Zambian project achieves one-million lost-time injury free work hours

Mining and exploration company Group R Mining & Exploration Zambia achieved one-million work hours without a lost-time injury (LTI) at its Synclinorium shaft expansion projectfor its owner, Zambian-registered copper miner Mopani Copper Mines.

Group R is the operating partner of Mauritius-based private capital and corporate advisory company Africa One Holdings (AOH) and is responsible for all ancillary construction and development around the shaft, including the installation of conveyer belts, ventilation and large-scale boxcuts.

AOH CEO John-Ernest Fogwell notes that the company is confident that the project will be completed on time and within budget.

The Synclinorium shaft expansion project involves the construction of a 7-m-diameter main shaft and a 6-m-diameter ventilation shaft to depths of 1 277 m and 1 167 m respectively. The shafts will extend the life of the mine by another 25 years.

Fogwell notes that one-million LTI-free man hours is a “fantastic milestone”, attributing it to Group R employing best practice mechanised mining techniques. “Therefore, we have less staff underground and employ highly skilled staff,” highlights Fogwell.

Group R COO Hein van Staden explains that the company worked closely with its client, Mopani, and is totally committed to its Safework strategy. “This milestone, however, is not an accolade to management, but to our entire workforce, which dedicates its every action to safety.

“A safety achievement, even one like this one, is never the destination – it is merely another step in the journey,” says Group R project manager Nic Claasen, adding that Group R hopes to achieve two-million LTI-free man hours.

AOH notes that, although it gives the company great satisfaction and pride to achieve such milestones, it understands that these should be achieved with humility. One single lapse in judgment or a poor decision can destroy years of great work. Thus, its focus is on the next million hours and not the past achievement.

He adds that Group R’s focus on safety is constant and unwavering and has, therefore, built an enviable safety record for the firm. “This passion for safety is evident. We implement the best international practice and believe in the constant training and development of staff,” Fogwell says, adding that safety is not something that should be managed from the project manager’s office alone.

With new operations starting across Africa, Group R and AOH will remain focused on skills development, safety training and development, and staff management structures to ensure the high quality and safety of its work.

AOH says Africa is slowly embracing a more mechanised approach, especially in light of the growing presence of industry heavyweights, such as multinational commodities trading and mining company Glencore, which demand international standards of work on its mines.

Fogwell believes that a massive opportunity lies in developing Africa’s beneficiation sector. “Africa is rich in natural resources but we are still operating on a mercantile economic plan.”

He says investments should be made to grow the consumption and beneficiation of raw product in the African country of origin and reduce the export of low-cost commodities to the manufacturing sectors of other countries.

Additionally, AOH sees huge opportunity in the development of Africa’s energy sector, specifically the supply of electricity, noting that the continent has an abundance of natural resources that can be leveraged to produce large-scale electricity from renewable sources.

“As a continent, I believe we are yet to embrace our full potential,” concludes Fogwell

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