The role of quantity surveying in the rehabilitation of South Africa's asbestos mines
Global programme management and construction consultancy Turner & Townsend is providing quantity surveying expertise as part of a government programme to close and rehabilitate 660 abandoned asbestos mines and shafts in South Africa.
The rehabilitation programme falls under the Department of Mineral Resources, which appointed Mintek - a global leader in minerals processing and metallurgical engineering products and services, to provide the professional project management.
SRK Consulting has taken the engineering design lead on these projects over the past three years, as a sub-contractor to Mintek, delivering the conceptual design, final design, quality control and project management. Chosen for its international track record and world-leading expertise, Turner & Townsend has been selected by SRK as one of the teams supporting the on-going government programme.
So far, Turner & Townsend has provided quantity surveying services for nine abandoned asbestos mines across the region with three of them now closed, and is involved with further six sites, and more potential projects are in the pipeline.
Gordon Bulmer, Senior Quantity Surveyor for Turner & Townsend, said: “It is a privilege to work on projects of this nature and scale, which will make a difference to the health and safety of communities and the environments surrounding the mines. Apart from the well-researched health issues of asbestosis, a chronic lung disease, some of the mines are located next to water courses which pose further environmental and health risks.”
“The projects vary in complexity, therefore a key requirement of being awarded the bid for the asbestos mines was our ability to provide the highest standard of quantity surveying expertise in a flexible and agile way. SRK Consulting’s confidence in our professionalism is testimony of our global reputation in this field.
“While each mine site is different, the quantity surveyor in this particular government rehabilitation programme plays a key role– both in terms of advance planning as well as control or containment of costs throughout the projects.”
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”