Continuing sustainable growth
In the words of Mike Smith, Business Unit Managing Director of Stefanutti Stocks Mining Services, becoming part of the Stefanutti Stocks Group was a relatively easy transition on all fronts.  The company formerly known as ECMP, which Smith co-founded with his late partner, John Robbertze, back in 1991, now makes up the Mining Services Business Unit within the Stefanutti Stocks Group—one of the group’s numerous diverse and expanding business units.

“ECMP was self-financed and that’s always difficult—you can grow at a reasonable pace, but it’s not sustainable unless, especially in contract mining, you have backing, because it’s very capital intensive,” Smith recalls.

“It proved to be the right decision to sell the company to a like-minded big group which subsequently listed on the stocks exchange and are now one of the top six construction companies in South Africa,” he adds.

Bridging expectations

Articles and news releases documented ECMP’s arrival within the Stefanutti Stocks fold around March 2007, but the real story is how this business unit has grown since that time. In continuing ECMP’s dedicated and highly reputable work within the mining industry, it has now, within the Stefanutti Stocks Group, added to its services, geographical footprint and general capabilities.  Stefanutti Stocks Mining Services today encapsulates the group-wide motto: “united in bridging our expectations.”

“I think before listing there was a strategic feeling that the group should also have other specialities on their menu, and mining services was something that they were interested in.  It’s a logical add-on, because we are civil and mining engineering disciplined,” he explains.

“I think that puts the company in good stead because often if the market is tight in one particular sector, you have good opportunities elsewhere.”

Divisions & Projects

Stefanutti Stocks Mining Services now operates through four distinct divisions—Design and Construction, Tailings Operations, Material Handling and Contract Mining. The Design and Construction Division is mainly concerned with the design and construction of tailings and related facilities, but can handle general civils and earthworks as well. As its name suggests, it can offer a total turnkey solution to mine owners where it takes responsibility for designing a facility and then executing the construction, but it will frequently act purely as the construction contractor in the traditional tender process. The division has carried out some notable contracts over the past several years, including: tailings dams at Nkomati Nickel, Finsch’s Brits tailings disposal facility and, perhaps most impressively, the paste disposal facility at Assmang’s Khumani Mine. This encompassed both the design and construction of the tailings dam, return water dam and thickener terrace, as well as all the civil, mechanical and electrical works for the construction of the two 18m diameter past thickeners. It is currently operating both the thickener plant and the tailings dam.

Comments Smith: “We can claim to be the pioneers of paste disposal in this country as we have been closely involved with three of the four installations so far completed—at Khumani, at De Beers’ Combined Treatment Plant (CTP) in Kimberly and at the Voorspoed mine in the northern Free State, also a De Beers project. The CTP plant was in fact the first paste facility to be completed in South Africa. In dry areas such as the Northern Cape, the technology allows significant water savings—70 per cent in the case of Khumani. It is also considered to be environmentally-friendly compared to more conventional tailings disposal methods.”

The Tailings Operations division works very closely with Design and Construction, often taking on the operation of the facilities constructed by its sister division. This was the case on Khumani, where there was a seamless progression from design through construction to operation, and also at Finsch. The Tailings Operations division—which brands itself as a ‘mine residue management specialist’—not only operates tailings facilities, but is also engaged in the hydraulic reclamation of mine residues and in mine closure and rehabilitation. The division is also involved in the environmental clean-up of water courses polluted with coal fine slurry in the Mpumalanga area.

The Material Handling division is a fairly recent addition to the Stefanutti Stocks Mining Services lineup. “Apart from reclaiming coal discard, this division carries out coal plant and terrace activities, crushing and screening, product loading, dump reclamation, coal slurry and discard disposal and final dump rehabilitation.  At this stage, it is entirely focused on the coal mining industry.”

Contract mining

Completing the divisional lineup is Contract Mining. Apart from opencast mining (in both coal and hard rock), this divisions strengths include mine planning, drilling and blasting, crushing and screening, environmental rehabilitation and the construction of civil works related to opencast mining, such as haul roads, bypass roads, stormwater berms and trenches and pollution control dams. The division operates a mining fleet consisting mainly of 65-t payload rigid dump trucks and 95-t to 120-t excavators.

Stefanutti Stocks has great ambitions for Contract Mining, which it sees as having major growth potential. The company is prepared to provide it with the backing to expand its operation within prudent investment and capital expenditure boundaries and taking into account top and bottom line benefits.

Making sustainable growth happen

In terms of its BEE credentials, safety record and QA compliance, Stefanutti Stocks Mining Services scores well. It has a BBBEE status of Level 4, a Disabling Injury Frequency Rate (DIFR) of 0,20 (representing a rolling average for the last 12 months), has well over a million hours without a disabling injury under its belt (at the time of writing) and is on course to achieve ISO9001 accreditation by May this year.  “We’re proud of our record in these areas and intend improving still further,” says Smith.

The most exciting aspect of the business unit today is what will happen next and how this division reflects the parent group’s resounding attention to advancing its individual businesses— and valuing the people in place to make sustainable growth happen.