AAMEG Africa Awards 2020: Workforce and Industry Development Nominee – Austral African Survey Group
By AAMEG | 5 November 2020
TRANSFERRING KNOWLEDGE DEVELOPING EXCELLENCE
AASG provides professional Project Surveying Services to companies that have Mining, Oil and Gas or major infrastructure projects in Africa.
Our business model is a combination of an African company which provides African Project Surveyors on the ground in Africa supported by an Australian company who provides Surveyors who manage these projects remotely which provides our client with a cost-effective solution.
The African Project Surveyors have been trained to western standards and have experience throughout the continent of Africa. The support our project surveyors receive from our Australian Surveyors consists of the following:
- Setting up management systems and procedures to ensure a high-quality work culture.
- Providing the latest surveying equipment and software for the most efficient outcomes.
- Setup project filing on the cloud so all information on site can be accessed from our offices in Australia.
- Provide ongoing auditing of our projects on an ongoing basis to ensure that the processes put in place are being adhered to.
- Continual training of our existing personnel and pass on our knowledge to our national survey assistants and technicians
Our last three major mine development projects in West Africa are as follows:
- Toro Gold in Senegal (August 2016 to Feb 2018),
- Teranga Gold in Burkina Faso (November 2017 to August 2019) and
- Perseus Mining in Cote D’Ivoire (August 2019 to October 2020),
As part of our agreement on these projects, we were to engage “local locals” to educate them in the role of surveying assistants, leading onto a survey technician role and to eventually transfer their employment from the construction team to the operations team.
In a lot of cases, these new employees we train came straight out of the local villages with most of them having farming experience and little or no experience in the mine development industry. This was extremely challenging and what made it even more challenging was having to translate our instructions from English into their local language.
But we then showed our surveying assistants (both male and female) our surveying equipment with the latest technology and the latest onboard software and they were amazed. Their thirst for knowledge about this equipment was unbelievable and they wanted to learn as much as they could.
Of course, all this training was conducted within the construction phase of the project and at times, this was an incredibly stressful environment for all our survey team members. On top of all that, just add the challenges that Covid 19 posed and this proved to be an extremely difficult time to operate in.
However on all of our above projects, our survey managers found the time to educate and teach our local survey assistants and by the end of the project, which was usually over an eighteen month timeline, we managed to get our team of assistants to a survey technician status. This enabled the management team to award certificates of attainment to each of our local survey assistants.
Our goal was then to find a position for our new survey technicians a job with the operations team and this has been achieved on all our projects to date.
All these major projects that we have been involved with were in very remote locations but there was always local villages and main towns within the vicinity of the project area. The mining company has a community engagement department and through various negotiations with all village chiefs and stakeholders, arranges to fill an agreed amount of jobs from each area.
AASG worked with the community and HR departments to come up with a list of candidates to interview and it was the HR departments responsibility to ensure all quotas were filled for each area.
This engagement with the local villages and village chiefs not only provided jobs to the local communities but brought prosperity to the region and reduced crime within the region as most families had at least one family member engaged on the project.
On all these projects, the mining company was welcomed because they got involved with the local communities and asked the local leaders what they needed in their local villages. The mining companies were always forthcoming and building much wanted infrastructure like schools, churches, drilling new water wells and provided roads within the area for the use of the local communities.
We still hear from our old survey team members from every country we have worked in and they are all incredibly grateful for the jobs we created for them and for transferring our knowledge onto them. Their communities have improved infrastructure from the mining companies input and their people are well educated from all the training AASG and the other companies involved in the project have passed onto them.
Industry and Workforce Capability Development
AASG not only provides experienced Project Surveyors that can complete the surveying tasks to western standards but also engage Surveyors who understand the importance of passing their knowledge on to the national surveyors.
AASG has developed a training package that assists the national surveyors to learn the latest technology in surveying equipment and then they are assessed in using the surveying equipment to its capacity. Upon passing this practical assessment, AASG has developed a certificate of attainment (see attached example) which is backed up and supported by the following professional organisations:
SSSi – Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute – is the national peak body catering for the professional people who make up the spatial information industry. SSSI gives a voice to the members of the spatial science community in both the national and international arena.
AIMS – Australian Institute of Mine Surveyors – provides professional representation to government, industry and educational organisations on mine surveying issues around Australia. … Membership is open to qualified mine surveyors, assistants and students from throughout Australia and overseas.
AAMEG – Australia Africa Minerals and Energy Group – is the peak body representing Australian companies engaged in the development of Africa’s resource industry.
The knowledge transfer from AASG and other mining professionals not only assists the individuals within the local area and the community surrounding the development but helps the whole nation by creating a Mining industry. In some countries the industry has already set up a school of mines who educates geologists, mining engineers and of course Mine Surveyors.
The Mining industry, from each of these countries, adds to the economic wealth of the country and provides opportunity to all the people within that nation.
AASG purchase the latest surveying equipment and software on behalf of our client and put in place training programs to train the local Senegalese, Burkinabe’s and Ivorian surveyors to use this latest surveying equipment.
This also includes the latest Drone (UAV) equipment from DJI and software which includes the latest Agisoft and Virtual Software to process all information from the imagery produced by the drone.
Using the latest technology, provides the opportunity to be more cost efficient and to be safer in the workplace for example, we utilise the latest robotic surveying equipment which means one surveyor can do the work of a team of two.
From a safety perspective, instead of putting our surveyors at risk by working around heavy machinery, drone technology is used, which means the same result is obtained and time taken to conduct this activity is halved.
Our latest innovation is to introduce laser scanning to enable the design of upgrading an existing processing plant and by adopting our quality assurance / control management systems to ISO9001: 2015 standards, we will provide our clients with the confidence in getting it right, the first time.
As another initiative, AASG has become a standard business sponsor (attached document), which allows our organisation to bring in African Surveyors to Australia on working visas. Our African surveyors can then build on their knowledge in Australia and then return to Africa to pass on this valuable experience to their colleagues.
We currently have our most talented Ghanaian Project Surveyor in Australia after arriving in November 2019 and he is excelling as a Project Surveyor in the Pilbara on multiple mine development projects.