Can you highlight the main milestones achieved by SRK Consulting in the past year?

Over the past year, SRK Consulting celebrated a significant milestone of operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo for a decade. Notably, SRK Congo is primarily owned by Congolese staff who have steadily grown the firm’s technical consulting services.

What are the key concerns for mining clients, and could you provide a case study on how SRK Consulting supports its clients in addressing these challenges?

Mining clients are increasingly concerned about Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors. While ESG presents risks, it also offers innovation opportunities and advantages if managed effectively. For example, focusing on ESG can attract passionate staff, build positive relationships with host communities, and create new business models and markets.

Decarbonization and climate change adaptation have garnered significant attention, and the mining industry has set ambitious targets. Creating local supply chains, which can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, requires investing in host communities to develop businesses that can supply required goods.

SRK’s significant contribution to addressing ESG risk lies in its cross-disciplinary approach. A prime example is SRK’s work in assisting clients to meet the requirements of the Global Industry Standards on Tailings Management (GISTM). These projects involve a diverse range of specialists, including tailings engineers, disaster management experts, climate change and water specialists, as well as social scientists working closely with host communities.

Water management is another area of concern for mining executives. Mines must be good neighbors and contribute positively to their host regions. This includes ensuring equitable water distribution among communities, industries, agriculture, and other users. Adopting a water stewardship approach helps place water management in its rightful context.

In a recent project in South Africa’s Northern Cape province, SRK assisted a mining client in understanding the complex links between the mine and the local community regarding water supply. With their only source being the Orange River, the mine aimed to strike a better balance between demand and supply. Through this process, the mine identified opportunities to build resilience and secure its social license.

How does SRK Consulting help mining companies prepare for increasingly frequent extreme weather conditions?

SRK has developed capabilities in climatic global circulation models, enabling site-specific predictions of anticipated weather conditions. These predictions are validated through monitoring and trend reporting, allowing effective planning and adaptive management to mitigate uncertainty.

What are some of the revolutionary technologies that have had the most impact on exploration outcomes?

The digital revolution has accelerated the pace of exploration compared to previous decades by eliminating many manual and time-consuming tasks. SRK Exploration Services has developed a tool called Management & Valuation through Absolute Prospectivity (M-VAP), which helps companies value, manage, and forecast their exploration efforts. M-VAP replaces traditional relative prospectivity with a quantified “absolute prospectivity” that estimates the probabilities of discovering deposits of different magnitudes within a specific area of interest. It can also be used for exploration monitoring, capital allocation, and forecasting future performance.

Exploration budgets in South Africa attract less than 1% of the global total, while exploration activity is increasing in other African countries. Do you believe exploration in the continent has become more decentralized, and if so, why?

Unfortunately, South Africa is currently ill-equipped to support and nurture smaller exploration and mining companies. Despite this trend, South Africa has the potential to revitalize exploration, attract investors, and engage junior miners.

Why do you think more mining companies prefer to outsource their engineering services rather than relying on in-house capacity?

Large mining companies traditionally had self-contained technical departments with lower staff turnover. However, with the complexity of the mining environment and the addition of new technical challenges, in-house technical teams have faced increased workloads. SRK Consulting was founded to provide complex technical solutions to geotechnical problems and gradually expanded its services to address other aspects. This focus on technical expertise has attracted engineers and scientists dedicated to improving their skills and providing ongoing technical consulting to many mining companies and mines. As a result, SRK often has staff members with longer tenures on a given asset compared to in-house teams, who may move to other roles within the organization.

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