Opencast contractor Diesel Power Opencast Mining has taken major business steps forward this year, which has uplifted its industry status and ensured its targets for growth are well within reach.

Step 1
Diesel Power is fully committed to the advancement of broad-based black economic empowerment in the mining sector. Transformation and partnering with appropriate BEE shareholders is critical to our ability to continue building our business and has become a fundamental requirement in order to conduct business in the industries that the company services. With that in mind, our holding group has concluded a BEE transaction, which see us now compliant with South Africa’s codes of good practice and the mining charter requirements,” says Diesel Power‘s executive chairman, Terry Bantock.

Strategically, the BEE transaction, coupled with significant progress made in all other transformation categories, provides Diesel Power with a new dimension, improving its rating from a Level 8 to Level 4. As part of the deal, the company welcomed Jackie Mathebula to the company as executive director and shareholder. He brings a wealth of industry relevant knowledge to the company, through his BEE consortium.

The combination of Diesel Power’s expertise and skill, coupled with its Level 4 BEE status, has strategically placed it in the best position possible to navigate through South Africa’s challenging economic climate with particular concerns relating to mining labour environment. The company has recently secured a five-year wage agreement with its recognised union in order to mitigate against labour unrest

Step 2

Diesel Power Opencast Mining is well cemented in the South African coal industry and boasts an excellent safety track record. It has nine mining contracts at present and continues to work with all blue chip majors, including Exxaro, Anglo American Thermal Coal, Xstrata Coal South Africa, Sasol and HCI Khusela Coal.

“We are focusing on diversifying our portfolio, outside of coal and outside of South Africa,” Bantock points out. According to Mining IQ, there are 440 surface mining projects in either grassroot or pre-feasibility stages on the African continent   – a good indication of the mid-to-long-term mining opportunities. Immediate, short-term opportunities are up for the taking as well; however, and Diesel Power has proven this to be true.

Earlier this year, the company was awarded its first African opencast mining contract for Exxaro’s new iron ore project – Mayoko – situated in the Republic of Congo. Mathebula believes the company’s entrance into Africa is exciting albeit in a tough operating environment. “We want to be a part of Africa’s mining evolution and development boom and feel the best route to achieve this successfully is working with and following our current clients into new African territories. Working alongside Exxaro will ensure we operate at the highest standards, enabling us to develop a model or blueprint for operating in Africa, which we intend to perfect and replicate.”

Mayoko is a great project for us, and allows us to set a high standard from the start and move forward with a solid track record. The first tranche of the Exxaro owned fleet is already on-site and operating. Our operators have already undergone simulator training, and we have overcome regulatory logistical and language barriers,” Bantock continues.

Following its clients into Africa does not mean Diesel Power will restrict itself to its existing client base. “We will evaluate companies already entrenched in their respective regions and we will also look at junior and mid-tier sized companies with viable projects within our capital constraints and risk framework,” Bantock notes.

A third step – as well

The Diesel Power Group believes it can offer mining clients a broader, more value-add service in context of its entire service offering. “In addition to mining, we have sound experience in earthwork and civils development as well as rehabilitation (which requires extensive earthmoving). In essence, this is a cradle to grave service, which reduces project risk while providing financial rewards,” Mathebula outlines.

Invested in its fleet

Bantock believes one of the reasons behind the company’s success is its commitment and investment in leading brand equipment, which it continues to grow annually. “The age of our fleet is equally as important. Over 50% of our fleet has been used for less than 10 000 hours and  98% has less than 20 000 hours,” Bantock states. “Looking after our assets is fundamental to our business – reliability and consistency, which leads to optimal production performance and ultimately sound customer service.”