Transformation vital to realising the full economic benefits of mining in Africa, note experts

Erudite Group of Companies Chairman Vincent Raseroka and Chief Executive Officer Johann de Bruin discuss major opportunities and challenges in Africa’s mining sector, as well as the company’s growth plans and strategy for 2023.  

“After two years of pandemic-related disruptions, the African continent’s mining and commodities sector is ripe for expansion, offering countries a vital opportunity to drive sustainable socio-economic development and emerge as global powerhouses,” argues Vincent Raseroka, Executive Chairman of the Erudite Group of Companies.

“The trouble facing the minerals sector, however, remains a lack of transformation and localisation, preventing economies and businesses from realising its full benefits.”

As an African-focused engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) company, local success story Erudite has overcome this hurdle through a unique transformation-focused approach which emphasises local partnerships, skills development and country-specific solutions to support the development of sustainable mining businesses and enterprises.

This approach has proved enormously successful since its launch in February 2017, with the company experiencing meteoric growth and working on projects in Madagascar, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia, Peru, and South Africa.

“Erudite was founded on the principle that a truly transformed EPCM that could compete with the multi-nationals did not exist at the time,” explains Group Chief Executive Officer Johann de Bruin. 

“Today, Erudite has delivered projects of scale and has recently been appointed as lead EPCM on a multibillion-rand project, proving that it has secured a reputation that allows it to compete at the highest level with top transformation talent.”

Despite these achievements, the African mining sector continues to lag the overall recovery seen in other parts of the globe. In South Africa, for example, PWC analysis reveals that by mid-2022, the mining sector remained nearly 10% smaller than before the pandemic, employing 5% fewer individuals across various operations.

That said, Raseroka observes that Erudite has seen a notable rebound in new projects over the past year in line with global market trends. Growing demand is especially evident in the extraction and beneficiation of battery commodities needed for high-end products such as electrical vehicles. 

“Strong demand for minerals and rising commodity prices mean that this is a particularly exciting time for newcomers and start-ups in the industry. But it’s important to recognise the unique challenges present in each country and adapt accordingly to realise each project’s full potential rather than attempting a blanket, prescriptive approach.”

“Global mining companies typically favour multi-national EPCM companies for larger-scale projects.”

Vincent Raseroka, Executive Chairman of the Erudite Group of Companies

“Local EPCMs such as Erudite are perfectly positioned to benefit from this need, offering deep experience in African markets, as well as fostering local partnerships to better manage the many nuances of each of Africa’s 54 unique nations.”

Bridging the gap

Looking ahead, Raseroka notes that as part of its growth strategy, Erudite will continue targeting all mining clients irrespective of size and commodity, including small and medium-sized mining ventures. In this way, the company hopes to establish autonomous offices throughout Africa in keeping with its transformation objectives.

“Global mining companies typically favour multi-national EPCM companies for larger-scale projects. Our aim is to bridge the gap by providing world-class EPCM solutions to early-stage and developing ventures, as well as established global players,” he says.

“Additionally, by developing local expertise and establishing better working relationships with the community, we are able to achieve greater social acceptance, faster turnaround times and give local employees a meaningful stake in the success of our various operations and projects.”

De Bruin, a registered infrastructure professional, is quick to add that Erudite is specifically set up to facilitate diversification into the desperately needed infrastructure space across the continent.

In line with its strategy of establishing a sustainable brand across the continent, Erudite is currently in the process of establishing local entities in African countries with a majority shareholding in the hands of local nationals. Two of these businesses will be fully operational in the first quarter of 2023.

“We believe that our localisation and empowerment drive into the African continent will yield the development of sustainable engineering skills and businesses in the countries where we are active.

“This will ensure that we leave a lasting legacy in terms of wealth and job creation, stimulating local businesses, and transforming the industry for the benefit of communities as well as the companies and mine owners who will receive the benefit of local expertise,” he concludes.

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