Tag Archives: Mike Wells

Murray & Roberts Cementation’s safety performance heralded

South Africa-based Murray & Roberts Cementation says it has just achieved six million fatality-free shifts, while also picking up a raft of awards at the recent Murray & Roberts Group CE Safety Recognition Awards.

These acknowledgements are especially significant for a mining-related business, Trevor Schultz, Risk Executive at Murray & Roberts Cementation, says. Schultz highlights that the Murray & Roberts mining group had reduced its lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) from 1.25 to 0.93 – taking it below the challenging score of 1.

Last month, the Association of Mine Managers of South Africa (AMMSA) recognised Murray & Roberts Cementation for reaching six million shifts without a fatality. The certificate was handed over to Managing Director, Mike Wells, and Project Executive Kethu Mokgatlha at an AMMSA meeting in Rustenburg.

At the Murray & Roberts in-house safety awards for the global group, Murray & Roberts Cementation received three prizes in the Zero Harm Projects category. The first was for outstanding safety performance at its Northam Grout Plant Project in North West province, after 18 injury-free years. The other two projects recognised were its Khutala Colliery Project in Mpumalanga, and the Murray & Roberts Training Academy in Gauteng.

In the same ceremony, the company also received a Special Recognition award for individuals, teams or companies with outstanding contributions to safety performance.

Schultz says a key aspect of the company’s safety success has been its consistency and ongoing effort.

“It is important that we focus on applying and adapting our plans – and sticking with the agreed framework,” he says. “There are obviously realignments, when necessary, but we follow the plan and build momentum that way.”

He emphasises that Murray & Roberts Cementation accepts mining is a hazardous environment, but that safety is a managed outcome and all injuries are preventable. In the company’s view, Zero Harm is not a slogan but a value.

“Safety management is about empowering people to manage risk,” Schultz says. “Within the group’s safety framework, we have developed an integrated management system to drive safety.”

Among the ways the business continuously improves its safety impact is to record and classify incidents and ‘near misses’ in terms of their potential severity. These are presented at group level in a constructive engagement that highlights the lessons learnt. Such lessons are fed back into the group to inform strategies where working conditions may be similar.

“The lessons we draw from incidents really take our safety awareness to the next level,” Schultz says. “We also tap into the Minerals Council South Africa, to learn from incidents reported and analysed by our peers in the sector.”

(Pictured from left, Murray & Roberts Cementation Project Executive, Kethu Mokgatlha, and Managing Director, Mike Wells, receiving the certificate of recognition from AMMSA for reaching six million fatality free shifts)

Murray & Roberts Mining Platform order book returns to pre-pandemic levels

The Mining Platform of Murray & Roberts, a leading mining contracting business, is fast putting the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic behind it and its order book has now recovered to pre-pandemic levels, according to Mike da Costa.

“Our order book was eroded in the immediate aftermath of the global economic shutdown caused by the pandemic, but has now recovered nicely,” da Costa, who is CEO of the Mining Platform, said. “It now totals R22.2 billion ($1.44 billion) which is sharply up on the R17.9 billion of a year ago. Future prospects also look good as there is a significant pipeline of new projects that we’re bidding on.”

The Murray & Roberts Mining Platform consists of three regional businesses. These are Murray & Roberts Cementation, headquartered in Johannesburg but with branches in Kitwe in Zambia and Accra in Ghana; Cementation Americas (which incorporates Cementation USA), based in Salt Lake City, which handles the Americas; and RUC Cementation, which operates out of Perth in Australia and works throughout Australasia and Southeast Asia.

“We’re active in virtually every major mining jurisdiction,” da Costa says. “Notable mines and projects where we are currently working include the Venetia Underground Project in South Africa, the Jansen potash project in Canada, the Kennecott Utah Copper Keystone project in the US, the Oyu Tolgoi copper/gold mine in Mongolia, the Grasberg copper/gold mine in Indonesia and the Tanami gold mine in Australia.”

Mike da Costa, CEO of the Murray & Roberts Mining Platform

The Mining Platform, which in Murray & Roberts’ 2021 financial year generated revenues totalling approximately R9.5 billion, offers services spanning every aspect of underground mining, including feasibility studies, specialist engineering, vertical and decline shaft construction, mine development, specialist mining services such as raise boring and grouting, and contract mining.

Murray & Roberts Cementation, the African arm of the global Mining Platform, has been noted for its technical capabilities and, in particular, its shaft-sinking expertise, over the decades. It has played a vital role in the development of South Africa’s deep level gold mining industry and is currently turning over approximately R3.5 billion a year, with aims to lift this to R4.5 billion, the company says.

Commenting on the current performance of Murray & Roberts Cementation, its Managing Director, Mike Wells, says the bulk of its work is in South Africa.

“Historically, we’ve worked all over Africa but at the moment our African presence – outside of South Africa – is largely confined to some raiseboring contracts we have in Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso and Tanzania, as well as a contract at the Navachab gold mine in Namibia where the client is developing a trial underground mine. In South Africa, however, we are extremely busy. We’ve definitely put the impact of the pandemic behind us.”

Wells says a particular highlight for Murray & Roberts Cementation at the moment is the coal sector.

“We’re working at New Clydesdale colliery through our Boipelo joint venture,” he notes. “We’re also at Matla 1, where we are doing stonework to re-establish the mine in a new location. Another opportunity in the coal sector is to do stonework by the method of road heading and we’re actively pursuing work of this type.”

