HomeBase MetalsTWP EXPANDS


Nigel Townshend

TWP Holdings CEO
Nigel Townshend

TWP Holdings Limited CEO Nigel Townshend says that the company is going through massive expansion, driven largely by the booming demand for resources. “To achieve sustainable growth we need to follow the trends and needs of new and existing clients as they shift their search for metals and minerals to underexplored parts of the world and at greater depths than ever before,” he adds.

TWP – headquartered in Johannesburg and with a staff of more than 750 – has taken several strategic decisions to make these objectives a reality.

“For a start,’’ Townshend reveals, “we are planning to list on the main board of the Johannesburg Securities Exchange by November, affording us access to the capital and resources that will enable us to expand our services and reach into new markets.”

Another part of the plan is the establishment of offices in countries where there are prospects for growth. This is where the group’s ambitions for Africa could see it establishing permanent offices in various countries north of the Limpopo.

“We have opened offices in Perth, Australia (TWP Australia), and have a start-up operation in Ankara in Turkey (TWP Eurasia),” Townshend says.

TWP Eurasia is in the start-up stages, but TWP Australia has already secured the biggest shaft project in that region by winning the EPCM contract for the US$500 million (R3.5 billion) Leinster Nickel Operations, Perseverance Deeps Project of BHP Billiton Nickel West Pty Limited.

“Our other opportunities for growth are in Africa, with Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) definite strategic options,” he contends. This can be attributed to the mining boom on the Zambian copper belt, and the return of stability to the previously war-torn DRC.


The No. 1 Shaft underground
pump station

“We are considering setting up an office in either Kitwe or Ndola to service the Zambian operations and the initial drive into the DRC,” Townshend adds. The fully-staffed office would be able to provide critical mining engineering and support services, while other, more specialised services would be sourced from the Johannesburg office. “Our market offering has evolved to a point where we are the only complete professional solutions supplier to the African mining industry with a service that spans resource identification, bankable feasibility studies, mine and production planning, process engineering, project execution, delivery and project handover,” Townshend claims.

“Many of these resources are scarce, so we centralise them in Johannesburg for use by our outlying offices in South Africa,” he explains, “and modern communication and computer systems will enable TWP to provide the same services to our offices further afield in Africa.”

TWP is already involved with developments in Zambia and the DRC. In Zambia, it has been appointed to work on the Vedanta Resources US$200 million (R1.4 billion) capital expansion project at the Konkola Copper Mine’s No 4 Shaft, near Chingola.

The company has been awarded the design contract for the shaft sinking and permanent headgear, shaft steelwork and underground shaft rock handling systems for No 4 Shaft. The project will deepen the Konkola mine to 1.5 km to access 250 million tons of copper ore, and is expected to extend the life of the mine to 2032. The project will be completed in 2011.

“Current work on the Konkola project is progressing well and the pre-sink was completed in May 2007,” Townshend reports.

TWP is also designing the new underground water treatment and pumping facility for No 4 Shaft. Konkola is the wettest deep mine in the world, and TWP needs to design a pump facility with the capacity to pump 280 million litres of water a day, which equates to 23 million litres an hour, through 15 pumps.


Southerly view of No. 4 Shaft site (No. 1
Shaft headgear in the background)

The company has also secured work in the DRC through TMP, its joint venture with Matomo Projects. TWP is working on the engineering and design of a new base metals refinery for the R1.1 billion Metorex Ruashi II copper project in the DRC.

Study work and basic engineering and optimisation are complete and detailed engineering and procurement is in progress. All areas are expected to be commissioned and operational before the end of 2008.

In Zimbabwe TWP has been appointed as the EPCM contractor for part of Vhumbanani – the company’s equally-owned operation with DRA Minerals Projects – for the Unki platinum mine project.

The value of the project is approximately R2.1billion and consists of an underground mine capable of producing 120 000 tpm, and a 120 000 tpm concentrator. The mine is scheduled to start production in 2009, and to reach full operation in the fourth quarter of 2010. Additional infrastructure to be constructed will be a 33 km, 132 kV power line and an 8 km RAW water line. The project planners are also looking at the possibility of building 915 houses as staff accommodation.

TWP’s environmental services division, TWP-ES, has been appointed to compile the documentation for compliance implementation of the existing environmental management programme, the final licence application for the proposed power line, as well as additional licences as required.

In north-eastern Botswana, LionOre South Africa (Pty) Limited has appointed TWP-ES to conduct a feasibility study of its Selkirk nickel operation, with a view to future open cast mining of lower grade deposits, in addition to underground mining operations. Included in the project is the construction of a 66 kV power line, a water pipeline from the Dikgatlhong Dam, as well as the diversion of the current access road to the mine.


Konkola No. 4 Shaft stage
winches during pre-sink

TWP-ES will compile all the environmental documentation as required by the South African Government, Equator Principles, World Bank Standards and IFC guidelines.

The documents include the pre-feasibility study and gap analysis, environmental licence applications, scoping document, social and environmental impact assessment and all supporting documentation based on the social and environmental specialist studies. A health, safety, environmental and community impact assessment will also be completed.

“As evidenced from these projects, TWP already has a significant involvement in Africa, and one or more offices to service these and other clients with projects in the pipeline will be a logical next step,” Townshend points out.

“We are confident that our growth in Africa will continue with the increasing number of opportunities, promoting our long-term commitment to the region,” Townshend concludes.