London, UK,

The criticality of collaboration in the mining sector

Malcolm Brown, Director of Mining for Asia, Middle East, Africa and Southern Europe

With any service industry - and we are a service organisation - there are two critical factors that an organisation must achieve. The first is to secure profitable work and the second is to ensure the work is executed excellently. Failure to achieve either of these fundamental outcomes will result in the longer term demise of an organisation.

The mining sector is currently in a severe downturn phase, where the boom of the past decade has been replaced with a bust as the oversupply in the market takes time to balance the demand. In all downturns (and this would be my fourth in a 30 year career), there are always capital project opportunities, but competition is fierce as service providers battle to secure the diminished volume of work.

So what are we doing to improve our ability to secure these opportunities and to deliver them excellently?

Being a global organisation, we have an incredible pool of expertise spread all over the world and a footprint that gives us a depth of knowledge about almost any location. To beat the competition and deliver what we promise requires us to tap into this knowledge base, whether technical or location specific expertise. This has been a focus of our sector over the past few years and we have been very successful.

  • The Çöpler Sulfide Expansion Project in Turkey was secured by tapping into the technical expertise in Perth and Vancouver, teaming it up with our office in Istanbul and utilising our Milan office’s knowledge of working in the region.

  • The Roy Hill detailed design work for Samsung in Australia was secured by utilising expertise in Perth for large‑scale iron ore mines, combined with the lower cost of engineering out of China and our presence in Korea to interface with the customer.

  • The Husab Uranium Project in Namibia combined our technical expertise in South Africa and Australia with our procurement expertise in China and our large‑scale construction experience from a number of locations including Canada and the Middle East.

  • The Ngualla Rare Earths study in Tanzania is utilising Perth’s technical skills, as well as MDM Engineering’s Tanzanian construction capability out of Johannesburg, and our UK downstream processing expertise.

  • The Ilovica Copper Project in Macedonia combines our South African and Australian technical expertise with our experience of operating in the Balkans area to complete the feasibility study.

These are but a few examples where truly global collaboration has enhanced our ability to secure and execute a number of mining projects excellently.

Collaboration – the key to success in a tough market.

Meet the blogger

Malcolm BrownMalcolm Brown has over 30 years' continuous involvement in project management and design in Australia, Africa and Asia, predominantly in the resources sector. Malcolm successively held the positions of Project Manager, Engineering Manager, Manager Projects, Operations Manager and General Manager. In his initial project management experience he undertook a number of lump sum turnkey projects as well as supervising such projects when he headed their Projects Division. This grounding in fixed price projects has given Malcolm a clear understanding of the value of engineering and the need for local knowledge in order to successfully deliver these types of projects.