"The subcontracting law and the government’s local content initiative gives more opportunities to local companies, protects the national workforce and promotes the Congolese middle-class."
What does Top Engineering Services offer to the Congolese mining industry?
Since its establishment in 2013, Top Engineering has been supplying the market with steel fabrication and civil engineering services. Other services we offer include steel erection and sandblasting. As a specialist steel fabricator, we understand the value of local knowledge and on-site manufacturing that results in significant savings. We rely on our partners in Uganda and South Africa. All the steel we buy and use is certified, ensuring its high quality.
Our strategic choice of location in the north and south of the DRC allows us to offer a highly responsive service to clients. One of our current projects is in the Kibali gold mine, in the northeast of the DRC, where we are providing maintenance services. We work by relying on both our local and expatriate staff to ensure the quality of the service we offer.
In addition to your work with Barrick Gold in Kibali, what other mines do you work with and what services do you provide them?
We have been working in the Kibali gold mine for almost eight years, focusing on plant maintenance and repair. However, last year we also worked on installing the hydropower columns at the mine, in addition to building a silo on-site for the cement used in the underground operation. Another client of ours since 2019 is the Kamoto Mining Company (KCC). Today we are working on seven big projects with KCC, including steel fabrication and installation of the conveyor.
Ivanhoe’s Kamoa-Kakula project also offers some great opportunities for local companies such as ourselves, which we look forward to benefiting from in the near future if the opportunity arises.
Why would a mine prefer steel fabrication on-site?
Manufacturing on-site decreases costs by approximately 30% as it reduces transport, warehouse and manpower costs. It also allows the client to monitor the progress more directly, and for the product to be tailored to the client’s needs. For example, manufacturing and transporting a silo from South Africa to the DRC can take up to two months.
How has the implementation of the subcontracting law in 2019 impacted your operations?
The subcontracting law and the government’s local content initiative gives more opportunities to local companies, protects the national workforce and promotes the Congolese middle-class. It does also offer some flexibility, if the skill cannot be found locally the mine can rely on expats. What must be emphasized and enforced however, is a strict policy of training and transfer of skill, to train Congolese nationals and ensure they take on these expat roles in the future. As Top Engineering Services, we rely on a mixture of both local and foreign skill.
To what extent do changes in metal prices resonate to your operations?
We are fortunate to not be impacted by metal price changes as much as other service providers in the industry. Demand for our services is less volatile as we provide plant maintenance and repair services which are needed regardless of the copper or gold price. However, in the long-run, a bullish metal price outlook for the next year or two would promote a mine’s expansion and increase opportunities for Top Engineering Services.
Where do you see the highest growth potential for Top Engineering Services?
Our logo embodies our vision: mobility and flexibility in our operations, wherever we see opportunity we expand. First, we are focusing on consolidating our service offering in Kolwezi working with Glencore, and expanding to include Ivanhoe as our client. We are also open to joint venture opportunities in South Africa or elsewhere.