"Maccaferri is working on a new plastic coating for our wires to increase their performance and lifespan and to make the product more environmentally friendly than the PVC we have been using. The Maccaferri Innovation Center (MIC) is continually working on innovations that will result in more sustainable and environmentally friendly products."
Can you provide a brief history of Maccaferri Group and the current structure of the company?
AG: Maccaferri Group is celebrating its 140-year anniversary in 2019. This milestone presents an opportunity for our group to be seen as an important player at global level. We have an international footprint of approximately 100 companies and 30 factories across five continents. Our objective is to be seen as a company that nurtures the world of tomorrow. This objective is equally important from both a civil and a mining point of view due to the challenges the environment is subjected to during civil and mining projects. Maccaferri has embraced the ISO mindset, and the ISO 14001 is one of the three standards that we comply with. We are very focused on health and safety, which are paramount within the mining industry.
We would like to be seen as part of the engineering and procurement supply chain. We work closely with mining clients to make mines cost-effective, to manage risk and to ensure that the execution of a project is carried out to the satisfaction of all parties. As their partner, Maccaferri can assist clients with the engineering and procurement components of the EPC/ EPCM business models, and we can provide specialist engineering solutions. We pride ourselves on our transparency, and if we are not able to provide a solution that is going to perform according to the client’s expectations, we would tell the client.
Can you provide more details on the company’s core offering?
AG: Maccaferri focuses on four main sectors. The first is the traditional and oldest sector: producing double twisted steel mesh gabion and mattresses for erosion control and retaining structures. The second sector is geosynthetics, which covers applications such as drainage, reinforcement, separation and filtration. The third sector is vertical walls, where we provide concrete solutions with concrete panels and mechanically stabilized embankments with geogrids. The fourth is the rockfall sector, which includes both civil and mining applications. Within the rockfall segment, we provide a number of solutions from both short-term projects to long term slope stabilizations.
MD: I deal mainly with rockfall activity, which is closely related to the health and safety of mine workers. We place emphasis on safety, but we also have to deliver solutions quickly, as a mine cannot afford to be closed. Maccaferri has a fast turn-around time in terms of delivering products to mining sites, as we have 30 production sites all over the world. All of our clients’ needs can be on site within two weeks.
How does Maccaferri evaluate a country for possible expansion opportunities?
AG: Maccaferri has an international presence, and we recognize that all countries do not have the same interests and risks. We will conduct a risk assessment to look at aspects such as socio-political stability and ease of conducting business. The results, which differ from year to year, highlight the countries where we will most likely acheive success in terms of product identification and business.
Environmental and social impact issues are today receiving more attention than they did five years ago. What are the challenges and possible solutions for mining closures?
AG: Maccaferri would like to get more involved in the closure of mines. Maccaferri has already assisted in mine closures, especially asbestos mine dumps close to rivers. The challenge that most mines face is whether funds are available for the closure of the mine. Mine closure is similar to a landfill site closure: if a solution cannot be identified and the financial support is not available, the surrounding areas can become contaminated. Solutions do exist if the minimum requirements needed for the successful environmental closure of those dump sites are put in place and the funds made available.
MD: Maccaferri is doing research to deliver more relevant products to the mining industry in regards to evironmental issues. For example, the company is working on a new plastic coating for our wires to increase their performance and lifespan and to make the product more environmentally friendly than the PVC we have been using. The Maccaferri Innovation Center (MIC) is continually working on innovations that will result in more sustainable and environmentally friendly products.
What are the advantages that Maccaferri enjoys due to its presence in multiple sectors and geographic spread across the world?
AG: One of Maccaferri’s competitive advantages is that we are a one-stop shop. The fact that we cover various segments, whereas most of our competitors only concentrate on one, gives us the possibility of interacting with our clients on various levels and being seen as the point of reference no matter what the clients’ operations entail. Clients gain more in their interactions with us if they engage with in all four segments of Maccaferri's offering. Our aim is to service clients for the entire duration of a project.
Chinese influence is growing across Africa. Does this pose a challenge for Maccaferri?
MD: Our company works with partners in China, and therefore we see the Chinese presence in Africa as an opportunity for our organization to strengthen ties with them. It is important for our clients and contractors to know that we do not only provide the products, but also offer the engineering and the knowledge of how to use these products.
Do you have a final message for our international readership?
MD: Maccaferri aims to continue providing engineering solutions, and we want to invite clients and consultants to talk to us as soon as possible. The earlier we get involved in the project cycle, the more significant the benefits for our clients.