For more than 15 years, SFA (Oxford) has been unrivalled as a global commodity authority on platinum-group metals and is a specialist on battery raw materials supply and demand.
Battery raw materials
SFA has over a decade of hands-on engineering experience in battery raw materials, including aiding investors with project and plant due diligence in the lithium industry, on-site visits to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) or high-pressure acid leach (HPAL) plants in Australasia, as well as price forecasting and market studies. Leveraging off this wealth of expertise, SFA continues to be a reliable partner for stakeholders and investors in the battery raw materials space.
Augmented mine business planning
SFA (Oxford) is experienced in augmenting client management teams by independently reviewing and assessing mine and project business plans.
Our consulting is normally commissioned as part of a strategic business review of mining assets, to dovetail new shaft development and old shaft closure, or to ensure timely shaft delivery. The team has visited and assessed numerous mine shafts, pits and projects.
The consulting team at SFA (Oxford) is led by Stephen Forrest (Chairman), a chartered and professional engineer with over 15 years of PGM mine experience as a Mine Manager and Head of Technical Services.
Stephen has also conducted and led many due diligence assignments, been responsible for mine shaft sinking and has worked for Boards and investors to seek opportunities to add value or leverage value from assets. Depending on the assignment, the team utilises expert associate mine engineers, geologists, metallurgists and analysts where appropriate.
Our consulting team evaluates mining company business plans, assisting clients to finalise, commit and verify the key production parameters for new shafts and operating mines, as well as the timeline for delivery against strategy. This includes:
- Analysing development rate assumptions
- The scrutiny of half-level layouts (mechanised vs. conventional)
- Referencing geological plans (extraction rates) and the upcoming geological drilling schedule
Assessments of stoping rates and team efficiencies against shaft construction schedules are also undertaken, as well as reviews of construction schedules (logistics, reef, material handling).
We also verify logistical challenges and determine whether any significant bottlenecks prohibit the shaft from reaching its full potential.
Furthermore, we establish the current issues facing the commissioning of projects and quantify the upside and downside risks to shaft production profiles to ensure targets are met unconditionally and communicated to the Board.
Using our extensive industry database and client data, we benchmark agreed parameters against internal (where relevant) and external (risk scenario analysis) operations, and the project/mine planned performance is then benchmarked against the wider sector, where applicable, to identify the competitive edge.
Metallurgical processing and commercial options
SFA (Oxford) has extensive expertise, networks and supporting databases which can be used to assist clients to add or create value within the metallurgical process linkages of the value chain, whether it is to:
- Evaluate commercial terms for a product
- Decide on the best processing route
- Consider options to fill a smelter or refinery
- Benchmark a process against that of peers
- Provide mass pull calculations
- Estimate CAPEX requirements and recoveries
- Quantify and evaluate tailings dams
- Obtain a second opinion on the suitability of new technology for feed
SFA (Oxford) has completed numerous assignments, mapping the commercial options for mine concentrate, modelling all industry smelters and refineries, and identifying and defining the various processing points (including capacity constraints) in the global value chain for concentrate from smelter to refinery.
In determining the best method for the client to process its PGM concentrate product, we compare the various structures/markets available. This analysis provides a value assessment for the sale of the different PGM products at various positions in the value chain, and examines the impact of moving up or down the value chain with each product. This approach helps the client to compare the economics of the sale of PGM concentrate.
Recently we carried out a comparative analysis of white matte and green matte options (Platsol™ products) for one of our clients. This analysis typically takes into account the commercial terms that the client could expect to receive from the potential customer base. Included in the consultation, we provided the client with an understanding of the PGM market and the potential impact of its products on the market.
Peer-group benchmarking and asset contextualisation
Using SFA (Oxford)’s unrivalled database and expertise on the PGM industry, we conduct assessments of projects, mines and companies, benchmarking their assets against those of the peer group and other market players in order to ascertain future levels of return on the investment made.
As part of our analysis we comment, where relevant, on geology, resources, prill splits and by-products, in addition to technical issues such as mining methods. The research includes benchmarking of selected company statistics which encompasses cost and profit dynamics, and the competitive advantages and disadvantages of each company are usually detailed.
Due diligence studies
SFA (Oxford) undertakes confidential assignments on behalf of a wide range of clients, including mining companies, investment banks, hedge funds, metal traders and high net worth individuals, to support their due diligence activities.
