By Lee-Ann Collingridge and Mbali Mokoena
TRAILBLAZING mining services provider Sedibelo Kgabo Mining (SKM) has taken delivery of three additional Sandvik DI650i drill rigs, doubling its capacity and positioning it to become the dominant production drilling operator at mid-tier producer Pilanesberg Platinum Mines (PPM)’s East Pit operation.
The new rigs, purchased from Sandvik South Africa, means that the mining company based in the village of Lesethleng, in the North-West, will have the capacity to drill in excess of 60 000 metres a month.
SKM is tearing up conventional wisdom on broad-based empowerment in technical and capital intensive sectors of the mining industry, demonstrating that not only can local procurement work but that communities don’t need to be left out of the proceeds.
“Production drilling is the first and most critical step in open pit mining, the drill holes have to be drilled to the correct depth and inclination. They have to be ready in time for the mine to charge and blast, so poor performance by drillers can adversely impact mine planning,” says Khuli Matshego, Managing Director of SKM.
“Since starting operations, we have focussed on delivering high-quality drill holes to PPM. Our rejection rate is less than 3%. Our drill rigs are well maintained by our team of mechanics and Sandvik to achieve an 85% availability. We’re getting excellent penetration rates drilling rocks within the Bushveld Igneous Complex which are hard, because we’ve selected the best technology and people.”
SKM – which has a significant shareholding by the Bakgatla ba Kgafela community – was founded by local brothers Tshiamo and Kgolagano “Khuli” Matshego, and 75 percent of the company’s 96-strong workforce is drawn from the Bakgatla Ba Kgafela doorstep communities. A quarter of the employees are women, several of whom are in production supervisory roles. Experienced female drill rig operators, and mechanics are few and far between so the company is developing its own training programme for local young women.
Sweden-based manufacturing and machinery solutions provider Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions funded the company’s first three rigs, which have been operating since December 2021.
The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has funded the purchase of the new rigs, which the company took delivery of late last week.
“We are grateful to Sandvik and the IDC for their belief in us and our dream,” says Khuli Matshego. “We believe that local companies can compete for any of the work on the mines, technical and capital challenges can be overcome, despite all the negative perceptions as well as the seemingly-overwhelming evidence to the contrary. And we are delighted that we have been able to prove to all the doubters that broad-based empowerment in the mining industry can work.”
Matshego says they are even more delighted that SKM is proving local communities can benefit from more than just the proceeds from the sale of their mining rights.
“We hope to see the barriers to entry on all mining services come down, and we’re encouraging other community-based companies to professionalise their operations and bid for work. Most of our employees come from the local community, and they are proving daily that they can meet the challenges of operating at the highest levels,” he says.
“We are delighted that we are proving detractors wrong; not because it means that we are profiting, but because it means our mother and father, our sisters and brothers, our cousins and friends are continually profiting from an asset that belongs to them. The Bakgatla are not only reaping the rewards from selling our mining rights; we are also demonstrating how local procurement can benefit a doorstep community. This is broad-based empowerment at its finest,” Matshego adds.
Says Reginald Demana, the Divisional Executive for Mining, Metals, Infrastructure & Energy at the IDC: “The IDC is committed to facilitating the meaningful participation of Black Industrialists and local communities in the mining industry. This partnership with SKM and Sandvik is a prime example of how great collaboration can benefit, not only deserving entrepreneurs but the communities in which those businesses operate.”says Tommy Motau, Director – Sandvik Financial Services: “The first three drill rigs were financed by Sandvik through its captive finance business providing the best in class financial solutions to purchasers of Sandvik mining equipment. The transaction was enabled by the participation of the Swedish Export Credit Agency “EKN” who came in to underwrite the transaction specific risks on behalf of Sandvik.
“The SKM transaction aligns fully with our strategic objectives to increase our participation in the PGMs sectors in South Africa with focus on environmental sustainability and advanced technological innovations of the equipment we manufacture. We appreciate the economic impacts the transaction is having in terms of sustainable jobs creation in the area and long-term contributions to the national tax base.”
For more information contact, Lee-Ann Collingridge at email@example.com or 072 125 2826 or Mbali Mokoena at firstname.lastname@example.org or 079 434 4661