Article first published in GBR Brazil Mining 2023 edition. Reprinted with permission.
What is Ausenco’s footprint in Brazil?
Today, we have a team of close to 300 people, with approximately 30 projects in execution in different phases with various clients and commodities. Ausenco is more than 30 years old and entered Brazil in 2004. Since then, we have purchased companies such as PSI, a pipeline engineering company, Sandwell, a transportation and logistics company, and Vector, a geotechnical company. Today, we provide solutions from pit to port across different project phases. We are partners to our clients, present from project initiation until the end. We work together with junior companies providing robust studies that are the base for finding investors. At the same time, we offer our expertise to established clients who need support in green and brownfield projects, always finding a better way.
Can you elaborate on Ausenco’s offerings?
A close relationship with clients helps us understand the demands and needs for work to be performed, allowing us to offer innovative solutions. Our pipeline group provides clients with opportunities to monitor and safely maintain their pipelines as well as new complex pipeline projects. We work on transportation and logistics, focusing on ports, railways, and all areas linked to material handling. Our asset optimization team ensures that our clients obtain the maximum value from their assets.
In addition, Ausenco is active in the sustainability area. In Brazil, we are bringing in new technologies for tailings and water management, supported by our global experts. ESG is in the DNA of Ausenco. Since the company began, we have focused on finding a better way in terms of process, design, and project execution. We find a better way in everything that we do. Our fit for purpose designs use less materials and energy, less steel and concrete, and demonstrate the extent to which we reduce the use of resources. We are looking at increasing resilience and constructing our plants to minimize footprints.
How is the energy transition changing demand?
The metals market has transitioned towards different commodities required for the energy transition. The need for battery materials is driving the mining business. More than 70% of the projects that we have today support the energy transition. Net Zero is a challenge that requires a great deal of innovation to solve the mine-to-market shortage of metals. We have clients across gold, lithium, copper, niobium, graphite, and other base metals commodities. We are also working on projects for battery recycling. It’s going to take a lot of minerals and a lot of smart thinking to sustainably deliver on our ambitions.
This year, we plan to grow by 30%. The main lever for that are the new commodities required for batteries. I see this as the future for Brazil in terms of metals considering that we are already one of the main iron ore producers. A few years ago, when speaking about mining in Brazil, it was all about iron ore. Now, projects in different commodities have become feasible and viable and will support the world in the energy transition and decarbonization.
What do you observe in the Brazilian market regarding adaptations to new technologies?
Mining today must be viewed from a different perspective. There is a focus on water management technology. The traditional way is no longer the basis for Ausenco or our clients. For example, we are now talking about recycling batteries. We are looking at projects using existing batteries to remove the metals and produce new ones. New technologies are now available, and how they are used matters. Our challenge for incorporating technology is to look at the process rather than piece by piece.
How are mining requirements shifting?
The demand for metals and battery metals necessary for decarbonizing the world is growing. Therefore, our clients expect a new approach to projects, technologies to reduce the carbon footprint of mines and increase in project profitability. Ausenco is known to embrace new technologies that help reduce energy and water consumption, change how process waste is disposed, reduce project footprints, and minimize the impact on the environment and local communities. We incorporate these ideas and concepts into our studies to guide project execution and commissioning. One of our unique advantages is being a multidisciplinary company with a 100% focus on mining.
What are your expectations for Ausenco in Brazil in the coming years?
Brazil is a vast country, and when we talk about mining, the numbers in play are in the billions. There will be US$50 billion invested in Brazilian mining in the next five years, an average of US$10 billion annually. The global market for battery metals is unbelievable. The challenge for Ausenco is determining how we will support our clients and meet their needs. The demand and the market are here. Brazil can become one of the primary providers of rare earths, and we are working with our partners to achieve it.
We offer a different perspective, constantly seeking innovative solutions. We see Ausenco as an essential player in the Brazilian market. We expect to grow while maintaining the same quality and providing consistent value to our clients resulting in a strong partnership. These partnerships are a win-win for our clients, Ausenco, and the world, which benefits from our sustainable solutions.
Questions? Please contact Leonardo Pena.