“Senegal’s mining potential is not as large as that of some of its neighboring countries. Nevertheless, the country is working hard to develop its mining sector and there is an accompanying demand for advanced tools and service companies operating at international standards.”
LABOSOL- AGTS was established 25 years ago. Could you introduce the company and outline its history in Senegal?
LABOSOL- AGTS is a Senegalese company located in Dakar and affiliated with the Apave Group, a French organization. We also have offices in Saint Louis to bring us closer to Mauritania, where we work with a number of mining companies. From Senegal, we collaborate with almost 15 sub-Saharan countries, including Mauritania, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone and Ghana. Some of our clients in the mining space include GB Minerals, IAMGOLD, Toro Gold, Knight Piésold, Kinross, SNIM and MCM to name a few. We are looking for further opportunities with infrastructure and mining projects. Our core areas of activity are geotechnical services, typography, bathymetry, drilling and quality control.
As recently as 2011, we had only five employees and operated just in Dakar. Our turnover has since increased twelve-fold, and we now have about 120 employees in Senegal, with 25 engineers working full time. By offering a broad range of services, we propose greater value to our customers in terms of solutions to a variety of challenges. In 2015, LABOSOL- AGTS became the first West African engineering company carrying out geotechnical and typography services with ISO 9001:2015 certification.
What are some of the solutions LABOSOL- AGTS commonly offers to its mining customers?
Our primary focus is risk management. For any type of infrastructure, a proper understanding of the ground is crucial. The materials we use to build on the ground can also be very expensive, so we can encounter financial risk alongside security risk. We use surveys and look at the ground composition; following analysis, we decide which solution to offer. Sometimes we face environmental challenges, like having petrol underground, so we need to conduct environmental and chemical analyses to properly counter these risks.
Is it more common for LABOSOL- AGTS to collect samples from mine sites or receive them from the company?
Both are possible, but we mostly go to the site ourselves to take samples for environmental and geotechnical studies and bring them back to our facility for analysis before proposing a solution. Sometimes we collect samples to analyze mineral potential – anything from phosphate to gold. Other clients bring us the sample for analysis. There are many logistical considerations according to the importance of quality and deadlines for mining companies.
Where do you expect to see most opportunity for LABOSOL- AGTS – from Senegal or its neighboring countries?
Senegal’s mining potential is not as large as that of some of its neighboring countries. Nevertheless, the country is working hard to develop its mining sector and there is an accompanying demand for advanced tools and service companies operating at international standards. The encouragement to develop equipment and logistics also benefits neighboring countries and includes training aspects to increase skills in the region. Senegalese companies are then in a very strong position to supply services to the region.
Many African countries send their mineral samples to Australia, Canada and South Africa for analysis. We want to supply this service locally to enable mining companies throughout West Africa to send their samples to us in Senegal rather than having to bring them out of Africa. We have a lot of opportunity as a private company in Senegal’s mining industry – when the government determines strategies it is our duty to contribute to the realization of these objectives. We have invested a lot in developing our services to the mining sector. Our three biggest countries of activity are currently Mauritania, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
What are the advantages of having a relationship with a large international company?
It can be advantageous to be part of a wider group. It is very beneficial to have the ability to share expertise. In the context of globalization, we find many companies operating in multiple countries, so it is profitable to be able to serve them across the board. Nevertheless, all LABOSOL- AGTS sites work independently, although adhering to the same quality standards and operating guidelines. The benefit is really having the network to sell and market to customers from a broader network.
What are the core objectives for driving LABOSOL- AGTS’ growth and expansion in West Africa?
We have a three-year strategic plan to develop our services and expand our geographic reach. Senegal is a very stable country but it is possible to have lulls in activity close to elections. As the presidential election approaches in 2019, it is likely that we will increase our activity in Mauritania, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau depending on available opportunities. We are also developing our service portfolio – we always start from Senegal and then roll these out to our sites in other countries. Our aim is to have engineers at all our sites and give them new tools and training as we progress.