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British Consultancy Worldwide
The focus may have gone from the British Mining industry but SRK (UK) Ltd is supplying a new generation of mining expertise to the rest of the world.
SRK (UK) Ltd is the European arm of the international SRK Group, which originated in Johannesburg and now has offices in five continents. The company began operating in Cardiff in 1988 and its growth has been exceptional since 1993, when it was responsible for the competent persons report which was instrumental in RJB Mining PLC's acquisition of the assets of the British Coal Corporation.
During the last 3-4 years there has been a significant increase in the export of SRK (UK) Ltd's services. In 1996 company consultants operated in more than 30 countries (85% of the company's turnover involves overseas work) with an increasing amount of work emanating from the former eastern bloc countries, including Russia and Kazakhstan. In Russia, SRK (UK) Ltd is registered with the national authorities to carry out mine feasibility studies and environmental impact assessments.
In a high risk, sometimes speculative industry, SRK (UK) Ltd's work to identify risks and make judgements about the soundness of a mining investment is fundamental to a project's viability. Feasibility assessments of potential projects must nowadays increasingly encompass environmental as well as financial considerations. Thorough environmental evaluation and management is equally important to the long term future of a project as the more traditional mining disciplines, as many developers have found to their cost.
The services SRK (UK) Ltd provides to the international mining sector include feasibility studies for mining companies, audit and due diligence work for banks such as Rothschilds, Barclays and Standard Charter as well as mining companies themselves and other institutional investors, together with technical problem solving for a variety of clients. The latter involves tailings and waste engineering, geotechnical environmental and water engineering, geological exploration and geochemistry as well as mine planning and scheduling and financial and ore reserve estimates.
SRK (UK) Ltd's current areas of operations include mining projects in many exotic locations worldwide, from gold mines in the volcanic Kamchatka, the 'land of fire and ice' in the far east of Russia, coal, copper and gold mines in Europe and Africa, to gold mines in Fiji and Indonesia.
SRK (UK) Ltd has been supervising the environmental studies associated with the mining of rich gold deposits in Kamchatka over the last 18 months. The country presents many seismic difficulties for developers, and is dominated by salmon fishing (supplying 80% of Russia's needs) which makes the possibility of water pollution a highly sensitive issue.
In Greece, the company is carrying out a feasibility study for redeveloping mines which date back to Alexander the Great, including the mining, ore reserves, geotechnics and water management. The training of mine staff is also an important element of the project.
On the volcanic Fijian island of Viti Levu, SRK (UK) Ltd has to deal with very high geothermal gradients on the 70 years old Emperor Gold Mine. Underground workers there have to endure extreme humidity, with water at over 50° below 500m. To alleviate working conditions, the mine therefore has to be dewatered and ventilated, and it is SRK (UK) Ltd's task to present a mine water management strategy, predicting the flow of water and then build a computer model to manage it.
SRK (UK) Ltd is bringing its expertise to one of the largest undeveloped copper deposits in the world between the towns of Tenke and Fungurume in the new Democratic Republic of Congo. SRK (UK) Ltd has been appointed to carry out studies on geotechnics and mine water management for a full feasibility study, scheduled for completion in 1998 before construction of the mine begins. The work involves preliminary design of river persion works, identifying possible pollution and mitigation issues and assessing the impact of ground water on all aspects of mining.
The former Zaire is potentially one of the richest and most varied mining countries in the world. The export of mineral products produces most of the country's foreign exchange, and the mining industry is increasingly being seen as a means of enhancing economic development.
In Indonesia SRK (UK) Ltd is providing technical assistance and on-site supervision to solve mining, geotechnical, hydrogeological and mine backfill problems as well as sympathetic restoration of tropical rainforest following exploration and mining activities.
In Zambia SRK (UK) Ltd is assisting with the feasibility study of a zinc deposit which will extend the much needed economic development and infrastructure in the area.
Dr. Geoff Ricks, a Director with SRK (UK) Ltd in Cardiff, explains the increasing demand for the company's services:
"The work our consultants carry out in assessing the long term technical and environmental costs of a project is fundamental to the development of natural resources. In addition, a good deal of our work involves optimising the project design and returns, monitoring progress and minimising the environmental impact concurrent with the operations and after mine closure. Mining has a finite life and because of this closure issues are becoming recognised as a very important aspect of responsible mine development".
"SRK (UK) Ltd's reputation is based on the quality of the services we provide, and our corporate objective of always trying to add value to our client's project. We constantly strive to improve the services we offer and supply mining consultancy services based on real needs. Our aim is to be a partner of choice with our clients adding real value to their projects".