The mining sector on the African continent

With an HR Consultant who has twenty years of professional experience
acquired in management positions in the mining industry, Phénicia
Conseil provides its clients with effective support in the search for talent
adapted to the functions dedicated to the mining sector.

Presentation of the sector

In the mining sector, the restrictions imposed by governments to prevent the spread of the virus have shaken up the markets and changed the habits of many economic players. However, in Africa, the consequences of the coronavirus on mining activity are not the only ones to be remembered.

 

Gold’s historic rise:

While most commodities have seen their prices fall with the global economic situation, gold began a real rally in January. While tensions between Iran and the United States after the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani helped start the trend, the Covid-19 pandemic was the main cause.

Good performances in prospect for the companies specialized in gold:

While most commodities have seen their prices fall with the global economic situation, gold began a real rally in January. While tensions between Iran and the United States after the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani helped start the trend, the Covid-19 pandemic was the main cause.

 

In crisis, the diamond industry is on the way to reinventing itself

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, gold was the only commodity with a rising price. Some commodities, such as diamonds, have even seen their market deeply shaken by the health crisis. The restrictions reduced global demand for gems and jewellery from consumers who were stranded at home, resulting in a sharp drop in global demand. For example, Indian rough diamond imports plunged from $1.5 billion in February to just $1 million in April, according to data from the Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council. The crisis came to a head when the two largest producers in the market (De Beers and Alrosa) significantly discounted the prices of stones offered for sale.

Usually confined to its “traditional physical auctions, the industry had to reinvent itself, “modernize” to quote Eira Thomas, CEO of Lucara Diamond, a company active on the large Karowe mine in Botswana.

Some producers have tried to bring their products closer to their customers, while others have made direct agreements with cutting and polishing companies.

 

West Africa: Endeavour on the verge of becoming a top 10 gold producer:

2020 has been the year of Endeavour Mining in many ways. The Canadian company’s dreams of grandeur have kept the gold industry on its toes throughout the year. Active on several gold projects in West Africa, the company first tried to merge with Centamin, the company operating Egypt’s only gold mine. However, negotiations failed in

February, prompting Endeavour to look for other targets in the market.

Endeavour Mining illustrates the dynamism of the African mining sector:

It set its sights on Semafo, another Canadian company, with which it entered into a merger agreement worth C$1 billion. The deal, which was finalized a few months later, created a company that was one of the world’s top 15 gold producers and the No. 1 in West Africa. Not enough to satisfy the appetite of this new gold giant and its CEO Sébastien de Montessus, who in November negotiated the purchase of Teranga Gold, owner of the Wahgnion gold mine (Burkina Faso) and the

Sabodala-Massawa gold complex in Senegal. If the deal is completed this year, it would make Endeavour one of the world’s top ten gold producers.

 

In Guinea, the time for the development of the Simandou iron project seems to have come:

Considered as an old sea serpent by many observers, but also by Guinean citizens, the development of the four blocks of the Simandou iron project registered a decisive advance in 2020. After more than 20 years of procrastination marked by corruption cases, a tender organised to award blocks 1 and 2 was won by the SMB-Winning consortium.

The company, which has already prov n itself in the bauxite sector, concluded an agreement with the State in June for the exploitation of the blocks. It wants to invest no less than $15 billion to build a 650 km railway (the Transguinéen) to transport the ore, and a deep water port on the Guinean coast in the province of Matakang to export the production. With this project, which is scheduled to come on stream in 2025, Guinea is poised to shake up the world hierarchy of iron producers.

 

Electric vehicles boom: Africa moves to harness its critical minerals

Considered as an old sea serpent by many observers, but also by Guinean citizens, the development of the four blocks of the Simandou iron project registered a decisive advance in 2020. After more than 20 years of procrastination marked by corruption cases, a tender organised to award blocks 1 and 2 was won by the SMB-Winning consortium.

