Murray & Roberts Cementation has appointed a qualified geologist to join its team. Martin Bevelander, who joined the company in January, holds a BSc Honours in geology from RAU and has 20 years’ experience in mining exploration project management.

He has extensive experience in the mining exploration environment, and has worked for high-profile mining houses including Goldfields, JCI, Durban Roodepoort Deep and Anglo Platinum prior to joining Murray & Roberts Cementation.

The company’s move in recruiting an in-house geologist is somewhat unusual for a mining contracting operation, but has been driven by a number of strategic factors.

"The international exploration environment has changed in terms of environmental aspects, client expectations and the general exploration standard," comments Bevelander. "It is necessary for companies to address these topics, as well as embrace new technologies, both in drilling and the general geophysical exploration environment."

In the current business environment, the need to have the exploration drilling company integrated into an exploration project as a whole, adding support and technical advice, has become more necessary.

"In fact, the latest trend internationally is to have the exploration drilling team not as a contractor but as part of the exploration team," Bevelander points out.

His appointment will have a number of benefits for Murray & Roberts Cementation in terms of the expertise he will bring to its operation with his thorough knowledge of geology and understanding of exploration projects.

He will endeavour to keep the company in line with international standards in terms of the safety and environmental issues that exist around exploration drilling, as well as to facilitate an understanding of client expectations and of how to optimise exploration drilling programmes.

Having an in-house geologist will allow the company to understand critical aspects of exploration drilling programmes in a pre-emptive way, giving the contractor an edge in terms of project planning, optimisation and timing of exploration drilling activities.

In terms of clients’ expectations, Bevelander points out that the modern exploration client is more demanding in the level of technical expertise they expect from a contractor, as well as in the levels of accuracy to which they expect a project to be managed.

"Timing in exploration these days is of critical importance. Companies are often faced with tight project feasibility study deadlines and the lack of good technical understanding can often result in time delays," he notes.

Bevelander reports: " Murray & Roberts Cementation is in the process of upgrading its fleet of exploration drill rigs to fill this need in the market. To this end, we committed a significant amount of capital expenditure towards the acquisition of six new, state-of-the-art, fully automated hydraulic surface exploration drill rigs. During late 2005 to early 2006 we took delivery of four LF 90s and two LF 230 Boart Longyear rigs. By acquiring state-of-the-art drilling technology, and focusing on its expertise in directional drilling and exploration drilling management as a whole, we will continue to be at the forefront of exploration drilling in this region of the planet."

He continues: "We are also looking forward to enhancing our standing and competitiveness within the larger exploration fraternity internationally, and expanding our previous expertise, which was in deep exploration drilling, into the shallower drilling, more dynamic exploration environment as well."

"We are in the process of bringing on board three-dimensional tomography, which will support and significantly optimise development and sinking of new shafts, and could potentially lead to significant time saving in project development," he says. Bringing on board expertise of a geological nature will position the company to make the best use of this technology.

The company’s drive to expand its drilling activities even further into Africa culminates in the dynamic combination of the most advanced technology and capable manpower, of which Murray & Roberts Cementation has great depth.

Variable geological circumstances necessitate different and unique technical approaches towards exploration drilling, the success of which hinges on the smooth integration with the clients’ expectations.

In addition to the technical and geological aspects of the job, Bevelander’s interest is in the efficient management and optimisation of drilling programmes, with a view to providing clients with a top quality product, timeous delivery and any additional geological support they may require.

His presence in the company could also position it to offer a one-stop exploration service to clients in the long term. He views part of his personal challenge in the position as aiding the change management process with the fresh perspective he can bring in focusing on and developing long-standing relationships with clients, based on professional service and technical excellence, as well as in bringing the different disciplines together. His philosophy is simple… "Do it professionally and technically correctly - first time round."