Australian engineering consultancy firm MEC Mining last month launched a new geotechnical engineering division, as part of the company’s in-house services, to cater for industry demand in the mining sector.
The division will be led by MEC Mining technical services and Western Australia manager Erin Sweeney.
MEC Mining strategy, brand and sales manager Andrew Dittmann says the company’s decision to provide a geotechnical services arm was “a part of the company’s vision to provide clients with a full suite of technical services”.
MEC Mining is a globally active mining consultancy, and specialises in mine planning, feasibility studies and on-site professional services solutions for the mining industry.
Dittmann points out that after engaging with clients and undertaking market research, the company identified a shortage of geotechnical engineers in the Australian market.
As such, MEC Mining recognised that mining industry clients would benefit if the company offered the service as an in-house speciality division.
“During the last boom-bust cycle, the Australian mining industry saw many members of the workforce depart the mining industry, taking with them valuable, inherited operational knowledge. Unfortunately, the cyclic uplift did not see a return of this workforce or university enrolment numbers, and so the industry is faced with a short-term skills gap.”
Dittmann points out that this emphasises the importance of the long-term retention of MEC Mining’s specialist workforce.
“Holding a broad variety of skills sets and experiences in a global environment is key to our past, current and future success.”
As there are numerous synergies between mining engineering and geotechnical engineering, providing both services enables MEC Mining to support its clients through a collaborative approach to mine design, says Dittmann.
This also simplifies procurement processes, as it removes the need for clients to engage with multiple consultancies to obtain geotechnical and mining engineering support, he adds.
“The addition of these services positions MEC Mining as a highly skilled and operationally focused, medium-sized consultancy. This enables the company to competitively tender for much larger and more complex projects that are generally awarded to larger competitors.”
While the Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on markets globally, Dittmann enthuses that the Australian mining industry has showed significant resilience, despite aspects of the pandemic changing the way the industry operates.
“The adaptation towards a remote workforce has proven effective for many of our clients and has enabled our workforce to complete international and domestic work.”
Further, he explains that the economic effects of the pandemic have caused many mining companies to take a conservative approach in terms of capital expenditure while waiting to see how markets react.
This, he adds, has had a significant impact on the project pipelines of many miners, with certain projects being delayed or cancelled.
While the economic effects have also affected the projects MEC Mining is involved in, Dittmann says the company’s experience and expertise have allowed it to adapt to changes in the work pipeline.
Additionally, the company launched a new branch office in Perth last year, which he states has enabled the company to further expand its service offering in the Western Australia market.
This expanded market reach from the new branch has also enabled the company to diversify its client listing and market share within specific commodity sectors.
Further, Dittmann points out that there are several Perth-based, ASX-listed gold explorers with assets in Africa and Papua New Guinea. He adds that the company’s physical presence in Perth, and expertise in gold, will allow the company to better access and support these companies.
“MEC Mining is positioning itself as a one-stop shop for mining technical services. The goal is to provide our clients with easier access to high-quality technical support, which can add true operational value to their assets,” he concludes.