The company, which has already prov n itself in the bauxite sector, concluded an agreement with the State in June for the exploitation of the blocks. It wants to invest no less than $15 billion to build a 650 km railway (the Transguinéen) to transport the ore, and a deep water port on the Guinean coast in the province of Matakang to export the production. With this project, which is scheduled to come on stream in 2025, Guinea is poised to shake up the world hierarchy of iron producers.

 

The Goulamina project in Mali :

Firefinch released a feasibility study in October showing that the Goulamina project can deliver close to 450,000 t/y of lithium concentrate with multi-billion dollar revenues. Developments on these projects, as well as on other future critical mineral mines in Africa, will be closely monitored.

The race for an alternative to Chinese production of rare earths has led to a renewed interest in these resources in Africa. Companies such as Pensana (in Angola), Altona Energy (in Malawi) and Oro Verde (in

Namibia) have made significant progress on their projects.

As an indicator of global economic health, copper has been through all states during the year. After more than 10 months of suffering from the pandemic and the resulting drop in demand, copper began its recovery at the end of November to reach $7,700 per tonne, its best performance since 2013.

In addition, a new gold mine in Côte d’Ivoire, the Yaouré mine operated by Perseus Mining, came into production. And in Egypt, government reforms to attract more mining investment have resulted in the granting of a gold mining licence to Aton, the first in 15 years, and the allocation of

 

no less than 82 exploration blocks. A n w wind is blowing through the country’s mining sector.

In 2021, we will have to watch how the price of gold evolves. With the various vaccines announced and the campaigns already underway in most industrialized countries, analysts expect to see the yellow metal decline, but to what level? More generally, apart from supply and demand issues, the evolution of mining commodity prices will depend in part on the evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Kakula copper project in the DRC:

Firefinch released a feasibility study in October showing that the Goulamina project can deliver close to 450,000 t/y of lithium concentrate with multi-billion dollar revenues. Developments on these projects, as well as on other future critical mineral mines in Africa, will be closely monitored.

The race for an alternative to Chinese production of rare earths has led to a renewed interest in these resources in Africa. Companies such as Pensana (in Angola), Altona Energy (in Malawi) and Oro Verde (in

Namibia) have made significant progress on their projects.

As an indicator of global economic health, copper has been through all states during the year. After more than 10 months of suffering from the pandemic and the resulting drop in demand, copper began its recovery at the end of November to reach $7,700 per tonne, its best performance since 2013.

In addition, a new gold mine in Côte d’Ivoire, the Yaouré mine operated by Perseus Mining, came into production. And in Egypt, government reforms to attract more mining investment have resulted in the granting of a gold mining licence to Aton, the first in 15 years, and the allocation of

 

no less than 82 exploration blocks. A n w wind is blowing through the country’s mining sector.

In 2021, we will have to watch how the price of gold evolves. With the various vaccines announced and the campaigns already underway in most industrialized countries, analysts expect to see the yellow metal decline, but to what level? More generally, apart from supply and demand issues, the evolution of mining commodity prices will depend in part on the evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jobs, training and diplomas:

 

Driller-blaster

Driller-blasters measure and determine the locations to be drilled. They
carry out the various drilling operations in open-pit mines or quarries
according to the plans drawn up by the engineer. They operate various
types of machines such as manual, pneumatic and hydraulic drills. They
connect electric cables, primers or detonating cords in series and
connect them to blasting caps. They then conduct field tests to determine
the type and quantity of explosives required. They also load the
explosives into blasting holes and fire charges to dislodge the rock. They
inspect blasting areas and perform maintenance and minor repairs on
the drills they use.

Education and qualifications:

The practice of the profession is somewhat different depending on the
sector of activity and the basic knowledge is in the field of mechanics or
hydraulics, civil engineering, construction, geology.
From the CAP to BTS levels, employers provide additional training
related to the operation of drilling machines in compliance with the
instructions of drilling diagrams and plans. Knowledge in the field of soils
must also be acquired.
Some CAP, BAC pro and BTS in the construction industry can be the
starting point for training.

