Multidisciplinary construction firm Liviero’s growth strategy was enabled when group CEO Neil Cloete joined the company in March 2011, allowing the company to expand its presence in the mining sector. And it successfully has, writes Laura Cornish.

August 2013 represents a major milestone in Liviero’s history: 30 years of successful business as the biggest privately owned multidisciplinary contractor in South Africa – employing about 2 000 people. It also represents the company’s successful entrance into the opencast mining arena, having  completed its first contract mining year at Keaton Energy’s Delmas-based Vanggatfontein coal mine, to much acclaim.

Mining kick-off

“A large contributing factor to our successful entrance into opencast mining is our plant hire business, which has been providing heavy plant and equipment into the sector for years. Not only did it provide us with the necessary experience, but it guaranteed a high production, low-cost operation attributable to the right fleet of equipment, which we continue to achieve,” Cloete outlines.

While the Vanggatfontein contract remains the company’s only mining contract for now, it demonstrates Liviero’s capabilities and dedication to the job, which in essence entails meeting monthly production targets. “Moving 1.5 million bank cubic metres per month is no small feat, but for us it is just the tip of the production iceberg. Our ultimate intention is to move up to 50 million bank cubic metres annually, a goal we consider achievable in the medium term, especially in the wake of pending new contracts. The junior coal sector is vibrant, and we believe there is plenty of opportunity to take on new contracts in this specific area of the mining field, particularly in light of the Medupi and Kusile power stations coming on stream in the next two years,” Cloete reveals.

And while its main focus remains in South Africa, the company is perfectly comfortable evaluating opportunities and taking on new business across border within the SADC region in countries such as Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique. “The intention is to be smart and patient. Mozambique holds ample opportunity for us, but remains severely restricted by infrastructure challenges. Achieving success in Africa is all about evaluating potential, understanding risk and getting the timing right.”

“Ultimately, we have every confidence of becoming a mid-tier opencast mining contractor, focused specifically on coal but open to hard rock mining applications as well.” Nehan Deysel joined Liviero in 2012 as Liviero Mining’s director-in-charge. Deysel is an opencast mining expert, having work previously at Sentula (Scharrighuisen at the time) and MCC, one of the largest opencast mining contractors in Africa.

Liviero may be considered a junior mining contractor, but its fleet is impressive and boasts Liebherr’s largest excavator: a 250 t machine, which is large, even for big multinationals operating in the opencast market. The Vanggatfontein fleet on-site – as new as the contract itself – includes 12 Cat 777 rigid trucks, 100 t class machines recognised for their heavy-duty capabilities and 24 Volvo A40 (40 t payload) ADTs. The majority of its excavators are Liebherrs.

Liviero Plant

Cloete says: “Our policy is to own our plant and equipment, which is valued in excess of R700 million. We associate with worldclass brands, including Cat, Liebherr and Volvo, which we believe is key to ensuring Liviero itself is recognised as an outstanding brand. These are global companies with the highest reputations. Their machines are tested in the global market and they deliver high standards of back-up support.

“We also have a strategic replacement strategy for our fleet, which includes keeping it modern and in line with current trends and demands. Maintaining our fleet properly to ensure it delivers the best production deliverables is, however, equally as important.

It is all about finding the right balance; something we are achieving thanks to Liviero Plant, whose sole responsibility is to manage and maintain our fleet.”

Liviero Building and Civils

The company’s mining exposure and project work extends to every Liviero operating company, including its foundation business units of Liviero Building and Liviero Civils.

“Our civils mining portfolio is also achieving respectable growth levels as our client list ranges from mining juniors to mining majors.”

The company is currently building a largescale water processing plant that will convert Witbank coal mine water into a potable drinking product. This project falls on the back of Liviero’s first entire mining process plant project, which it completed a few years back for platinum junior Platmin’s Pilanesburg project on the Bushveld Complex Western Limb.

“We successfully completed the civil work surface infrastructure for Wesizwe Platinum’s new Bakubung platinum mine, specifically the heavy civils work for the shaft collars and pre-sink requirements. In addition, we have constructed a 24 km overland conveyor, a 12 km access road and various internal civil works (reservoirs, pipework, platforms, etc.) for Sasol Mining’s greenfield Impumelelo coal project,” adds Liviero Civils’s MD, Stuart Knight.

“Ultimately, we want our mining brand and capabilities out there. We now offer the industry a one-stop-shop service through our various business units, from earthworks and civils through to building, mining and even rehabilitation. Unlike some of our competitors, we are small enough to provide our customers with individual attention, but big enough to deliver projects of any scale. We have retained our family business values, which focus on being adaptive, flexible, entrepreneurial, quick on decision-making, safety conscious and less bureaucratic,” Cloete sums up.

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