Ghana’s Gold Standard
Rocksure International has been providing the full value chain of mining services for more than a decade, rising from humble beginnings into a 1,000-strong, Ghanaian-led enterprise
Writer: Tom Wadlow | Project Manager: Josh Mann
Gold mining has long been a staple economic activity in Ghana.
Historical sources show that gold was mined in West Africa as early as the fifth century, well before European settlers began to monopolise the trade during the colonial era.
And while it is uncertain when exactly gold mining began in Ghana specifically, it continues to be the nation’s most significant domestic revenue generator. In 2017, for instance, total mining fiscal receipts paid to the Ghana Revenue Authority stood at around $370 million, up 31 percent on the previous year.
This illustrious history and relative stability of the current marketplace make Ghanaian mining an attractive proposition for organisations and individuals to pursue opportunities.
For instance, Rocksure International established itself as a provider of mining services in the country just over 10 years ago.
Through execution of a local-oriented strategy, the company has built up considerable capacity and flexibility for implementing measures to meet the challenges of planning, equipping and staffing various mining sites, with operations also in Mali.
For Fabian Limberger, Chief Commercial Officer and one of very few expatriates managing the company, the chance to explore this industry was too good to turn down.
With a background in finance and investment (in particular with mergers and acquisitions), Limberger worked for civil and mechanical engineering companies before joining Rocksure International nine years ago, his previous role being in Ghana with a firm which his current employer has shares in.
“Honestly speaking, I knew little about the mining industry before joining Rocksure,” he recalls. “I realised very quickly that the sector has splendid opportunities for finance professionals to thrive and to apply their knowledge from various angels.
“The business case of Rocksure International as I saw it in particular then – and also still do now – provided a fascinating opportunity for me.”
The fact Limberger is one of few non-Ghanaian professionals operating and managing the company is a source of tremendous pride, Rocksure growing from humble origins into an organisation that employs in excess of 1,000 people today.
It is a busy operation, the company able to offer services covering RC drilling, production drilling and blasting, load and haul operations, ROM pad management, and much more besides – its fleet consists of 105 units of major equipment, from 40-tonne articulated trucks to 150-tonne ridged dump trucks.
Rocksure operates at 19 production drill rigs and works for three major mining clients in Ghana, activity which saw it move around 24 million bank cubic metres (BCM) and drill in excess of two million metres last year.
“Since last year we have also been part of a joint venture with our majority partner AUMS to provide underground mining services for Anglo Gold Ashanti Limited in Obuasi,” Limberger adds. “This has thereby enabled us to enter into this separate market segment of mining.”
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This new venture is testament to the reputation built up over 10 years of operations in Ghana.
“Rocksure seeks to provide first-class service to our clients, delivering on all the needs and requirements in a cost-effective way without compromising on quality, safety and the environment,” the CCO continues.
“We thrive to enhance our clients’ capacity to sustain and guarantee the social licence they operate with. Due to our excellent mining practices, our clients often win annual awards such as the best mining company organised by the Chamber of Mines of Ghana.”
What particularly stands out, for Limberger, is Rocksure’s adherence to internationally recognised best practices while being a truly native West African company.
This combination of global quality and local knowhow is made possible by the firm’s greatest asset – its people.
“We have wonderful staff,” Limberger says. “The core team in management roles and quite a high number of staff have been with the company continuously from the outset.
“Recently in our 10-year anniversary celebration, so many employees were given awards for their dedicated service to the company. One can indeed feel that there is a certain pride to prove the capabilities of an often so called ‘local’ firm.”
To further help recognise the contribution of staff and operate organisational communications more effectively, Rocksure has just implemented a new HR management system, run on software which helps the company to individualise relationships with employees.
For example, it will ensure birthdays and important anniversary milestones are always celebrated. And while these might seem like small gestures, for Limberger it helps to define a positive company culture.
“I personally think that such gestures carry some weight in terms of employee satisfaction and loyalty,” he adds.
“Beyond those, we are constantly improving our capability to career plan for employees within our organisation. We invest into training and upgrading skills, and we are pleased to state that our remuneration structure, benefits and general working conditions are competitive in this international labour market.”
Built on partnership
Equally as important to Rocksure’s success and standing are relations with people outside of the organisation, be it external partners or members of the wider community who are supported by its operations.
Limberger is quick to highlight the indispensable role of suppliers, many of which have been loyal over many years, offering their creativity and support in times of difficulty and in turn acknowledging that Rocksure is itself a reliable, dependable business partner.
“Our success would not be possible without the support of many of our partners,” the CCO comments. “Notwithstanding our expressed gratitude, I wish to state – with tongue in cheek – that an element of competition always helps to keep everybody awake. In business, everybody must deliver and perform well to remain in the game.”
Communities more widely are also important stakeholders in Rocksure’s activities.
Not only do they provide the supply of certain goods, on-site catering being one such example, over time the firm has trained many men and women to become qualified professionals in numerous disciplines across the organisation.
That Rocksure is able to support livelihoods and benefit the lives of so many Ghanaian families is a source of pride for Limberger, all adding to the key message that the company is 100 percent local.
“Our mission statement is ‘to foster indigenous participation in the exploitation of national resources for effective development’, and we really mean that,” he says.
This will no doubt guide Rocksure’s future development. Indeed, the company is looking to enjoy another successful 10 years of operations as it enters the next chapter of its development in Ghana and further afield, Limberger revealing that a series of meetings are underway to identify and prioritise objectives for the near and medium term.
Concluding the conversation, he says: “It is a reality of being a contractor that one can’t always pick and choose as one would like.
“We are grateful to have been entrusted with the work that we are undertaking, and we are determined to continue delivering and improving. Our hope is that this will also allow us to win further jobs to secure the longevity of our company beyond the signed lifespan of our current projects.”