 

Mining Engineer:

Mining engineers perform many tasks related to the planning, design,
organization and supervision of mine development and mining facilities.
They design 3D plans for drifts, tunnels or pits, check the facilities
regularly, plan mining sequences and analyze optimization projects.
Generally, they prepare and supervise the extraction of ore, but they may
develop expertise in a specific field, such as mine planning, ground
control or rock mechanics, and perform more specialized tasks. They
determine safe and efficient methods of mining deposits and appropriate
drilling and blasting methods for the construction or operation of a mine.
They plan and design or select mining and milling machinery and
supervise the development of mines and mine structures and their
operation and maintenance.

 

Education and qualifications:

Bac S or STI2D, plus training at bac+5 level The royal route: the 6 écoles
des Mines (Paris, Alès, Albi, ENSTA Bretagne, Nantes, Douai), which
recruit for 3 years of study on the basis of a joint Mines-Pont competitive
examination, after a scientific preparatory class.
They can also be entered through parallel admission at Bac +2, after a
scientific L2, a BTS (plus an ATS preparatory class) or a DUT, as well as
through admission on the basis of qualifications in the 2nd year after a
scientific M1.

 

Geological engineer :

Geological engineers conduct geological and geotechnical studies,
particularly in all phases of mine project evaluation and development.
They plan, design, test and supervise programs of geological analysis
and data collection, interpret and compile the information collected, and
prepare geological engineering reports and recommendations. They
plan, develop and coordinate experimental and feasibility studies on ore
deposits, ore reserve calculations and mine design, identify opportunities
and supervise mineral grade monitoring activities for planning and
improvement. They work with and supervise technologists, technicians
and other engineers and scientists.

 

Education and qualifications:

– A bachelor’s degree in geological engineering or in a related
engineering discipline is required.
– A PhD or Master’s degree in a related engineering discipline may be
required.

 

Industrial mechanic:

Industrial Millwrights are responsible for the proper functioning of various
infrastructure used in the operation of a mine that typically operates 24
hours a day, every day. For example, the hoist, conveyors and
concentrator are infrastructures that must be continuously in production
and functional. They have the knowledge and expertise to ensure that
this infrastructure is compliant and maintained to the highest standards.
They inspect and examine the many pieces of stationary equipment such
as pumps, fans and generators throughout the mine facilities for signs of
wear and tear or malfunction, and then schedule repairs or preventative
maintenance to avoid future breakdowns. Their extensive professional
capabilities allow them to service vacuum, hydraulic and pneumatic
power transmission systems.

Education and qualifications

This job is accessible with a diploma of professional Bac to Bac+2 (BTS, DUT) in maintenance, mechanics, production engineering.
It is also accessible with professional experience in these sectors withouta specific diploma.

Specific qualifications (electricity, welding, nuclear, etc.) may be required.One or more Certificat(s) d’Aptitude à la Conduite En Sécurité (CACES),conditioned by a medical aptitude to be renewed periodically, may berequired.

 

Metallurgical engineer:

Other titles: Metallurgical engineer, process engineer, chemical engineer, etc.
Metallurgists conduct studies on the properties and characteristics of
metals and ores and plan, design and test machinery and processes to
concentrate, mine, refine and process metals, alloys and other materials.
They are responsible for optimizing ore processing, concentrator,
tonnage and recovery to ensure profitability. They ensure that production, metallurgical performance, operational costs, health and safety and environmental objectives are met. They assess the viability and feasibility of proposed solutions and programs and provide reports, budgets and recommendations. They participate in sampling campaigns to characterize process equipment. They analyze the results and verify their validity and quality. They supervise and work in collaboration with
metallurgical technicians.

Education and qualifications:

Bac + 5: engineering degree in materials or master’s degree in
science and engineering, chemistry and materials science…

 

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