JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Mining project house DRA, which has hit the gold project high spots in particularly West Africa, is now well poised to extend that gold triumph further into Central Africa, East Africa and also South Africa.
DRA’s impressive penetration of the gold project market has been characterised by successfully tackling everything from smallish gold projects to very large multibillion-dollar versions.
The company exhibited the same alacrity in delivering a $30-million engineering, procurement and construction lump sum turnkey gold-mine project in Burkina Faso as it did in delivering a $1.6-billion engineering, procurement and construction management mega-gold project in a remote part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). (Also watch attached Creamer Media video).
At the end of 2010, it identified the need to look beyond South Africa’s borders, and now six years on, DRA MD Johann de Bruin is very excited about the growing gold potential in many parts of Africa, including South Africa itself, where the company is involved in gold tailings retreatment in Mpumalanga and is pursuing smaller entrepreneur-driven tailings retreatment ventures at old gold tailings dams in the Blyvooruitzicht and Pilgrim’s Rest areas.
Also opening up as gold project opportunities for the company are Witwatersrand deposits so old that they are still measured in pennyweights per ton, but which are ticking up in attractiveness with every gold price lift.
“We aggressively looked at growing our market share in the gold space over the last six or seven years and we are very proud of the fact that we were able to do that,” said De Bruin, who was accompanied by DRA director Glenn Bezuidenhout, who encouraged the company to concentrate on gold way back when its main focus was on the barrage of work it had in platinum, coal and diamonds.
“The gold sector is such an exciting sector and we talk about all the exciting destinations we go to, but the bulk of the known gold reserves are still here on the Witwatersrand,” De Bruin commented to Mining Weekly Online.
With its roots firmly in South Africa, DRA has a profound understanding of the South African mining industry across such a wide spectrum that it is also able to offer winder engineering expertise and deep-level experience.
De Bruin sees an enormous opportunity in local deep-level mining, where DRA is able to add significant value, as well as at the extreme opposite tailings-retreatment end of the mining business.
“We all drive past the large volume of tailings on surface and there is the debate around the environmental risk. As a result, there are a number of projects at the moment where owners are looking to recover gold that is effectively on the surface,” said De Bruin.
DRA’s employee complement in Johannesburg stands just shy of 1 000. In the Americas, the company employs around 300 and in the Pacific region under 100; it also has a small office in India.
The bulk of the staff are qualified engineering staff, and the company likes to tell the world that it is an engineering business owned and managed by engineers.
The company has identified that it is moving into an era where there is a need for bridge financing.
While it does not hold itself out as a financial lender, it has set up a fund primarily to provide finance to bridge funding shortfalls for projects with the right fundamentals.
In such cases, it may choose to finance the bankable feasibility study that it undertakes.
“We’ve found that to be quite successful in getting some projects over the hurdle, where there is a shortfall,” De Bruin outlined to Mining Weekly Online.
This has been introduced against the backdrop of the conventional lending fraternity invariably only lending up to a certain point.
Viable opportunities often then just need a little more funding to get them over the line, and that is what DRA is prepared to consider.
Obviously, the financing that it puts on the table is not going to be the cheapest because financing is not the company’s core business.
The company has diversified its engineering offering considerably, all the way from the pure mining consultancy of providing mine plans for hard- and soft-rock, deep-level mining and opencast undertakings to energy, all the infrastructure that supports mines, and even agricultural development to create sustainability for near-mine communities.
“The mining engineering service is part of our offering and then we offer everything around that,” De Bruin explained.
It has just developed and managed two hydropower projects, has capability to provide the water services and can provide everything associated with residential development.
Safety is a big part of what DRA drives. It has worked in regions where the concept of being unskilled had to be completely redefined. Following the implementation of training programmes, it has been able to deliver more than nine-million injury-free hours at a complex project in the DRC. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video).