The De Beers Group started excavation work on an underground extension to its Venetia Mine in South Africa in 2013. The new development is expected to extend the life of the mine to 2046 and deliver about 96 million carats in diamonds.
The US 2.1 billion project is the biggest investment in the South African diamond mining industry in decades and is expected to be in full production in 2025. Around 1 500 jobs have already been created in construction. The company currently operates an open pit mine employing 3 731, of whom 1 411 are DBCM employees and 2 320 are full time contractors providing specific services and skills. The underground project will include employees who transfer from the open pit to the underground mining systems while the future mine will use the current plant to process ore.
A project of this scope requires experienced and reliable partners and De Beers assigned the Quantity Surveying and Contract Management to Professional Cost Consultants (PCC), with Murray & Roberts Cementation as the contractor. Similarly, a multi-year endeavour like this requires tight control of costs and all the equipment, parts and labour required through the various phases of the project. To accomplish these goals, Organisations need a reliable and proven project management platform able to effectively and transparently deal with every aspect of the project and provide in-depth reports.
For the Venetia project, the Candy Estimating & Project Control Software from CCS Mining & Industrial was chosen. CCSMI is a distributor of Candy to the mining industry and a part of the EOH Group of companies. The software is a multi-faceted, all-inclusive project control solution which caters for different scenarios and industries. It is also able to integrate and exchange data with a host of common business applications.
Joe de Klerk, Managing Director at CCS Mining & Industrial, explains that clients use CCSMI’s software for the full project life cycle, from the feasibility study through to project estimates, project planning and management, right through to completion. It is a 32-bit Windows application and runs on all modern Windows operating systems, either in stand-alone or networked mode, as well as on Windows Terminal Services and Citrix.
Simplified control of complex projects
Murray & Roberts Cementation’s Allan Widlake says Candy is a “fantastic estimating tool for large and complicated projects”, as it contains and controls all aspects of the project, saving all parties involved time and avoiding the frustrating miscommunications one often sees on large projects.
“Candy is a norm for us,” says Widlake. “There is no job that goes out of this office where Candy is not used. What’s also nice is that Candy has a good record keeping facility that records every change that is made. This assists us to understand changes made to estimates over time and to see who was responsible.”
Prenesh Reddy, also with Murray & Roberts Cementation, adds that Candy is a great valuation tool. “We use it for forecasting revenues; it is a very accurate and detailed way of getting that done.”
A single platform for the entire project
De Beers’ Mining Engineer, Mervin Smit, adds that since all the contractors on the Venetia project were using Candy, De Beers followed suit to ensure everyone was on the same standardised platform. This made project estimation control much easier. Candy can export and import data from many applications, including Excel.
Another benefit, attributed to Candy is the speed of the application and the detailed data one can extract from the platform for interrogation and analysis.
Detail and transparency was the selling point for PCC says Kyle Kemp, Associate at PCC. As the contract manager, PCC needed a system that offered seamless integration and speedy access to relevant information to ensure everything was on track. Candy is a repository of all project-related information and the designers made it simple to access whatever information is required.
Time savings are also impressive in Candy. “We used to spend twice as long checking information as compared to measuring it before we used Candy. Now these times are reversed and PCC is able to spend more time servicing the client constructively rather than checking information. “
Saving time and money
A benefit of Candy is that it saves you time, which translates into cost savings at the end of the day. Reddy says that because the Venetia project is so complex, there are four sub-projects in JD Edwards, Murray & Roberts’ financial system. With all the data in Candy correctly coded to the right sub-project, the information is right there and easily available.
This is also an example of Candy’s integration capabilities. While the platform provides one reporting framework for the full project, the data is easily split into the four sub-projects, which are then seamlessly loaded into JD Edwards. It is similarly just as easy to take output from JD Edwards and transfer it into Candy.
“What would have taken me a day or two now takes a maximum of four hours with Candy,” Reddy notes. The Venetia project is one of the bigger more complicated projects around, so I can’t imagine how I would be able to manage it to the same level of detail and with the same speed and accuracy if I didn’t have Candy.”
Added to that, he says the flexibility of the system ensures it can deal with almost any situation and environment. This ability to adapt is crucial in large projects where costs and labour need to be strictly controlled from day one.
Data consistency is also something Widlake appreciates. “There is standardisation in the processes within Candy in that you can load something once in terms of worksheets, data files, labour and so on. The system then makes sure that the changes are reflected globally so that everyone is working off the same information immediately. The time saved in this feature alone is incredible when one considers the number of people in different locations using the system daily.”
This is only one of the competitive advantages Candy delivers. Widlake adds that another is the ability to provide concise information when queries come through. When asked for clarification after sending an account, for example, Candy empowers Murray & Roberts Cementation to answer quickly and in detail, because Candy stores all the data relating to each step of the project.
The Venetia underground project is a complex, multi-year project that incorporates different companies working on different phases at the same time. Using Candy as the main Project Estimating tool (the estimation is a significant portion of the expansion capital) not only assists in producing clear Project goals and helping the management team to not just adhere to them, but to achieve them more accurately and efficiently with more control. It also saves time when it comes to generating accurate reports and keeping administrative chores on track.