The future of Africa’s mining industry holds more promise than that of any other continent. The critical key factor to ensure its success is the establishment and development of the necessary infrastructure to support the sector, writes Laura Cornish.

Mining engineers TWP Projects’ infrastructure division, TWP Infrastructure, is bullish about the infrastructure opportunities in Africa. So much so, that despite its slow emergence into the sector, it is now anticipating the imminent award of a significant logistics infrastructure project.

Officially established in October 2010, TWP Infrastructure’s mandate is to source, tender and secure any infrastructure-related engineering project work across the African continent.

“This includes product import and export projects, all transportation and logistics (both rail and road), buildings, housing, bulk services, acid mine drainage and wastewater treatment projects, materials handling and port projects,” says general manager Ian Pinnock.

And while Pinnock aims to lessen the division’s dependence on the mining precinct entirely, to include public-private and government works, its connection to the mining industry via its parent companies (TWP Projects and Basil Read) means it will always remain close to the sector.

“What differentiates us in such a globally competitive market lies in our company roots, which enable us to offer clients a full engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) service suite,” Pinnock continues. This will also help alleviate the severe skills shortage crisis the world is currently experiencing.

While the company has celebrated the award of workshop and housing ventures since its inception, it remains heavily focused on large-scale pit-to-port project work.

“We have numerous tenders out at present for transport and logistics infrastructure projects in the Northern Cape, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mozambique. One of these projects looks promising, and we anticipate its award in the nearby future,” Pinnock reveals.

To strengthen its service capabilities and offerings further, the division is looking at 3D construction modelling aimed at assisting construction companies to visualise and understand the dynamics and project elements of a building throughout the construction phase. This will decrease the chance for construction errors, and should improve on-site safety as well.

“We have also adopted a strategic focus on establishing rail expertise initiatives within the company, which will bring an immediate improvement to our in-house capabilities,” Pinnock continues.

And while TWP Infrastructure’s staff complement will grow as its project portfolio does, it can out-source project work to India to increase its capacity quickly if necessary.

Project work to date

TWP Infrastructure recently celebrated the completion of a large bucket and bowl workshop facility for Kumba Iron Ore’s Sishen mine in the Northern Cape. The workshop will be used as an interim maintenance facility for the mine’s fleet of heavy haulage vehicles and thereafter for maintaining the buckets and bodies.

“We have also been awarded the development of the permanent ‘life-of-mine’ workshop facility for the mine,” Pinnock adds.

TWP is involved in the ongoing housing project at Kathu, which TWP became involved with in February 2011, and continues to be the EPCM contractor for Lakutshona housing development, management house development, boarding houses and hostel refurbishment projects.

For this project, TWP Infrastructure is responsible for the EPCM construction management of the installation of the bulk services as well as the construction of the houses. The project is due for completion in 2014.

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