"Buoyant commodity prices have certainly boosted the mining sector in West Africa, leading to better demand for technical studies, audits, reviews and other work that SRK offers."
What was the leading factor behind SRK’s growth in West Africa in recent years?
SRK has been involved in projects in West Africa for many decades, and through a number of our global practices. Opening our Ghana office in Accra 10 years ago consolidated our footprint in the region even further and drew in more local expertise and experienced professionals from West Africa. By building capacity in that office and continuing to draw on specialists from our international network, we have established a sound reputation in the region.
Our Accra base places us closer to clients and allows us to travel quickly and cost-effectively to mines in the region, whenever required. Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, this has proved especially useful, as we have been able to overcome much of the disruption in international travel.
Can you elaborate on the demand trends you are witnessing in the market?
Buoyant commodity prices have certainly boosted the mining sector in West Africa, leading to better demand for technical studies, audits, reviews and other work that SRK offers. This has applied to mines wanting to raise production levels, as well as greater interest in exploration.
Investor appetite in the West African region is tempered by volatile political and security conditions in some countries; however, risk management is a strong feature of the mining sector, allowing most risks to be effectively mitigated.
As the industry heads towards the promotion of greener mining techniques, how is SRK capitalizing on this trend?
SRK has a depth of experience in ESG disciplines, and also in applying this expertise to the mining context. We have been able to add particular value through our integrated approach, where issues of environmental compliance and best practice are dealt with alongside the necessary range of engineering and other technical considerations.
With our highly experienced ESG teams in South Africa and the UK, we expect that we will continue to expand our ESG-related input to mining companies operating in West Africa. Mines are aiming for greater shared value from mining among all stakeholders, and local companies must play a greater role in the sector. We are also seriously considering providing local ESG services from our Ghana practice.
How would you characterize the current health of the Ghanaian mining industry?
Ghana boasts a mature mining sector, with many of the large exploration targets having been well explored and mined. There is now scope for companies that are geared towards exploring and exploiting smaller footprints. Junior players often lack the expertise and resources to conduct their own exploration programs, creating an opportunity for companies like SRK to collaborate. These juniors need thorough studies that will deliver high-quality data on resources and reserves on which to base their finance-raising efforts. The challenge posed by illegal mining is not only of primary concern to investors, but its immediate impact on the environment (especially the pollution of water bodies) has been devastating. Lithium deposits in Ghana’s Central Region are attracting attention from investors, where there is on-going reconnaissance and exploration work – with some studies at pre-feasibility phase. SRK Ghana is currently involved in some aspects of these studies.
What is SRK Consulting’s strategy in Ghana and more broadly in West Africa to consolidate and grow its market share?
Looking ahead, SRK will continue to build our local capacity in Ghana and West Africa in partnership with associate consultants in the region and our collaboration with the global network of SRK practices, particularly those in China, South Africa and the UK. Expanding our local service offerings is a stated objective of the company and the addition of ESG services to the Ghanaian practice, a priority. We also remain committed to transferring skills into the local market and nurturing junior engineers and scientists. We are well placed to do this through our depth of experience across a range of mining-related disciplines, which makes it possible to ensure the vital combination of global technical standards with local knowledge and insights. Central to our strategy is our quality and integrity, so that clients can rely on findings and recommendations when managing the various risks inherent in exploration and mining projects and operations.