Senior mining consultant on South Africa's waning coal market

23 November 2018

The position of coal as the backbone of South Africa’s mining sector is currently under threat from exhausting reserves and an overall lack of investment in further exploration and capacity development, according to Xavier Prevost, a Senior Analyst at mining consultancy XMP Consulting.

A global dip in the price of precious metals in 2014 substantially dented the revenues and market capitalisation of South Africa’s mining sector. Nevertheless, while revenues were dragged down by gold and platinum, the only degree of stability came from coal, which has remained in steady demand since. 

According to Xavier Prevost, however, this scenario is likely to change in the near future. Provost works as a Senior Analyst at XMP Consulting, a firm with mining expertise that offers a range of services in resource analysis, processing, market analysis, competitor analysis and even transportation analysis.

Senior mining consultant on South Africa's waning coal market

Provost confirms what many mining experts have been saying for some time now – that the existing reserves in South Africa are severely depleted and the lack of investment in exploration is preventing the emergence of stable alternatives.

“We don’t have the investments right now, [which means that] we cannot plan new projects or new mines – and that is the lifeline of the industry. We are not doing that well - we are actually decreasing production. And with this comes increasing costs, increasing prices and, therefore, everything is [affected],” says Prevost.

As a possible solution, he advocates an inward-looking approach, wherein existing coal mining entities embrace the judicious use of their resources and optimise their overall production process. New technologies coming up for the mining sector will help firms with this process.

Nevertheless, the current outlook appears bleak as per Prevost’s analysis. “Export coal cannot grow until the present coal oversupply and Richards Bay Coal Terminal price decreases. It’s not working for them as a country, and economically, it’s actually a big problem in terms of producing energy or electricity at competitive prices.”

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SRK Exploration Services appoints John Paul Hunt as new Local Manager

13 March 2019

South African mining consultancy SRK Consulting has appointed John Paul Hunt as a new Local Manager for its Exploration Services Vertical. Hunt will join the firm’s Johannesburg office, and will help with domestic delivery in South Africa as well as international delivery from the firm’s Cardiff office.

Hunt holds a degree in Economic Geology as well as a degree in Resource Evaluation from the University of Witwatersand, and a degree in Applied Geostatistics from the University of Alberta. He began his professional career as an Economic Geologist at Norilsk Nickel Africa, where he worked for a period of six years.

He then moved on to become an Exploration Manager at Newgenco Exploration, following which he ascended to Chief Executive Officer at First Drill – a position that he held for just under two years. Between 2015 and 2018, Hunt worked as a Spcialist Scientist for Economic Geology at the Council for Geoscience.

He joined SRK Exploration Services in August Last year as a Senior Exploration Strategist, and has now been promoted to the position of Local Manager for South Africa. At SRK, he will leverage his expertise in exploration programmes from the planning to the execution phase, at a time when such services are of the essence for the economy.John Paul Hunt - SRKFollowing the dip in global commodity prices in 2014, the mining sector in South Africa has struggled to maintain its previously soaring levels, both in terms of revenue and in terms of market capitalisation. Such a scenario has proved catastrophic for the country, given its high dependence on mining.

A number of experts on the mining industry have since been recommending possible courses of action to help instigate a recovery. The broad consensus has been that more expansive and efficient exploration is the solution, given that the country might still have undiscovered mineral deposits.

SRK Consulting has been among the firms most active in supporting the sector through its time of turbulence. The firm has produced extensive analysis on South African mining, informing firms about a range of functions, from digital exploration to cost cutting under new regulatory frameworks.

The firm appointed a new Chairman – William Joughin – early last year, which makes Hunt the second major appointment in a year. Hunt will hope to boost the firm’s competitiveness as international consulting firms look to rush in and support South African mining companies in trouble.