Transformation continues to remain a priority in the South African mining industry, and Swartz Technical Consulting (STC) is the first 100 percent black and female-owned business to provide specialised process engineering design services that assist both junior and international mining houses in unlocking the in-situ value of their ore bodies.

Johannesburg-based STC specialises in process engineering related to scoping studies, feasibility studies and operational reviews. The company offers comprehensive design and operational services in platinum group metals (PGM) processing, chromite processing and upgrading, gold beneficiation, uranium processing and copper beneficiation.

STC was established in 2013 by founder Bronwyn Swartz – a chemical engineer with substantial experience working with multinational mining companies and design consultancies. “I established the company after identifying the need for a local consultancy that provides experienced engineers in a transformative and substantive manner, which is not currently reflected.”

Swartz believes that a combination of Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) compliance, together with proven expertise and capabilities, sets STC apart from its competitors. “By delivering our services in a proficient and competitive manner, STC adds value to a client’s operation while contributing substantially towards measurable empowerment too.”

According to Swartz, STC provides the process engineering services that result in the specification of the beneficiation process and related equipment required to construct a treatment facility. “Operational sites with optimisation requirements are also serviced by STC. This is significant in the market, as owners are expecting increased performance from capital assets while deferring capital spend.”

She adds that STC studies cover the full project lifecycle, from the conceptual to the definitive feasibility stage. “Deliverables include defining test work programmes, supervising the execution of the test work, detailed design and operating cost estimates. The various aspects are delivered in a format suitable for both investment and implementation purposes. Typical optimisation aspects for operational sites include debottlenecking, optimising grinding circuit performance, commissioning of plants and control systems.”

Swartz does admit that STC faces a number of challenges due to the current volatility in the local mining sector. “The market is depressed and characterised by a focus on reducing costs while increasing productivity. Another major challenge is the platinum sector recovery from the protracted strike that affected both the industry and national economic outcomes as a whole.”

The contraction of capital spend in the mining sector in recent years leads to further uncertainty, adds Swartz. “The contraction is not unexpected when taking into account all of the negative market forces which mining houses are having to contend with currently.”

Despite the challenges, Swartz believes that Africa as a whole has a significant role as a mining powerhouse and as custodian of the in-situ minerals. She does, however, believe that a significant amount of work is required to ensure that the continent receives an equitable share of value.

“As a transformation-driven process engineering consultancy, STC’s vision is to grow and develop from grassroots level, while creating employment opportunities across a broad range of skills. I am optimistic that this will assist the company in breaking into new and exciting markets such as iron ore and coal in the foreseeable future,” she concludes.

Top Stories:
Leading transformation in the local beneficiation industry

First Nigeria tops SA, now Mauritius eager to rival Joburg, says Imara
Infographic: Trans-African highways for ‘pit to port’ planning