A broad spectrum of assets and scenarios can be evaluated, including corporate entities, projects from exploration to feasibility stage, operating mines, expansions and restarts. We can also assess numerous specific transactions, ranging from corporate deals to commodity market trading opportunities.
In carrying out these assignments, SFA (Oxford) has several significant competitive advantages over 'traditional' technical consultants:
- We are not constrained by any particular approach and our expertise cuts across traditional demarcation lines. Members of the SFA (Oxford) team have extensive experience of exploration, project appraisal, mine operation management, mineral processing, marketing, mining finance and mineral economics, covering a range of metals. This enables us to make a rapid, accurate initial assessment of an asset or situation, from technical, financial and strategic viewpoints.
- The whole range of mined commodities is covered. Although probably best known for our specialisation in the platinum-group metals, the team frequently undertakes assignments on lithium, cobalt, gold and silver as well as in base metals, particularly aluminium, copper, nickel and zinc. We also cover a range of other commodities such as diamonds, iron ore, coal and industrial minerals, applying our proven analytical skills to each.
- We deliver focused, timely, effective and value-adding due diligence solutions. Our reports are concise and commercially focused and each one is prefaced with an executive summary that sets out clearly the key issues and strategic choices available to the client. Our communication style is tailored carefully according to each client's needs and preferences. In most instances, an initial report is issued within five working days of completing a site visit.
- SFA (Oxford) has long maintained a strong network of trusted associates and specialist consultants. Where additional specialised input is called for, we identify the requirements and recommend a suitable expert. Typically, we call upon associates for specific engineering, geological, mineral market or other expert input, such as resource audits or engineering studies. More generally, our network penetrates the length and breadth of the mining industry and allied sectors, from senior operating management to investment bankers.
Strategy and planning
With its globally recognised knowledge and understanding of today and tomorrow's PGM industry across the entire value chain from rock-face to end-use, SFA (Oxford) is well placed to identify industry opportunities and threats in order to generate ideas to augment our clients' business strategy and planning efforts.
We have spent many years building the most sophisticated, tried and tested models to predict developments in all facets of the PGM market out to 2027 and beyond. Our diverse team of PGM experts, using our information and data platform, can generate scenarios to identify investment possibilities in the PGM industry uniquely matched to our clients' business objectives. Our reputation is built on the team's ability to meet client-specific requirements, with the utmost regard and sensitivity for confidentiality.
Some examples of SFA (Oxford)’s tailored strategic consulting assignments include:
- An on-going evaluation of the threats and opportunities for end-use technologies in order to identify new possibilities for generating value
- The augmentation of investment planning initiatives for a major financial institution by supplying real-time market impact analysis, information on end-use developments, mine and project evaluation, and metal price forecasting
- An evaluation of the optimal timing for new shaft development and an economic peer-group benchmarking assessment as part of a mine feasibility study
- A number of strategic business planning workshops for major producers and diversified conglomerates to identify investment opportunities within the PGM supply chain
- An independent identification of the investment opportunity of a junior PGM company and its assets for stock exchange listing purposes.
SFA (Oxford) regularly receives requests to provide independent valuations and assessments of individual investment cases.
Leveraging its extensive experience of exploration, project appraisal, mine operation management, mineral processing, marketing, mining finance and mineral economics, and covering a range of metals, the SFA team is able to make a rapid, accurate assessment of an asset or situation, from technical, financial and strategic viewpoints.
We have carried out valuation assignments ranging from PGM assets in Southern Africa and cobalt-rich deposits in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to gold mines in Papua New Guinea.
Valuations by SFA (Oxford) have led to asset sales for major producers as well as for junior mining companies.
Industry players and competitor analytics
With its unrivalled depth of expertise and unique database, SFA (Oxford) is able to produce comprehensive analytics of industry players, providing a coherent, competitive view of an industry sector.
The team's constant monitoring of industry dynamics and awareness of activities within the global PGM peer group have led to our distinguished track record of modelling and assessing strategic opportunities for our clients.
SFA (Oxford) has been involved in identifying, evaluating and quantifying potential synergies associated with industry consolidation and, on behalf of clients, has prioritised target companies, developing business cases for consolidation from the perspectives of each party.
We have also acted as an independent reference point for stress testing in-house scenarios. Leveraging our vast knowledge and understanding of the Southern African PGM peer group and other global players, we use our detailed modelling platform to extrapolate macro and micro scenarios of PGM markets to augment a client’s strategic assessment of its assets.