SA Mining April09

Being in possession of a product range that is in demand whether markets are in a boom or bust cycle is a good place to be, particularly as, under current market conditions, the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be rather dim and far away. Automation and General Electrical (AGE) Technologies is one such company. CE Norman Jackson tells Nelendhre Moodley about the company’s strategy going forward.

AGE Technologies, a systems integrator, electrical and automation engineering specialist, is involved in the supply-chain process from initial bulk explosives to the refining process.

 

“We are busy in good and bad times. During the good times companies look to invest in technology to improve production, and in the difficult times they look to technology to assist with reduced staff, decrease running costs, increase efficiency and improve production figures,” Jackson explains. He also notes that, while a number of mining-related projects have been shelved, ‘there is still plenty of water in

the project pipeline’. The company serves numerous industries, including the automotive, food and beverage, materials handling, power generation, water treatment and metals and minerals industry.

 

Being one of the biggest independent system integrators in the country, AGE Technologies’ focus is to extend its technology offering throughout Africa, looking after and retaining its current customer base and concentrating on establishing a new client base. “We will concentrate on developing a new customer base by continuing to work with Australian, Canadian and US companies developing new mines in Africa.” Jackson regards Africa as a relatively untapped resource, with much mining development still scheduled to take place. AGE Technologies’ engineering team is well-geared to ‘go out into Africa to commission projects’, this is aside from serving its current customer base. “90% of our business is from repeat clients or referrals. Our strategy is to be a solutions provider across a number

of projects for our clients.”

 

AGE Technology continues to retain the majority of its  original clients from 14 years ago. Discussing its growth prospects, Jackson reports that the company recently developed strong ties with BEC Engineering - a Perth-based energy and control systems engineering consultancy - by inking a strategic alliance partnership agreement for the supply of automation expertise for African projects. This is aside from commissioning the Lumwana project in Zambia, as well as ASX-listed Lihir Gold’s Bonikro operation in Ivory Coast, which had its first gold pour in October last year.

 

AGE Technology is currently involved in commissioning the Smokey Hills project and Blue Ridge project. Being at the end of the project life-cycle, the company has yet to feel the impact of the current economic slowdown. However, Jackson is confident that, with copper prices turning, a positive movement in the market over the coming months is inevitable.

 

“Copper is on the rebound and we see it as a key indicator to economic recovery. It is needed in all areas,” Jackson reiterates.

 

While demand for commodities such as gold and coal continues, the number of new gold and coal projects being developed is on the increase.

 

Further, Jackson anticipates an upturn in the Zimbabwean resources sector, which is ‘starting to get foreign exchange into the country’.

 

“This is a big opportunity for us. We have maintained our presence and have supported companies in the country through the tough times.”

 

This exchange comes on the back of indications that a nickel refinery project shelved six years ago is on the verge of being revived. AGE Technologies has been involved in a service level agreement with Zimplats for the past eight years.

 

Current AGE Technologies PROJECTS

 

The company is currently busy with a bulk emulsion plant upgrade in Zambia for African Explosives Limited (AEL). The contract, which involves controlling the explosives mixing process, started in June last year and is in the final stages of commissioning.

 

AGE Technologies continues to provide high-level technical support and ongoing consultancy assistance to AEL locally.

 

AGE Technology is not new to working in Zambia, having recently commissioned the Lumwana copper project, the second biggest copper project in Africa, which is located in the north-west province of Zambia.

 

Having implemented the Biox technology for the GRD Minproc contract for the Bogoso (gold) project in Ghana, AGE Technologies continues to be on a service level agreement, two years after project implementation.

 

The company is also involved in supporting Platinum Australia’s Smokey Hills project. “People want to develop technology partners who can advise and help them in the long-term.”

 

AGE Technologies is also busy completing its contract for Bateman, which is involved with the Blue Ridge Platinum project located on the eastern limb of the Bushveld Complex.

 

Schneider Electrical contracted AGE Technologies to construct the PLC panels and the related Scada engineering software for the Blue Ridge Platinum Project. This is the first time that Schneider Electrical has implemented unity application generator software in Africa.

“We are busy in good and bad times. During the good times companies look to invest in technology to improve production, and in the difficult times they look to technology to assist with reduced staff, decrease running costs, increase efficiency and improve production figures”

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