Versatile fabrication in Mozambique

What we’re doing is unique. We’re building on top of our previous achievements in a continuous process.

Jacinto Sabino MUTEMBA Chairman and CEO BELUTÉCNICA

Versatile fabrication in Mozambique

May 14, 2024

Jacinto Sabino Mutemba, chairman and CEO of Belutécnica, talks to The Energy Year about the company's expanded production capabilities and positioning Belutécnica to make the most of opportunities in mining and oil and gas. Belutécnica is a Mozambican company engaged in steel fabrication, industrial maintenance and refractory solutions for smelters, oil and gas facilities, mining operations, ports and construction projects.

What have been Belutécnica’s biggest challenges and achievements since we last spoke in 2020?
Restricted mobility during the pandemic severely affected our operations and we experienced declines in sales. However, our clients maintained their trust in our ability to keep their plants running with minimal breakdowns and under controlled maintenance costs, and they continued to renew their contracts. We even signed some new ones.
In 2022, we adopted new technology and began using digital platforms to communicate, which gave us a more detailed and timely understanding of our operations and how we use our workforce, allowing us to allocate resources better and make the most of our capabilities.
More importantly, we finalised the construction of our new and modern mechanical fabrication workshop, inside the Beluluane Industrial Park free zone, which became operational in January 2023. It is closer to some of our main clients such as Mozal, which, from the point of view of logistics and quality management is a great advantage. This workshop is designed for versatility, giving us capabilities from heavy fabrications and repairs to light metal fabrication and machining. It will serve as a modern facility fully equipped for processing different types of metal, from piping to tanks, as well as structures and mechanical pieces.

How has the new workshop impacted your production capacity?
It’s a versatile facility where we can make various types of products and also carry out special maintenance. Very large and heavy structures can be fabricated there or be brought in for repairs. The entrance is designed with a rollout system that allows large trucks to come in and out without complicated manoeuvring, which increases the volume we can handle in one go.
The workshop is served by overhead cranes that can handle structures of up to 46 tonnes, simultaneously. Few other workshops in Mozambique can boast such a combination of location, modernity and versatility, which places us in a prime position for special projects.
Our range of fabrications covers light and heavy steel structures, light and heavy boilers, floating pontoons, fuel tanks and piping for mining and petrochemicals, as well as many other structural elements and equipment.

What initiatives is Belutécnica taking to diversify its activities?
We are obtaining certification to fabricate pressure vessels, which will increase our footprint in the oil and gas business. The objective is to be able to fabricate and repair big structures and tanks in the same workshop.
Besides, we have a very efficient shot blasting system to place proper corrosion protection on steel. We can ensure the durability of metals and structural elements, which is what our clients want.
To penetrate highly demanding sectors such as oil and gas we must quickly acquire technology and know-how. Being local is not enough to get business. We’re very proud to be Mozambican, but we understand that we need to be competent, and our competence must be certified for us to participate successfully in the market.
As part of the process of strengthening our technical capabilities, we are in the final stages of finalising a partnership with MegChem, from South Africa, one of the biggest engineering companies from the continent specialising in the oil and gas sector.

 

Where does this diversification and technology place you relative to competitors?
I can only judge the quality of what we’re doing. The quality of our work and the quality of our future partnership speak for themselves. I believe that what we’re doing is unique, and it will complement what we’ve done in the past. We’re building on top of our previous achievements in a continuous process.

How do you incorporate sustainability considerations into your work and what is your strategy for decarbonising your operations?
We are in the process of meeting ISO 14001 requirements for environmental management systems, and we also plan to install panels on our roof to replace our conventional electricity with solar and use more renewable energy in our facilities.
Our carbon footprint is already quite low because we use hydropower, but we believe there’s still room to improve. For instance, we adhere to the principles of the circular economy model by reducing the resources we use, and reusing and recycling materials whenever possible. A study of the viability of electrical vehicles for our operations is underway. We see great opportunities to become greener.

What opportunities do you see for Belutécnica in mining and what incentives should the government put in place to drive greater participation in this sector?
Most of what is being said about mining is negative, especially when it comes to small-scale mining because it is sometimes carried out illegally.
Mining opportunities in Mozambique are huge. The problem is a lack of knowledge about methods and technologies, which results in a lack of appetite for investment in machinery, which is further exacerbated by a lack of financing. As an engineering company, we focus on supplying industrial machinery at any scale and maintaining it for the long term, but many people can’t even conceive how to source the funds to buy machinery.
We know that the mining industry is full of safety and environmental risks. Our view is that the government should target small-scale miners to help them obtain environmentally safe technology and provide them with access to the necessary resources to mine legally. Giving an authority, such as the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy, centralised oversight over the entire mining spectrum, from exploration and extraction to export, would help make mining operations more sustainable.

Where can Mozambican enterprises add the most value in mining and where should they partner with international companies?
You have to do a combination of both. Many Mozambicans have studied geology and mining engineering, both in Mozambique and abroad, and they know about the science and the latest technologies. Unfortunately, most of them are working in a ministry, in Customs, or in other government offices, and wasting the precious skills they hold because their training isn’t being put to work. The impact of harnessing that could be huge for the mining industry, especially in small-scale operations.

How do you see Belutécnica evolving in the future?
I am confident we will grow to have better and better technology, and become a more competitive, impactful company that can add more value to our clients’ businesses. We will become more efficient and improve our ratio of revenue per employee. I am confident that in two years we will be certified to international standards and be a respected player in oil and gas.

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