De Simone is a Ghanaian-based EPC established in 1964. What have been the latest milestones since we last spoke?
Since last year, we began physical operations in Ivory Coast through an initial project at Yaouré Gold, owned by Perseus Mining. We have been able to expand our footprint through contracts at the Bonikro mine of Afrique Gold, as well as Séguéla, managed by Roxgold (now Fortuna Silver Mines). Our regional expansion is project-dependent since it would be very difficult to mobilize our assets to a country without securing a project there first.
How have you observed demand trends in the mining and construction sectors in the last 2 years?
Regardless of the highs and lows experienced, gold prices have held quite high. On the back of this trend, there has been a lot of excitement in the West African gold mining space, with more projects finding themselves at a more advanced stage than they would have been in a lower price regime. Mining has proven feasible even in the more security-challenged countries, which has boosted the sector. We’ve also seen greater emphasis on strengthening mining regulations in different countries.
In the construction business, the biggest challenge came when the restrictions were over and projects that had been interrupted by lockdowns were supposed to resume. There were many delays in trying to define and redefine these projects, their relevance, and the strategy forward in a very changed climate. Despite these conditions, De Simone undertook the largest project to date and we were busy with many infrastructure developments. From where we stand, there is palpable willingness to spend, and economies are moving once again. However, the high raw material prices create a two-sided situation whereby some economies are helped by the high prices, while some sectors suffer due to heightened costs.
How do you see opportunities in both greenfield and brownfield developments?
West Africa is very diverse, with many differences between Ghana and other countries in the region. Ghana is well-established, it has many brownfield developments underway, and the players active here are almost exclusively focused on the country, whereas companies present in Ivory Coast are typically also in Burkina Faso, adopting similar methods of operation from one country to another. Even though the working environments are quite different, we actually adapt very quickly on the ground, tuning in to the surroundings and making sure the team is equipped with adequate resources.
What makes De Simone a contractor of choice in the region?
The client makes different considerations when picking a contractor. I believe track record is one of the most important ones. Our philosophy is to focus on what we can offer and what we are truly good at, rather than what the competition is able to do or, worse off, selling ourselves as something that we are not. Clients appreciate the transparency and the straightforward approach, knowing from our long-lasting experience that we deliver efficiently.
Can contractors like De Simone contribute to improved sustainability within the realm of a project?
We try to find means and ways to contribute withing the restrictions we have dictated by the projects. Our objective is to render our service in an efficient manner and by finding sustainable mechanisms through the use of new technologies or innovative technics. This is always something we are trying to achieve.
What are your main objectives in the next 1-2 years?
Besides further establishing ourselves in our areas of activity and countries of focus, our goal is to increase our CSR contribution: De Simone wants to make sure we share the advantages of our work with the local community and to show we are not there to benefit alone from the situation, but to help. We are looking for different ways to get involved, not only participating in the programs designed by miners but also developing our own initiatives.
Do you have a final message to share with our audience?
Few expected West Africa would be so successful in managing this crisis, but it has shown it can cope with hard changes while maintaining high output and a high pace of work. The continuity of operations in the region is a credit to the different governments, Mineral Commissions, and the miners themselves. The West African mining market is very promising.