Africa’s mining industry may no longer be feeling the worst effects of the past low commodity price recession but nonetheless remain impacted by a global investment market who are extremely risk averse and conservative when lending money.
This environment has opened the door to a new breed of engineering firms, who unlike many large-scale conglomerates, offer low overhead costs, extensive industry experience and no hierarchy structures that prevent quick decision-making. Erudite Strategies, established early in 2017, offers these benefits to the market, and more, writes LAURA CORNISH.
This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 1, 2019
Established in February 2017, Erudite Strategies is the brainchild of Johann de Bruin – the company’s project development executive who boasts extensive experience engineering small and large-scale mining projects in Africa.
Having felt, what he describes as the negative impacts of a global industry that has undergone extensive consolidation over recent years, he felt the need to build an engineering company that truly caters to the needs of the South African and African mining industry.
“In the space of nearly two years, Erudite Strategies has quickly formed a reputation that reflects the sector’s engineering requirements – a sound knowledge of the African working environment, tried and tested industry expertise, simple management structure and most importantly, a commitment to building a truly transformed continent. It has become essential to be and stay relevant in the countries in which you operate through this well rounded solutions offering,” De Bruin outlines.
Erudite Strategies offers a cradle-to-grave service including consulting, project development, financial assistance and project execution.
It has also refined its owners team service offering which has become essential to the majority of Africa’s small and mid-tier mining sector who are not always equipped with the necessary expertise to build a project in this complex environment.
Each founding member of Erudite Strategies has between 25 and 30 years of experience in the mining industry, all with well-established reputations - so the road ahead literally seems paved with gold.
And because these shareholders capitalised the business their motivation to ensure it succeeds is unquestionable.
“On the back of our skills sets we have built the second, equally important foundation block of our business – being fully transformed and in so doing have positioned ourselves to deliver on one of our core strategies – to set the example of how to drive real transformation in the sector,” De Bruin reveals.
To effectively deliver on this objective, De Bruin connected with Vince Raseroka - a man equally passionate about building a stronger South Africa through transformation.
He too is equally skilled in building and growing companies having fulfilled various CEO roles and securing large-scale private equity deals in Africa over his career.
“My values are aligned with that of Erudite Strategies which together provides us with the opportunity to build a better South Africa (in the mining sector). Our skills sets are complementary and has enabled us to start building a world-class business which is still relevant and respectful of local conditions and requirements. From this position we know we will make a difference,” says Reseroka, executive chairman for Erudite.
To validate this commitment, he highlights that while the government is eager to give land back to its inhabitants through its land expropriation initiative, many don’t know how to monetise the opportunity government is looking to provide.
“We can facilitate and partner on potential businesses in this area and help drive the creation and establishment of a new vibrant sector – from the point of attaining the necessary licences to building a strong business case and thereafter executing it.”
Beyond South Africa, the unified Erudite team is taking Africa by storm with the understanding that Africa is not a single continent with a single set of rules, but rather 53 different countries – each with its own set of requirements, languages, cultures, legal systems and histories.
“We understand this and can deliver projects successfully to market on the back of this understanding – which in many cases the international market doesn’t really comprehend,” De Bruinn notes.
Building a solid track record - quickly
Through their relationships with the mining sector in Africa, Erudite Strategies is making quick work of building a project footprint on the continent.
“We are focusing much of our attention on industrial minerals used in battery manufacturing (including lithium, graphite, nickel, vanadium and cobalt) which is a strong sector of the market helping contribute to a technologically driven global future. We understand this fickle market better than most in terms of supply and demand and offer this additional expertise to our clients to help ensure profitability by right-sizing the project in context of current and incoming supply,” De Bruin explains.
The company has to date delivered a 43-101 compliance report for a Canadian-owned graphite project in Madagascar and more recently has picked up project work in South Africa for a number of the country’s major mining houses – in PGMs, manganese and coal.