GBR talks to Aden services who offer camp management and procurement services in the DRC.
J-SDB: ADEN Services has been very active in the DRC over the past 18 months and during this time we have secured several contracts with companies such as Ivanhoe Mines (Kipushi project) and Luna Mining. Right now, Kipushi is still in its beginning stages, but the operations are increasing. For Luna Mining, since they are already in production there, we are busy setting up the camp and the kitchen.
ADEN Services is also currently participating in a number of tenders for projects and furthermore, we are aiming to increase our participation in the north of the DRC as well as in the Kinshasa region. Due to severe infrastructure issues, these projects will be very tough to deal with logistically, but it is in the nature of our business and expertise to deal with these kinds of obstacles. Katanga, on the other hand, has seen dramatic improvements in terms of infrastructure over the last years and if we would have this sort of development everywhere in the DRC, we would be far better off.
Looking beyond catering services, ADEN Services is diversifying its area of expertise with a new trading and procurement division: we have the knowledge of what is needed on the sites of mining camps in terms of kitchen equipment, security solutions and PPE (helmets, glasses, safety shoes etc.) and we have the means of procuring them at very advantageous prices. ADEN Services headquarters are in Shanghai, and since we are a leading security company in China, we have a direct line of communication with all the factories that produce PPE (personal protective equipment). Negotiations are done on the basis of factory prices and between Chinese parties, with the end result being that we are able to offer these products at highly discounted prices. Here, in the DRC, we are even opening a showroom for this product offering where mining companies and local traders can come and have a look for themselves.
What is the relative importance of the mining industry to ADEN Services’ business in the DRC at the moment and what are the other markets within Africa that the company is looking at developing?
J-SDB: At the moment, 70% of our revenue in the DRC comes from the mining business, 30% from procurement. ADEN Services is now registered in Zambia, where we have good prospects for a major mining project that will involve more than 4,000 people. We are also based in Guinea and Sierra Leone and seeing some opportunities in Congo Brazzaville. The DRC is currently acting as a hub for all the explorations that we are doing in Central Africa but once operations get going in these other countries, ADEN Services will be opening separate offices for them.
Developing local talent and engaging the population of Katanga in the business activities generated by the mining industry is goal set by both the companies’ themselves and the local authorities. How is ADEN Services acting on these fronts?
J-SDB: ADEN Services has about 20% expats and 80% Congolese in its workforce in the DRC at the moment. It is very important for us to source labor locally because the talent is here, and all these people need are organizations that can push them to learn to better themselves. Our camp manager at Kipushi is Congolese – he studied in South Africa, and after accumulating invaluable experience in one of our projects, he was put in charge of this very important job. We regularly bring experts from our headquarters in China to train our people and monitor their progress: having Congolese employees is a positive aspect not just for us but for our customers as well, who want to involve the local population as much as they can as part of their CSR policies.
On the CSR front, ADEN Services is now helping to rehabilitate the Baka School in the outskirts of Lubumbashi. Meanwhile, at our MMG camp, we are now proud to say that 100% of the vegetables we need are sourced from the villages around Kinsevere. ADEN Services developed also a partnership with Eco-livelihoods, an organization that is now working with companies such as Tiger to educate their respective local communities on how to properly farm the lands. It is essential for these farmers understand more about how to manage their business and open a bank account, and how to reinvest their earnings.
The development of Katanga’s mining industry has led to increased competition among its service providers. What does the competitive landscape look like for ADEN Services, how do you stand out in the crowd and what are the future perspectives for the company in the DRC?
J-SDB: We are seeing more and more competition in our market segment in the DRC and nowadays there are around 10 companies on the market, as opposed to three or four several years ago. ADEN Services’ advantage is that we are here since 2007, before the crisis happened, and we stayed on the market even during the rough days, getting the expertise and knowledge necessary to deal with DRC’s complicated business environment. We have an established presence and we work heavily with Congolese talent, which makes us more of a local Congolese company than some of the others in the market. Add to that the global expertise that our worldwide operations give us, and you see that we are in a solid position to continue our growth. For the future, we aim to be active in two fields in the DRC: in offering full camp management services and in procurement and logistics. ADEN Services has mastered local food sourcing in the country, and we are keeping our prices low while engaging the community. Finally, our Chinese base allows our trading and procurement arm to be able to offer quality products at a low cost for our clients.
This interview was conducted as part of the research conducted on African mining jurisdictions by Global Business Reports (GBR) as part of our partnership with African Mining Indaba LLC. The aim of this partnership is the production of the single most comprehensive intelligence report on the continent’s mineral sector. The Official Mining in Africa Country Investment Guide, will be launched next February 2014, as the only official publication providing country-specific information at Africa’s top mining event, the 2014 Investing in Africa Mining Indaba™ held in Cape Town, South Africa.