BVi Group’s strategic business focus to expand into Africa some two and half years ago has been a resounding success. The company is under way with numerous projects across the continent, including its first mega mining infrastructure venture – Exxaro’s Greenfield Mayoko iron ore project in the Republic of Congo, writes Laura Cornish.

BVi Group was awarded the full infrastructure contract for all infrastructure development at the Mayoko project in September 2012. Completion (of the first phase) is due toward the end of 2013. It is Exxaro’s first iron ore development, expected to initially deliver 2 Mtpa of iron ore (in 2014) and then possibly scale up to 10 Mtpa around 2016/2017. “BVi was selected by Exxaro for this project based on its excellent mining infrastructure experience and the professional manner in which our projects are executed,” says Hennie Maas, BVi director of mining and EPCM projects.

“This is BVi’s first mega mining infrastructure project in sub- Saharan Africa and we consider it a great opportunity to secure further similar work in Africa. The South African market has been our cornerstone thus far and will never be neglected; however, opportunities in Africa are expected to drive exceptional growth moving forward. Bearing this in mind, we will use Mayoko as a stepping stone to launch ourselves further into Africa. Working on the continent is different to South Africa and a special set of skills and experience are necessary to ensure project success. Future clients will ask: Do you have working experience in Africa? We can now confidently say yes. Coupled with our high standard of work, we are confident doors will open for us,” Maas adds.

BVi’s contract

Lenro Harmse, BVi Mayoko project manager outlines the contract scope, which includes but is not limited to the following major infrastructure items:

  • bulk earthworks
  • contractor laydown areas
  • sourcing and selection of construction materials
  • major river crossings
  • roads and haul road access to the mine areas
  • water supply from river intakes
  • electricity generation, supply and reticulation
  • water purification
  • sewerage treatment
  • storm water management
  • project, operational offices and workshops
  • civil design of all plant and equipment
  • surveying of infrastructure areas
  • construction management of contractor
  • establishment of a permanent personnel village
  • housing of permanent employees
  • expansion of the construction village
  • master town and regional planning for the new local town township
  • long-term power supply studies

At present

The design work for Phase 1A of the project has just been completed and construction activities are planned to commence during July 2013. Work on Phase 1B of the project commenced in May 2013.

Harmse admits that while BVi has encountered challenges on the project, they are viewed as opportunities to learn and grow. “The unavailability of construction materials has enforced creative design philosophies. For every design, the supply source and time to site must be considered prior to finalising a design,” Harmse explains.

“A constantly wet climate calls for constant special care to be taken in designing roads, stormwater and other infrastructure to ensure continuous operation in these conditions. From an environmental point of view, special care was taken to minimise the impact on the pristine rain forests,” he continues.

“Adapting and changing the way we work, within a very short time frame, to effectively manage the conditions and challenges of this project, is a success we will carry with us.” This can be attributed to BVi’s recent experience on mining infrastructure projects such as Kumba Iron Ore’s Kolomela project, Exxaro’s Inyanda colliery, the Sishen Bucket and Bowl workshop and Life-of-Mine workshops.

“It is clear that the combination of BVi’s experienced staff complement and philosophy (working with our clients and not for them) enables us to satisfy our clients and secure recurring work.”

In addition to Mayoko

“We have invested huge sums of money into developing the BVi Africa brand and are very proud to say that we are making inroads and are now reaping the fruits of our investment,” Maas proudly states

The first phase of BVi’s African development strategy is to establish a presence in Namibia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Mozambique. This is in addition to countries where the company has already or currently is executing projects (without a fully fledged office). These countries include Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland, Malawi, Egypt, Uganda and the DRC.

“In the DRC, we established a company, BVi Congo SPL in 2010, which is a service provider for Francophone Africa. At this point in time, we are excited about our progress towards the execution of our African development strategy, Phase 1, aimed at establishing a permanent presence in all our target countries. It is also our intention to, during the construction phase of the Mayoko project, establish a permanent presence in the Congo. This will greatly enhance and support our BVi Congo SPL initiative,” Maas outlines.

During 2013, BVi Africa will intensify its efforts to focus on developing its presence in Africa. “In addition to the Phase 1 strategy, we will also be focusing on various other targeted African countries, thus building on our success and previous experience gained.”

Sidebar: Additional contracts under way

  • BVi Congo has been successful in acquiring a number of contracts; the most significant project being the Butembo-Beni-Kasindi BOT roads concession project in eastern DRC. “We have now established a partnership with the DRC government for the development of a framework of sustainable infrastructure projects to carry out these projects.
  • In Mozambique, the company is involved in a number of projects in various governmental sectors, with its regional office in Maputo.
  • With regards to Angola, BVi is proud to be the sole technical service provider for a newly formed initiative, SAAHI (South Africa Angola Housing Initiative), which is a government-supported programme focusing on providing human settlements and associated infrastructure in Angola.