The origins of CSA Group can be traced to a single mining consultancy team that was formed in Dublin, Ireland back in 1984. Two years later, the company exported its services to the other side of the world by setting up a branch in Perth, Western Australia, before continuing to expand in the Australian market throughout the 1990s. However, the group’s reputation was forged back in Ireland after assisting in the discovery of the large scale Lisheen zinc deposit in 1990. At the turn of the century, CSA began a wide-reaching diversification strategy incorporating new services in new commodities and regions, which spawned the rebranding of the company to its current name CSA Global in 2008. Today, the group has 12 offices in eight countries around the world and provides the full suite of consulting services to mining companies focused on almost all mineral commodities.
CSA Global offers a uniquely integrated set of services in the areas of corporate, mining, resources, exploration, technology, data and water management. These services cover all aspects of the mining value chain, and are utilised by clients around the world, and delivered via CSA Global’s regional teams.
“The fundamental unique service proposition that sets us apart from our competitors is that we take a whole company approach. We are a group that has teams and offices all around the world, but we are strongly collaborative at all levels within our business,” says CSA Global’s Galen White.
“The regional teams are fully integrated globally, which allows us to put the very best personnel onto projects wherever they are, and our clients value that. It’s about working in haloes rather than in silos.”
As the company’s director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, White’s job is to ensure clients are serviced holistically across the region and that the company’s global standards are being met.
“I am intimately involved with the majority of our clients in the region and guide our global and local expertise into projects over the full life of mine. A key part of my job is also to strengthen existing relationships.”
CSA Global has been involved in the African mining industry since its inception in 1984, and over the last 35 years the company has made a point to continually develop its understanding of the cultural diversity, political background, sovereign risk, workforce and technical capability of the countries it works in.
These factors combine to produce a set of challenges that are unique to each jurisdiction, and White breaks down these challenges into two categories: Technical and jurisdictional.
Technical challenges faced by mining companies on the African continent include infrastructural deficiencies, extreme weather conditions – such as monsoons and droughts – and a lack of skilled labour in remote locations.
Jurisdictional challenges relate to government policies, which can change rapidly and dramatically differ from one country to the next across Africa. Tax and royalty rates are a huge consideration for mining companies, along with social policies such as sustainability.
“Clearly these factors pose a challenge to mining companies operating in Africa, but they take on those challenges because the continent is so well endowed with minerals. We try to provide up-to-date advice for our clients with African projects,” says White.
“We service the African continent from multiple offices as our listed clients can be on the LSE or AIM, the TSX, ASX or elsewhere. Our Horsham and Dublin offices are heavily involved in the West African market and our Johannesburg office is well placed to support our clients across sub-Saharan Africa.”
Thriving in West Africa
During the last five years, West Africa has evolved into the continent’s leading region for mining activity. A combination of favourable geology that is underexplored, pro-mining governments and decreasing perceived risk has seen investor confidence in the region dramatically improve, which has contributed to impressive exploration and production growth in this time.
CSA Global has worked in West Africa throughout its history, and the region has continually provided opportunities for diversification and growth of the company. This is dominantly through the company’s involvement with numerous gold projects located within the vast Birimian Greenstone belts that snakes through West Africa.
But, CSA Global’s work is not limited to gold in West Africa and they have worked on a variety of non-gold projects including base metals, steel minerals, special metals, industrial minerals and energy projects.
“West Africa has grown to become a significant region of revenue growth for CSA Global, in particular offering opportunities to provide integrated services across the exploration, evaluation, development and operations life cycle,” says White.
“In the last five years we’ve been able to develop long-term client relationships and leverage expanded services from early stage activities such as exploration and resource work to mining and feasibility studies. A big part of our activity in the region is providing operational support as well as improvement works. We have several long-term clients there that we continue to help in that space as well.”
CSA Global has worked closely with several significant West African gold players over the last few years. In Ghana, the company provides operational support work to Asanko Gold, and provides a suite of services to Avesoro Resources in Burkina Faso and Liberia.
Furthermore, CSA Global has completed exploration procedural reviews and sampling reviews for mid-tier gold producer Endeavour Mining’s operations across the region. The company’s mining services team has also assisted Hummingbird Resources in Mali for several years now.
“We also do a lot of technical reviews for mergers and acquisitions (M&A) work and technical reporting for juniors listed on the AIM or TSX that operate in West Africa.”
Future growth opportunities
In West Africa, CSA Global takes the view that the region will continue to grow at a steady rate over the next 10 years, and the company plans to continue nurturing that growth by supporting existing clients, strengthening relationship and forging new business ties across the region.
“We have been quite successful in leveraging our experience from the projects that we’ve worked on to develop new business with others operating in the region. We’re continually developing the relationships with the West African junior miners, particularly those listed in London.”
CSA Global also sees plenty of opportunities in the central/Southern Africa region, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The DRC is home to the world’s largest reserves of copper-cobalt and therefore could provide a strong pipeline of work, as global demand for battery metals continues to intensify.
From a services perspective, the company plans to further expand its offerings in water management services, having added a team of experienced hydrogeologists and hydrologists last year. CSA Global believes that water management opportunities will continue to increase, particularly in Africa which has issues both with water scarcity and flooding.
“We’ve got a strong global team supporting operational mines as well, certainly in the areas of mine geology, geometallurgy, mine engineering and hydrogeology. The key to our future growth is being proactive in trying to develop relationships early on and partner with our clients throughout the life of mine process,” says White.
CSA Global’s director for Europe, Middle East and Africa concludes by highlighting the strong fundamentals underpinning the contemporary global mining industry and reaffirms the company’s view of a continued upward trend in the sector.
“There’s certainly been increased spending and increased finance available for good projects. We’ve been seeing an increase in M&A work. Commodity prices are improving, and there is strong investor demand in gold, base metals and battery metals.
“There is still a little way to go in terms of improving on-the-ground spending, but here at CSA Global we’ve improved year-on-year since the downturn and we currently have a strong pipeline of consultancy work around the world.”