that are already operating. “We have already submitted tenders on a number of projects and expect to see traction for our efforts very shortly.” Like SENET, SENOPS will target the entire African market, from smaller-scale juniors and emerging miners to some of the larger players on the continent.
“Regardless of the type of work we provide, our approach will always be the same – delivering a service that becomes invaluable to the client, making it easy to rely and depend on us. This however is only effective if we align our interest and focus strongly with the client’s team and business plan and provide assistance at all levels, even if that falls outside of our core scope of work.”
And while SENOPS will naturally align itself with SENET’s clients and commodities focus, it is positioning itself to acquire contracts across the full commodity spectrum. “The principles of operations and maintenance services in essence remain the same.”
Although SENOPS has yet to acquire its first major contract, it is ready to start: Thomson says he can deploy teams with commissioning experience into Africa immediately. In support of localisation, SENOPS will also recruit and train incountry employees.
To bridge the gap until SENOPS takes on its first big project, the company will focus on areas it can quickly get involved in and assist with. This includes operational readiness, plant audits, trouble-shooting and then commissioning and rampup support. “We will draw on SENET’s expertise in these areas to assist us.” From this point, the company should naturally transition into full operations and maintenance contracts, technical review and plant debottlenecking project work – for all mining and miningassociated plants.
VITAL FOR THE INDUSTRY
There are limited operations and maintenance contract service providers and Thomson believes the industry is ready for increased competition and varied choice within this specialised field. “It will ensure cost-competitive pricing structures. The industry is also desperately in need of a new player and an alternative that can breathe fresh air into their processes and systems with flexibility to offer tailor-made solutions to suit specific needs.”
“Because we are fully integrated into SENET, we have significant skill sets at our fingertips to support our business; therefore, we are not functioning as a new entrant into the market but rather as a well-established expert. Our parent company will also enable us to develop relationships with a client early in the development process, so that we can provide assistance and advice from an early stage. After all, this game is to a large extent driven by relationships.”
Thomson has very clear objectives and a strategy to see SENOPS grow and build its brand and identity in the industry. He reveals that he has established a significant number of deliverables for 2018. The future is bright and the company has left the starting blocks and at the end of 2017 was underway with an operational readiness support project for a major copper/cobalt focused mining house in the DRC, in which SENOPS has fully integrated with the client’s project team.
Image source: SENET