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East and Central Africa Mining Forum: “African based EPCM to support junior mining start-ups” (Alain Kabemba)

Exclusive interview with Alain Kabemba, Executive Projects Director, SIMEKA Infrastructure and Services (SIS), South Africa. Simeka is a silver sponsor at the upcoming East & Central Africa Mining Forum and during a conference session on “Creating a conducive environment to attract Foreign Direct Investments FDIs”, Mr Kabemba is a featured speaker on “African based EPCM to support junior mining start-ups”.

Let’s start with some background about Simeka Infrastructure and Services (Pty) Ltd.Simeka Infrastructure and Services (Pty) Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Simeka Capital Holdings (Pty) Ltd. The strategic imperative of SIS is to ensure that our leading edge approach to mining and minerals services, infrastructure development, logistics management (Road and Rail), strategic support services  and project execution systems assists in ensuring the success of your project throughout its value chain, from concept to commissioning.

What does your role entail?
As the Executive Projects Director, I am responsible for project management of the team that directly oversees, monitors and manages short- and long-term mining and minerals projects. I ensure that strategic development and project goals, monitoring of the portfolio are met and that project performance in the mining, mineral and infrastructure services are carried out efficiently.

Are here any specific projects in the mining sector that your company is involved in currently that you are particularly excited about at the moment?
SIS is the main process engineering “house“ for two main principal mining projects in South Africa, namely:

• Vanchem-Vanadium, 
• Springlake (Coal Processing Plant design – complete turnkey project) 

We are also busy developing a Centre of Excellence (CoE) to curb risks that come with outsourced contractor mining services. 


Caption: Geluk Mine Block Plan 


Caption: Springlake Overall Mine Plan

Tell us more about your business interests in the East & Central African regions. And in Africa at large?
SIS understands that providing mining and minerals services is a long-term process and would like to share its expertise in the development (from conceptual design to commissioning) and management of mine operations, including bringing new operations into full production. 

How important is sustainability, responsible mining and eco-friendly practices on the ground for the company?
Sustainable mining is important to conserve the environment and ensure that the eco-system is preserved. 

How excited are you about the mining opportunities in Rwanda and the East and Central African region?
The mining industry, especially in Central Africa, is currently facing several challenges as new orebodies with an ever-increasing geological uncertainty, are found. These present challenges to both mining and mineral processing. The question of how the complex orebodies and their geological variabilities influence on the mine planning, the beneficiation processes, and operation outputs in terms of mineral recovery, grade and the mine economics, remains a focus for SIS. 

What advice would you give a prospective investor in this sector in the region?
According to the World Bank, Rwanda’s rank in terms of conducting business score improved from 41 in 2017 to 29 out of 190 in 2018. This improvement sets a tone and provides opportunities for conducting business in the country and the possibilities to share with the region’s locals SIS mining expertise in terms of process engineering and mining services. There is great potential to discover more mineral resources in this region.  

What is your vision for mining in East Africa?
SIS seeks opportunities in the infrastructure development and industrial projects, and to be one of the largest infrastructure development, logistics and mining services companies by 2025. 

Why the decision to partner with the East & Central Africa Mining Forum in October?
SIS would like to increase its footprint into the East and Central Africa, as such this Mining Forum is a great platform. The networking in the Mining Forum will help SIS to establish a footprint in the region and form relationships with potential business partners.

What will be your message at the event?
The idea is that many African Junior mining companies are unable to use the service of international major EPCM companies for two mains reasons:  

• The Financial Aspects – No strong investment backing to support their project lifecycle. These companies, from an investor perspective, are seen as high-risk projects and would be unable to yield desired returns to get to the bankable stage.
• Not Enough Resources (Human Capital ) – To comply with the complexity of the mining policy.

The message from SIS will be:

a. Explain the challenges faced by emerging miners (Junior Miners), supported by empirical evidence based on reports on the sector, documented workshops and seminars and evidence from industry experts. 

b. Share strategies developed by SIS which have proved to be effective and to alleviate challenges faced by projects to get a fast but stable start-up.

What are you most looking forward to in Kigali in October?
Networking with different mining professionals.


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