SRK Consulting has repositioned itself to grow with Peru’s expanding mining industry through a merger with Lima-based firm, SVS Ingenieros.

SRK, one of the world’s largest diversified resources consulting groups, previously had an office in Peru but closed it in 2002 during the mining downturn. Group CEO Andy Barrett said SRK and SVS have enjoyed a strong working relationship for around 20 years.

"We have had quite a lot of work in Peru over the past five years or so and decided in 2010 to explore opportunities to re-establish SRK in Peru in order to better service our clients," he said. "SVS has a very strong position in the market, particularly with Peruvian companies, and they also do a lot of work for international companies."

Current projections indicate mining investment activity in Peru should continue growing by some $4bn a year over the next four to five years. The merger with SVS will enable SRK to gain "a foothold in Peru via an established base from which to add new services," says Barrett. "We aim to combine SVS’s strong capabilities in tailings, environment and rock mechanics with our mining and geology skills to serve our clients in Peru and augment our international teams, particularly in Latin America."

SRK opened an office in Mexico and a second office in Argentina in 2011, in addition to their offices in Chile and Brazil. Barrett comments, "In SRK, growth is seen as the result of doing the right things: attracting and retaining excellent professionals and providing reliable, value-adding services to our clients. All of our practices focus their strategies on becoming both the ’employer of choice’ for competent, ambitious professionals and the ‘consultant of choice’ for clients. SVS will be no different. If we can get these things right, we will perform profitably and grow."

SVS was founded in 1985 by Antonio Samaniego, Ernesto Valle and Carlos Soldi. The company initially provided services in geotechnical and underground engineering, mainly to the mining industry, with a staff of about 20 engineers and scientists. In 1998, following the approval of environmental legislation for mining activities in Peru, it expanded its services to the environmental field. From 2001 the range of services expanded to the design of mine tailings and waste facilities, and mine services and field construction supervision (including QA/QC). It now has about 130 staff.

About 90% of SVS’s current work is in Peru, with the remainder in Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia and Argentina. However, the merger with SRK may present more opportunities for the company outside Peru over the next two to three years.

The union will also expand the range of services to include mining engineering, geology and other specialised work. According to Barrett, there are good opportunities in Peru for mining/geology services. "We will need to find the right Peruvian professionals to get established in these areas," he said.

Recruiting experienced professionals remains one of the top challenges for the business, says SVS’s Carlos Soldi, who has more than 30 years’ experience in the industry.

SVS will retain its name initially but will change to SRK Consulting within five years.

"Our three key goals for the business over the next five years will be to consolidate our market in Peru and diversify the range of technical services we can offer our current clients; expand the number of clients to which we offer engineering services to increase the size of our current market share in Peru; and ensure our technical staff can profit from its interaction with SRK’s personnel and thus improve the quality of the consulting work we do."

SVS’s management team includes Carlos Soldi (civil and mining engineer, MSc in rock mechanics, and excavation engineering); Antonio Samaniego (civil and mining engineer, PhD in rock mechanics, with more than 30 years’ experience); Orlando Félix (engineering geologist with more than 25 years’ experience); Edwin Vásquez (civil engineer specialising in geotechnical engineering with more than 20 years’ experience); Catherina De Rycker (geologist specialising in environmental engineering with more than 20 years’ experience), Marco Espezúa (civil engineer specialising in hydraulic engineering with 20 years’ experience); and Osvaldo Aduvire (mining engineer, PhD in mining engineering, specialising in acid water treatment processes, with more than 20 years’ experience).

SRK Global will own 30% of SVS and senior SVS shareholders will hold an equivalent investment in SRK Global.