What do mining, petrochemicals and manufacturing have in common? They are all critical market sectors contributing to sustainability and quality of life for millions. Now leading consulting engineering and infrastructure advisory firm Zutari has taken the bold step of combining all three of these sectors under the rubric of resources, headed up by Dr. Eduard Vorster as Managing Director, Resources: Africa.
This forms part of Zutari’s ‘solutionist mindset’ approach to expand the boundaries of engineering in co-creating sustainable infrastructure for the benefit of future generations. “In the past we called this business segment Petrochemicals, Resources and Manufacturing. However, we decided the name was quite cumbersome. It also did not reflect our holistic view that mining, petrochemicals and manufacturing all convert natural resources into end products,” explains Dr. Vorster.
“What differentiates Zutari is that we not only serve a niche portion within the project value chain like some competitors. We offer complete solutions. This is due to the diverse skills we have within the company, which allows us to apply our expertise to create an engineered impact,” says Dr. Vorster.
Mining accounts for the lion’s share of Zutari’s work under the umbrella of resources, with the automotive industry the latest addition under manufacturing. Core skills in mining range from advising on operational excellence to contract management, quantity surveying, contract management, procurement and project management. More specialist skills include bulk materials handling, civils, geotechnical, structural, mechanical, electrical and controls and instrumentation, as well as a unique heavy-haul rail capability.
“The commonality whether it is petrochemicals or mining or manufacturing is that drive to create more sustainable value by making impact while also doing good business.” Dr. Eduard Vorster, Managing Director, Resources: Africa, Zutari
“What lets us stand head and shoulders above the rest of the industry is the services we provide outside the gates of those mining facilities. For example, we have a deep passion and skill in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG). Our in-house environmental teams do not focus solely on licencing and compliance but take a broad view of our clients’ sustainability strategies and assist them to sculpt those accordingly,” says Dr. Vorster.
Zutari’s strength in the ESG arena relates to energy, water and social impacts. In many instances clients’ business operations impact local communities, which requires a strategic response to socioeconomic imperatives as well as sustainability initiatives such as achieving net zero and decarbonisation. “That much broader approach certainly makes us different,” notes Dr. Vorster. “It is our core strategy in the way we deal with clients.”
Here Zutari adopts a selective approach to clients and projects it can embark on a journey with. “This strategy fits easier with entities with multiple asset bases as it cements our relationship from a C Suite level, where providing strategic advice is paramount, to an operational level where we look at the overall day-to-day running of the operations themselves,” explains Dr. Vorster.
Zutari will consider valuable projects for other entities such as single-asset miners if it aligns with its vision of co-creating an engineered impact. “We have to feel that we can add significant value, or it would not be worthwhile for us or the client to pursue,” says Dr. Vorster. This is where the focus on ESG is so important, as the environmental aspect runs the gamut from dealing with natural resources in a sustainable manner through to working with the host communities, even when the lifespan of the mining operation is over.
“The commonality whether it is petrochemicals or mining or manufacturing is that drive to create more sustainable value by making impact while also doing good business,” says Dr. Vorster. All these industries have core processes where sustainability issues such as water treatment and energy efficiency must be considered. Zutari’s process engineers have the capability to understand the clients’ core businesses. “We apply those skills in the infrastructure space to assist them to do their business more efficiently and sustainably.”
The difference between mining and manufacturing in some instances is that the manufacturing environment is competitive to start with and very efficient, hence it needs its own focus. It employs people differently and procures differently, while the projects differ in terms of size and speed of execution. Mining differs in that the size and scope of projects here is so much bigger.
“The thinking required is different. Hence, we like to specialise people in all three industries so they can familiarise themselves with the clients’ needs and deliver quality solutions. Obviously, our learnings from all these industries can be applied cross-sectorally,” says Dr. Vorster.
“The one feeds the other. The commonality is the application of data, which adds value by embracing digital transformation. For Zutari, this means a common approach to a client like Anglo American as well as Coca Cola, for example. It is all about creating effective and speedy solutions by utisiling all the data that is available and applying it for future benefit. This is the mindset we adopt to assist our resources clients as effectively as possible,” concludes Dr. Vorster.