"Resource companies are outpacing governments in terms of their quick adoption of greener solutions, especially as lower-carbon sources are starting to make more economic sense."
Lycopodium is 30 years old. Could you introduce the company to our audience?
Lycopodium is an ASX-listed global engineering and project delivery organisation, currently with approximately 700 employees. Our head office is in Perth, Western Australia and we also have offices in Brisbane, Newcastle and Melbourne, as well as international offices in Toronto, Cape Town, Manila and Accra. We work across the resources, infrastructure and industrial processes sectors, but approximately 85% of our revenues come from mineral resources. We are present in 14 African countries. Our West African HQ is in Ghana, but we are also active in Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Mali.
How has Lycopodium contributed to the fight against the pandemic?
We are proud to have used our engineering expertise to design and manufacture an electrically operated, portable ventilator, called LycoVent, in response to the critical ventilator shortage. Based on a concept developed by MIT in 2010 and developed locally in Perth, the electrically operated ventilator is independent of piped oxygen supply, delivering breaths by compressing a conventional resuscitator bag with a pivoting cam arm, eliminating the need for a human operator. In July 2021, LycoVent successfully achieved its Export Only Listing, for use outside of Australia, from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). In partnership with Australian Doctors for Africa (ADFA), we intend to make LycoVent available to African hospitals where the need for such a device is considered significant, not only in response to COVID but more broadly to supplement the limited healthcare options available.
Could you share some recent examples of your work in West Africa?
Lycopodium has worked with most of West Africa’s producers, from Endeavour to Perseus and Newmont. Our relationship with Newmont goes back to 2003 when we studied the early execution of Ahafo South and the Akyem gold mine project, and most recently, we are honoured to have been awarded the contract to provide EPCM services for the large-scale Ahafo North project in Ghana. In Burkina Faso we won the EPCM contract for Orezone’s Bomboré gold project, while in Ivory Coast we are delivering the Séguéla project for Fortuna Silver Mines, and in Senegal we are continuing to support IAMGOLD’s Boto gold project. Renowned for our expertise in precious and base metals studies and projects, our vast capability extends to diamonds, iron ore, battery metals and industrial minerals. We are currently undertaking the DFS update for the Goulamina lithium project in Mali and working with the Grande Côte mineral sands operation in Senegal.
Many West African countries are strengthening local content laws. How do companies like Lycopodium contribute to the skills transfer necessary in the region?
Local content legislation can be challenging to implement but also very warranted. It’s incumbent on all of us to build local capacity, not just because this is the right thing to do, or because this is the way to improve people’s lives in a tangible way, but because travel restrictions have severely hindered foreign recruitment creating a talent shortage. The talent pool for engineers, construction managers and the like is tightening, a trend exacerbated by the pandemic.
Lycopodium runs development and learning programs premised on know-how transfers that empower locals to become leaders and knowledge-holders in their own right.
How does Lycopodium differentiate in the market?
Lycopodium has 28 years of experience in Africa and a track record of world-class project delivery in both EPC and EPCM contracting models. We apply the same standards of quality, the same meticulous safety precautions, and careful environmental management whether we are in Ghana, Canada, or Australia. While the contract is different, our standards stay the same. Just in the last five years, we have managed over 20 million manhours and only incurred one Lost Time Injury (LTI), without serious injury. We also bring new innovations – for example the development of the Dry Mining Unit (DMU), a solution that will be implemented at the Grande Côte mineral sands operation.
How has your mineral resource business performed in the last year?
The current resources upcycle has been driving significant business growth, especially coming from the gold market but also from other commodities. We see many emerging West African projects in battery minerals, fertilizers, mineral sands or gold that are being reviewed and reassessed. As a trend, the energy transformation is gathering more pace in the mining sector. Resource companies are outpacing governments in terms of their quick adoption of greener solutions, especially as lower-carbon sources are starting to make more economic sense.
Do you have a final message for our international audience?
To preserve independence as a 30 year old company is one of our greatest milestones. In some regards, we are a relatively large engineering firm, but in others, we remain a very flexible and bespoke firm. At the heart, we are engineers first and we stay a technically-led business. We do not underrate our competitors, but in this competitive market, our guiding principle is simple: As long as we continue to deliver good outcomes for our clients, they will keep coming back to us.