Read the latest interview with President of Americas, Stan Wholley who shares his insights on mining and exploration in the latest April 2019 Global Business Report for Canada.
Can you give a brief overview of yourself, CSA Global and the company’s operations?
I am a geologist with more than 25 years’ experience and currently a Director of CSA Global and President of the Americas. I have operational responsibility for North, Central and South America. In 2016, CSA Global purchased A.C.A Howe International, a consulting business with more than 50 years of operational history in Canada and internationally. Our merger provided the opportunity to establish an office in Toronto, and I volunteered to come to Canada and integrate the acquisition into our broader global business while growing our American-focused business.
CSA Global provides technical and expert services, training
and independent corporate advice to the mining industry
We have two offices in Canada, one in Vancouver and one in Toronto, as well as offices in Perth, Brisbane, Darwin, Kalgoorlie, Horsham (UK), Dublin, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Singapore and Dubai. From these operational bases, we deliver high-end geological and mining solutions to our clients across all mineral commodities and all stages of the mining cycle. This can be anything from regional targeting studies, through to mineral resources estimation, mine design, feasibility studies or operational improvement once a mine is developed. In addition to our technical consulting and because of our deep talent pool, we are often asked to undertake corporate-facing work, such as due diligence, asset valuation and strategy development. Our company has a 35-year history of delivering high-quality outcomes for our clients in the global context. We have a solid reputation in Australia, Asia, Europe and Africa, and we would like to achieve the same success in Canada. We plan to advance Canadian offices to a robust operational position delivering the same high-quality services we are known for in our other operational areas. We have already seen success in Canada, with both offices doubling in size over the last two years. We are now at the point where we will commence looking to open an office in Latin America.
Given CSA Global’s size and work across a broad range of commodities, how affected is the company by the mining cycles?
CSA Global is a geological, mining and technological consulting company servicing the mining industry, and thus we are always impacted by the cyclical nature of mining finance. In 2009, the company made a conscious effort to expand our business regionally to mitigate some of the risks associated with the mining cycles. Regional diversification has significantly helped us to decrease impacts and uncertainty, but our diversified commodity portfolio also plays a significant role in mitigating impacts. We have also expanded our business over a range of disciplines and took a conscious effort to grow our mineral resource estimating business, established a mining engineering business, as well as a data and technology business. Being diversified in different disciplines helps to spread the risks.
Can you elaborate on the lack of interconnectivity between the exploration part and the mining part of operations, creating an overall silo issue?
In our business, we see it as a continuum from discovery through to mine closure, and we place a strong focus on collaboration across our disciplines and operating regions to ensure silos do not form. When we do ‘good’ exploration, we ensure the understanding is passed to the mineral resource team. This team can then develop a robust resource model based on strong geological understanding, and we can ensure our models are well suited to mining, in turn allowing our engineers to do their job well. Our engineers value the input from geologists, as they understand that to be successful in mining, you have to understand geology.
However, it does often happen that there is a lack of interconnectivity between exploration and mining. Junior exploration companies make a discovery and focus on resource and exploration data. This project then gets handed off to someone else to do the engineering parts of the project, and the people who are then building the mine are not using the exploration data as well as they could. It is important for CSA Global to have an integrated geoscience approach, where we consider all the data and try to bring as much of it in and carry it through the project. As projects are progressed, it is also essential to bring in the more advance stage data as to refine the model.
Does CSA Global see significant opportunity for the company within the battery industry?
If we look back a decade or so, specialty metals or industrial minerals were not a big part of CSA Global’s business and contributed less than 1% of the company’s revenue; in comparison, it now accounts for approximately 12% of our revenue. As the stored energy and electric vehicle industries began to grow, we saw an opportunity to grow our business and hired several specialists who had spent their career in industrial minerals; it was not long before opportunities developed and CSA Global became more involved in this segment. We started doing more work in the graphite, lithium, vanadium and cobalt commodities and continued our operations in the manganese, nickel and copper segments. We firmly believe that this will be an extended area of growth as the broader market seeks more sustainable energy sources and cleaner technologies.
What has changed over the last 10 years with regards to CSA Global’s approach?
As consultants, CSA Global aims always to be aware of what is new to the market and uses these trends to add value to clients’ projects. As the company has expanded globally, we have had to manage our global business. This has been achieved through uptake in IT and technology, and we have established Ever Nimble as an independent technology company. We are very strong on collaboration across our business, and we have many tools that make global collaboration possible. CSA Global has a global corporate network, and we have built our intranet to encourage global collaboration. Over the last few years, we have unified our systems and bought all our offices up to the same level of services.
Do you have a final message for our international readership?
It is a great time in the mining industry, and we have seen year on year improvement from 2016. Canada has struggled with a significant amount of investment leaving the mining industry and entering emerging markets such as cannabis and cryptocurrencies. We believe that as the mining industry recovers, more investment will start to flow back into mining. CSA Global remains positive about the opportunities that still lies within the Americas.
About Stan Wholley
Stan is a geologist and a manager with 25 years’ experience in exploration and mining geology. As President of the Americas, Stan is focused on ensuring that our network of staff and associates across the globe work collaboratively to achieve best outcomes for our clients. As a principal-level consultant, Stan provides high-level advice on a diverse range of topics from project management, valuations and geo-corporate strategy relating to ASX, TSX and LSE/AIM reporting and compliance. He has strong experience in iron ore and base metal geology, together with demonstrated expertise in delivering high-quality outcomes from discovery through to resource development and training.