Murray & Roberts Cementation’s flagship contract is the Venetia Underground Project, where the company’s work on the sinking and equipping of the two vertical shafts the project requires is now well advanced, with the shaft sinking phase nearing completion. Although Murray & Roberts Cementation’s current scope of work runs through to about 2024, Wells believes there is a reasonable prospect of the company remaining active at the mine for years to come, given the scale of the VUP.

In the PGM field, Murray & Roberts Cementation has worked for several years on various aspects of the giant Platreef project, near Mokopane (pictured above), and is just starting its latest contract at the site, which will see it carrying out development for the initial Phase 1 mine. An interesting feature here is that the contract will see Murray & Roberts Cementation using a battery-powered mining fleet – owned by the client, Ivanplats – for the first time.

Murray & Roberts Cementation is working at the New Clydesdale colliery through its Boipelo joint venture

Moving to safety, Wells labelled Murray & Roberts Cementation’s safety record as ‘outstanding’.

“We notched up five million fatality-free shifts just over a year ago, which was a major milestone, and we should hit the 6 million mark shortly,” he said. “We’ve now been fatality free for around six-and-half years, which is a truly exceptional run. We attribute our success to our Major Accident Prevention program, as well as the excellent training we provide at our world-class Training Academy at our Bentley Park premises, near Carletonville.”

The task of bringing new business into Murray & Roberts Cementation is the responsibility of Allan Widlake, New Business Director, who says there is plenty of scope for the company to grow both in South Africa and the rest of Africa.

“Clients across the board are starting to put out new tenders and projects that were previously on hold,” he states. “This is particularly the case in South Africa, but we’re encouraged by developments in other parts of Africa. In Zambia, for example, there are definitely some opportunities emerging on the Copperbelt.”

Widlake says Murray & Roberts Cementation is differentiated from most other players in the market by the breadth of its offering, its procurement ability, its balance sheet, its HR skills, its safety record and the training facilities at Bentley Park.

“Our Training Academy is a huge asset and is particularly important now that localisation of employment opportunities is a requirement on virtually all contracts,” he said. “We can take people with no mining experience and bring them up to an impressive level of competence very quickly by putting them through Bentley Park.”

Moving back to the global perspective, da Costa says the relatively recent acquisition by Murray & Roberts of Terra Nova Technologies in the US and Insig Technologies in Australia will significantly expand the Mining Platform’s capabilities.
San Diego-based Terra Nova has given the platform a strong foothold in the materials handling market. The company designs, supplies and commissions overland conveyors, crushing/conveying systems, mobile stacking systems and in-pit crushing and conveying systems.

“Terra Nova is a perfect fit for Murray & Roberts’ Mining Platform and gives us the capability of delivering, for example, conveying systems of up to 12 000 t/h capacity,” da Costa said. “Its biggest market is North America but it is also active in South America and has an office in Santiago in Chile. It has, in fact, just won a major contract in Chile. Our intention is to grow the business by leveraging our global footprint.”

Commenting on the Insig acquisition, da Costa says it takes Murray & Roberts into high-tech territory, as the company specialises in developing IoT (Internet of Things) systems and remote control solutions in the mining field.

“We’ve been working on a digital strategy for the Mining Platform for some time now and the acquisition of Insig is central to our digital journey,” concludes da Costa. “We will be using Insig’s systems in house initially but will ultimately market them to the wider mining industry. We see them as being vital in our move to increase efficiencies, cut costs and increase safety through digitisation.”

Murray & Roberts Cementation achieves major safety milestone

The year has started strongly for mining services specialist Murray & Roberts Cementation, with a safety achievement of five million fatality-free shifts.

According to Mike Wells, Managing Director of Murray & Roberts Cementation, this landmark has been reached as part of a concerted corporate journey towards Zero Harm.

“This exciting milestone, which we reached in early January 2021, is the result of years of commitment by every member of the company – through multiple initiatives and programs,” Wells said. “This has included our unrelenting focus on the Major Accident Prevention program, as well as stringent risk assessments and the verification of critical controls in the field.”

Perhaps the greatest outcome of these efforts, he highlighted, is that the company’s safety leadership has succeeded in motivating and inspiring all employees in fully internalising safety principles. This has entrenched the belief that Zero Harm can indeed be achieved, with each employee returning home safely every day.

“We have seen a vital attitudinal change over the years, where success has bred more success and all our people take ownership of their safe work practices – both personally and collectively,” Wells said. “This builds a resilient safety culture, which has included a crucial commitment to doing work right the first time.”

Underpinning much of the success in safe working practices has been the increased investment in effective training strategies at the Murray & Roberts Training Academy at Bentley Park near Carletonville, South Africa. Here, the latest technologies and methods – supported by realistic mock-ups of mining environments – ensure workers are fully prepared for all working conditions.

“Our mining customers today regard the commitment to fatality-free operations as a given – not only for themselves but for their service providers,” Wells said. “We are proud to be able to demonstrate our success as part of the broader progress in this field by the whole mining sector.”

Over the years during which the five million fatality-free shifts have been achieved, Murray & Roberts Cementation has conducted a diverse range of projects across sub-Saharan Africa, including large shaft sinking contracts. Employee numbers over this time have averaged about 4,000, Wells said.