Dubai-headquartered, globally focused, RA International is looking forward to providing turnkey remote site solutions for companies in the Mining, Oil and Gas sectors in Africa, as they pull out all the stops to ramp up production in 2018. African Mining Brief (AMB) finds out from the company’s Chief Executive, Soraya Narfeldt, on the company’s services and approach.
AMB: When was RA International established? What is its mandate?
SN: RA International was established in 2003, to provide best practice support services in the most challenging environments across Africa, so that our clientele could focus on their core activities.
I am proud to say that the company has become Africa’s leading remote site service provider. Since the launch of RA International, we have turned the company in to a multifaceted business with offices in several countries across Africa employing over 1600 staff from 27 countries, with many satisfied customers
AMB: What turnkey remote site solutions does the company offer?
SN: RA International offers a broad range of services including construction, operation and maintenance, integrated camp management and supply chain. We cater to clients operating in remote and challenging environments across Africa, including those involved in humanitarian operations, the oil & gas and mining industries.
We typically provide our clientele secure accommodation camps as well as non-plant facilities and infrastructure such as warehouses, offices and workshops, access roads, perimeter security fencing, power generation, water boreholes, potable water treatment plants, waste water treatment plants, solid waste management plants, access roads and aircraft runways. Structures can be tented, prefabricated, brick and mortar or even reinforced concrete, dependent on the duration of the requirement and the security threat within the operating environment.
Our comprehensive integrated camp management service, is particularly attractive to our clientele. This service includes management of the camp, guest check-in/check-out, catering, cleaning, laundry, pest and vector control, plant & equipment operation and maintenance, facilities maintenance and waste management.
AMB: To which sectors do you offer your services?
SN: NGOs, Governments, and private enterprises are among our customers. These include the United Nations, World Bank, The African Union, several European and North American Governments, and a number of publicly listed companies. Within the mining and oil & gas sector, a number of emerging smaller operators have engaged with our company, and they have found our service offering to be both professional and cost effective.
AMB: Specific to MOG (Mine Oil and Gas), what special packages does the company have?
SN: RA International supports oil & gas or mining companies all the way from initial exploration through to full production, in the process providing a full range of construction and integrated camp management services as well as a supply chain service.
During the initial exploration phase, we provide small fully serviced and catered accommodation camps which are configured to be relocated from time to time, as is often the requirement. In addition to the usual integrated camp management services during this phase, we are able to support the client with vehicles, heavy equipment and fleet maintenance as well as the ongoing resupply of fuel, water, parts and equipment.
Once the operation has progressed through exploration, pre-feasibility and feasibility stages, we are able to ramp up our service offering to support the client during the mine construction phase. For this phase, we provide long term fully serviced accommodation camps as well as non-plant facilities and infrastructure. The long term accommodation camps are often supplemented by temporary accommodation camps which house the third party contractors involved with the construction.
Integrated camp management services become more complex with longer term camps, of course. Health and welfare programs improve the morale of camp residents. Pest and vector control programs enhance the comfort levels of the residents. Recreational facilities such as shops, gymnasiums, sports fields, wet/dry bars provide some of the home-comforts that make such a difference on long term remote sites.
The specialist mining contractors and EPC contractors are effective at ensuring specialist mining and plant related equipment and material gets to site. Other equipment, material and general supplies often fall through the cracks, and with its established network of suppliers and logistics partners, this is where RA International can really make a difference.
With its broad service offering, RA International is in the unique position of being able to take care of all the client’s non-core requirements, from the outset of exploration through to full production and beyond. With RA International, the client has one point of contact, whatever the requirement.
AMB: How does RA manage to deliver projects successfully in Africa, where transportation, among other logistics, is a big challenge? What is the company’s approach?
SN: Our success is built upon honesty, respect, accountability and sustainability. Any company that wants to operate in an African country has to begin with respect – respect for cultures, traditions, languages and business norms. Foreign templates rarely work, so it’s a great idea to partner with a local business, associate or partner as they would understand the local nuances better than anyone else and can navigate through difficult situations more easily as compared to their foreign counterparts. For the inexperienced however, such partnerships in Africa can be fraught with challenges.
AMB: How has the downturn in MOG sectors affected providers of remote site solutions? Thus far, what has RA’s experience been?
SN: Understandably, during the downturn few new operations went into production and expansion plans generally did not materialise. Most mining companies focused on their existing operations and looked at minimising operational waste by streamlining their businesses. Turnkey outsourcing was an attractive option to reduce management costs.
Today we are seeing an upturn with more exploration underway and more new mines starting to come on line. We’ve received a number of requests to supply small exploration outfits and this is a great sign for the industry in general.
AMB: Last but not least, what should Mining companies expect from RA International in 2018?
We have a presence in more than 10 African countries and are proactively expanding our customer base in key mining destinations such as Mozambique, Malawi, Ghana, Eritrea, Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and others. More and more companies operating in the mining sector will have access to our turnkey solutions to enable them to enhance their overall productivity.