The future of Angola’s mining sectorSeptember 4, 2023
José Evaristo Fernandes, CEO of Geosondas, talks to The Energy Year about the role the company plays in the Angolan mining sector, the primary projects that will drive the company’s growth and its keys to success for working with The Catoca Mining Company. Geosondas provides special engineering services for the mining sector.
What role does Geosondas play in the Angolan mining sector?
Our overarching vision revolves around achieving our objectives in alignment with the country’s exploration policies, both at national and international levels.
In addition, we have established ourselves as a key partner to the state by contributing to the efficiency and effectiveness of the geotechnical and geological information needed for the development of public and private projects. This collaboration highlights our commitment to supporting the country’s progress and growth.
These activities, which are driven by our vision and collaborative efforts, represent our main areas of focus. We eagerly look forward to further expanding our services and making a positive impact in the industry.
What are the key highlights of Geosondas’ operations?
Geosondas’ main clients include the Sociedade Mineira de Catoca [The Catoca Mining Company], Endiama and the Angolan state itself. Geosondas has been serving Sociedade Mineira de Catoca since 2009, establishing a long-standing partnership.
With Endiama, Geosondas provided preliminary exploration services for the geophysical survey at the Luaxe mine and for the first drilling operations. In 2002-2003, Geosondas played a direct role in the discovery of the promising Luaxe mine, which is considered the mine of the future.
Currently, Geosondas continues to offer geological prospecting services, with a focus on drilling and sampling. Additionally, whenever feasible, Geosondas also performs geophysical survey services in alignment with the geological programme of the Luaxe mine.
What are the keys to success for Geosondas when working with Catoca?
The key success factors for working with Sociedade Mineira de Catoca mine are efficiency and delivering high-quality service. Geosondas has been providing services for Catoca for 14 years, and it is crucial to maintain efficiency and consistently deliver work of the highest quality.
As one of the world’s four largest mines, the Catoca mine commands significant attention, and the stakes are high for service providers. Any failure can lead to significant consequences and potential embarrassment. While I do not have insider knowledge of Sociedade Mineira de Catoca’s or Endiama’s management, it is evident that maintaining a reputation for efficiency and quality is paramount.
What are the primary projects that will drive growth for Geosondas?
Geosondas is actively pursuing geological exploration and prospecting services in the areas of gold and black granite. Furthermore, we are continuing to develop our hydrogeological prospecting services, namely for drilling water wells. These efforts have allowed us to collaborate with provincial governments and to contribute to geophysical survey inspections.
Among our strategic plans, we aim to obtain an exploration licence that would enable us to engage in trading and become the concession holder. This strategic goal aligns with our broader programme, as we aspire to expand our role beyond being solely a provider of specific mining concessions. We intend to have mining exploration rights granted by the Angolan state.
What are the primary challenges Geosondas faces in its path to becoming a mining concession holder?
Accomplishing the transition from being a service provider to becoming an operator poses several significant challenges. One primary challenge is the need for both international and national partners.
Nationally, we rely on banks for financing and support. We have already made investments to acquire drilling equipment for geological sampling and detonation, especially the latter. However, effectively progressing with geological sampling remains an ongoing endeavour of ours.
To overcome these challenges, we seek local funding partnerships, but we will also require additional investors who can contribute their expertise and know-how. The complexity of this process necessitates a meticulous analysis and a well-designed programme to ensure that our project is strategically implemented.
By addressing these challenges and securing the right partnerships, we aim to navigate the transition successfully and achieve our goal.
How important is geotechnical information transparency in Angola’s push to attract investors?
Geotechnical information holds immense significance in determining the viability and worthiness of an investment. It is crucial for the decision-making processes of potential investors.
In the context of Angola, Endiama, as the state entity, possesses valuable geotechnical information regarding mining concessions. Investors are encouraged to visit and thoroughly analyse the geotechnical data provided.
This analysis enables them to evaluate whether the available information aligns with their investment objectives. If the geotechnical information proves favourable and meets the investors’ requirements, they can proceed with engaging Geosondas for drilling and related services. In this manner, geotechnical information acts as a vital factor in attracting and guiding potential investors towards promising mining opportunities.
What are Geosondas’ ambitions with respect to expanding geographically?
Due to the pandemic, our international geological prospecting services had to be put on hold. However, we are eagerly awaiting further communication or invitations from investors or the Zimbabwean government. We have previously worked in Zimbabwe and are keen to resume our services in the country.
What is your final message to international investors who are interested in Angola’s mining sector?
Investors must realise the magnitude of the untapped potential in Angola’s mining sector. Our industry is highly competitive, and Angola is a country on a growth trajectory.
Over the years our mining sector has demonstrated significant potential. We rank as the fifth-largest by area globally and the fourth-largest producer. Moreover, the recent discovery of the Luaxe mine, which is twice the size of Catoca, further highlights our resources.
I urge investors not to hesitate in investigating Angola’s potential. By visiting and experiencing first-hand how Angola’s mining sector is structured, they can truly grasp the opportunities it presents. Merely hearing about it won’t suffice. Investing in this sector holds great promise, and I encourage them to seize the opportunity.