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Mining and Environmental Consulting Pioneers

Publication: Mining Review Africa
Issue: January 2018

Environment consulting specialist Knight Piésold is today recognised as the ‘consultant of choice’ in the mining sector – thanks largely to the skills sets and experience it has built up over almost a century (96 years to be exact). This has positioned the firm as a leader is its fields of expertise and enabled it to stay fully in tune with the changing needs of the countries and landscapes it operates in. This is highly pertinent to the mining industry and explains the company’s on-going success, despite the lingering economically challenging environment.

"To work with Knight Piésold is making the choice to work with a truly South African firm that is globally connected. We offer our clients the best people, the best value and the best service quality,” says MD Vishal Haripersad.

The company prides itself on being the oldest consulting firm in South Africa and also one of the oldest locally owned (100% South African owned and managed) firms on the continent. As a Level 2 black economic empowered firm and service provider (continuously since 2010), the company considers itself completely transformed. This has undeniably enabled it to cement its standing relationships in the mining sector in particular, which in many instances extends well beyond 40 years, says mining technical director Andrew Copeland.

“This speaks volumes about the nature and quality of work and the emphasis and priority we place on building relationships – which enables us to assist clients, understand what they need and provide the best value for money. This is incredibly important in an environment driven by the constant pressure to lower costs while improving services,” Haripersad highlights.

It is also over Knight Piésold’s lengthy establishment that it has been able to assert itself as a leader and pioneer in systems and technologies that enhance its service offering and deliver greater value-add to the industry. “We are leaders in specialised areas including mine residue, heap leach facilities, environmental impact assessments and geotechnical engineering. This means we are able to cover a broad range of areas that most engineering companies do not have in-house. This places us in a unique position and as such we want to continue specialising in these areas to ensure we maintain our front-leading place in the sector.”

Pioneers at heart
Knight Piésold pioneered cycloned tailings facilities, an initiative which although first introduced and implemented in the 1970s remains a widely used methodology today across the globe. “We are subsequently a leader in this field.”

No other engineering consultant designs and delivers siphon decant systems for tailings storage facilities either. The system allows water to decant off the facility using gravity and as such has minimal energy requirements and does not require the traditional outlet pipe exiting through or under the perimeter wall “which is frowned upon by certain clients / countries”. Having recently installed a system for a mining project in South Africa, Knight Piésold has been awarded a contract to deliver a similar installation to a project in Botswana. “The system has proven itself and some 20 years after its first installation in Phalaborwa is considered innovative. It is also gaining popularity as power costs (and interruptions) continue to challenge the mining sector,” Copeland highlights.

He continues, adding that the company is also a leader in developing cost effective solutions to protect ground water – another area gaining momentum and importance in the industry. This entails looking at plastic-alternative lining systems such as single to triple linings on hazardous facilities or even looking at managing ground water to prevent it from polluting the environment using abstraction systems to manage the ground water.

“The Department of Water Affairs in South Africa has indicated their desire to work with companies to find such cost effective solutions and alternatives.”

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