African mining industry – new merger boosts offering for the sector

Industrial facilities specialist Wood Group has successfully merged with multinational consulting, engineering and project management firm Amec Foster Wheeler to form a new company – Wood – that specializes in project delivery, engineering, and technical services in the energy and industrial markets.

The new company – Wood, will leverage its combined expertise and skills to offer better services to clients in the African mining industry going forward, says Wood’s Europe, the Middle East and Africa mining business development director Trevor Anderson.
Amec Foster Wheeler and Wood Group separately have provided services to several industries, from oil and gas to power, environment and infrastructure and mining. The merger, which was formally announced earlier this month, will augment offerings to all these industries across the entire value chain, from the early stages of a project to detailed execution, commissioning and decommissioning. The merger also allows for an expanded client base.
Amec Foster Wheeler’s global mining solutions and technical expertise will be combined with Wood Group’s skills and expertise in innovation, technology and automation, which dovetails with the way in which the mining industry is moving forward – “working towards the mine of the future”. It will be interesting to see how the merger impacts on the mining industry’s adoption of new innovations adding that introducing them into the mining space will require a streamlined approach to ensure cost optimisation and efficiency are realized.

Amec Foster Wheeler’s offering to the mining industry includes expertise in front-end geology, mine design, mineral processing and environmental consulting through to engineering, procurement and construction management, operational support and mine closure. The company boasts a long history in African mining from a legacy standpoint and through acquisitions, over time, of mining-focused companies that have a history on the continent.

According to Anderson, most of the company’s work in Africa’s mining industry over the past three to five years has focused on the execution of one or two major projects with further study work ahead of future project execution.

In South Africa, the company has completed project work in the diamond and platinum space. However, Anderson indicates that up to 90% of Amec Foster Wheeler’s work has been done outside of the country, spanning several African countries and operations.
This includes engineering, procurement and construction management for Husab, in Namibia, a joint venture project in which Amec Foster Wheeler successfully commissioned and handed over the plant in December 2016, enabling the mine to begin commercial production. The company is still working with the client on site, providing additional services and looking at more areas of opportunity to further improve the asset.

In Ghana, Amec Foster Wheeler has conducted study work for several major gold players, specifically in terms of debottlenecking existing operations, as well as the recent completion of a gold feasibility study in Mauritania. It has also conducted several audits with emerging clients and study work for clients in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana and Malawi to name a few.

Amec Foster Wheeler’s presence in the African mining industry has been established through registered offices in key locations, including Botswana, Liberia and Ghana with more central mining support from the office in South Africa. While it is not unusual for the company to execute a project in West Africa, all the design and engineering work is usually conducted from its local base in South Africa.

Meanwhile, Amec Foster Wheeler has numerous new projects in the pipeline, including a significant gold project in West Africa, a detailed engineering, and design package for a diamond project in sub-Saharan Africa and some engineering support work with its colleagues on an infrastructure project in Europe. Anderson says Amec Foster Wheeler’s experience in the African mining industry has been positive, as the company has been able to draw on its success from various projects across the region. Amec Foster Wheeler has built on this when undertaking new projects and will continue to leverage these as Wood following the merger.