Tulela mines all over

Steel skills and copper mines

25 August 2020 | Business

Stefan Engelbrecht, Tulela managing director: “My biggest satisfaction is building the Namibian skills base and seeing the market convinced that we have the right skills”.

Augetto Graig

WINDHOEK

Tulela Namibia is the epitome of Namibian skills and mining know-how, and it is making inroads into Africa to promote home-grown ingenuity to the continent, and the world.

The group has had a year of incredible growth despite the global outbreak of Covid-19.

According to managing director Stefan Engelbrecht, recent highlights include the completion of a bankable feasibility study for a copper project in the Zambian Copperbelt for a client from the United Kingdom.

Operational contracts have been secured to provide engineering, procurement, construction and management of the new project, as well as for materials management including crushing, screening, load and haul.

“Things look good in Zambia,” he said. They have also received a letter of intent for another open pit mining project in that country, he added.

Zambian branch

Tulela Zamibia is now registered in that country, as is Tulela in South Africa, and Tulela Angola. “At last,” he added. Engelbrecht sees a big future for the company in Angola.

“We are already in communication with investors. Angola could be a Pandora’s Box,” he said, “with the new government being very positive”.

Locally, Tulela still has its exploration licence at Helmeringhausen, where geotechnical work and exploration continues, and the copper project at Sib near Dordabis, in partnership with geologist Karl Hartmann, is up for commissioning next February, he said.

Made of steel

Tulela has completed its acquisition of Stahl Engineering, previously known as NEC Stahl, which they technically bought out in October 2019.

“This puts us in a unique position,” said Engelbrecht, “to offer a complete turn-key package; from studies to designs, steel fabrication to construction and construction management.

“Potentially, it means massive savings for the client, for example, the Zambia project aims for a saving around 25%,” he said.

Engelbrecht is most proud that at Tulela, everything is ‘Namibianised’ and built off the local skills base.

With just under 200 people on the payroll, the company boasts one of the biggest compliments of specialised fabricators, and an expanded engineering corpse, which peaked at 19 last year, and is only expected to grow again, he said.

Tulela teams are on site at Rössing, Dundee and Husab, assisting the mining division.

“We made a big investment into machinery from South Africa for fabrication on a big scale at our well-expanded workshop in Tsumeb,” he added.

“Local spend. Keep it local. Tulela is in a position to do everything, also access to financing,” he said.

Building Namibian skills base

Although the completion of projects sometimes means retrenchments, Engelbrecht said the coronavirus has not been the cause for any.

The company is unionised and Engelbrecht praised the co-operation they receive from particularly the Erongo branch of the Mineworkers Union of Namibia.

“They take our hands and in these tough times, we can engage with their people,” he said.

“My biggest satisfaction is building the Namibian skills base and seeing the market convinced that we have the right skills. We can’t do everything, but we can do a lot in mining.”

Covid-19 impact

“Covid-19 has taught employers to be thankful for the shift in union behaviour and viewpoint. They are more forthcoming and we can engage,” he said. “In my company, we put in the extra time, we work harder to meet the challenges, showing maturity in these difficult times. Amidst the impact on the world economy is the realisation that we must hold hands,” he added.

“The impact of Covid-19 on Tulela has also allowed the company to learn a lot of things in smarter ways, and I believe there will be a good, positive outcome post Covid-19,” he said.

He is also thankful for the political circumstances in Namibia, and the jurisdiction maintained here, which is seen as very positive from outside.

“The government makes the environment for people to invest, especially in mining. Our interaction with the ministry has been very supportive, especially the minister,” he said.

The company specialises in mining, logistics, processing, fabrication, engineering and exploration. What makes Tulela different is the comprehensive value proposition enjoyed by clients through unrestrictive access to all business entities within the group, including engineering, processing and mining.

Tulela members possess combined mining-related experience of more than 85 years, from which a solid foundation is formed to service the mining and private sectors, according to the company.

Skilled at it

Although specifically focused on processing, engineering, projects and maintenance services, this collective experience ensures personal access to a specialised network of industry specific professionals who can realise industry-leading solutions.

The exploration division is the latest addition to the growing Tulela family, including the functionality to provide geological consultation as well as drilling operations services.

The multidisciplinary approach and combined skillset reaching across operations and engineering offers clients unique solutions.

Consulting services provided include metallurgical consulting, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, civil engineering, structural engineering and process control.

Tulela can provide project managers, quality control, quality assurance inspectors, project buyers and expeditors to help clients with project management and administration.

Ever-ready

For design engineering, the company employs process engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical and electronic engineers and also civil and structural engineers. When it comes to draughting, Tulela employs AutoDesk Suite and Prokon for structural, civil, electrical engineering plans and earthworks.

In terms of construction Tulela provides site discipline engineers, quality assessment and assurance on site, construction supervisors and construction management teams to its clients.

Other operations benefit from Tulela drilling managers, quality inspectors, field supervisors and the highly experienced in-house drill operating crew.

Exploration project management under direction of a senior geologist is another service Tulela specialises in. ArcMap modelling, Datamine modelling and certified competencies are used when Tulela embarks on modelling and resource evaluation.

The company also boasts a fleet of drilling equipment including two diamond drill rigs featuring Tone TEL with wireline winchers, Deutz engines, Mercedes gearboxes, Toyota water-pumps with 2C engines and that are capable of drilling up to 800 metres deep, available on demand.