Celebrating 40 years of excellence

DRA Global has been on a 40-year journey to turn the future of mining into reality as the most sought-after company in our field.

Since 1984, our vision and purpose have been about creating real value for our people, clients, shareholders, and communities. Our core values of safety, integrity, trust, excellence, courage and people, our entrepreneurial spirit and strong engineering legacy have always been ingrained in our DNA.

Explore our evolution from our humble beginnings in Africa to our status as a global player in the mining, minerals and metals industry.


The beginning of DRA

During an industry downturn, Brian Dowding and Tony Reynard mortgaged their homes and started Dowding, Reynard and Associates, along with other associates.

From humble beginnings, Dowding, Reynard and Associates operated from a small one-room office in Johannesburg, South Africa, with the company car being a 15-year-old Datsun 1200.

In the early days, DRA’s mantra was ‘have fun, look after each other and make some money along the way’.

Their vision to create something extraordinary, their courage to lead the change and their desire to work with people who excel in their respective field of work have shaped the company’s identity and are reflected in our values.

“The industry was going through a downturn at the time and as business dried up, engineers got the sense that they were simply sitting around waiting for the chop. This is what inspired us to go it alone … DRA was born” – Brian Dowding, Founder of DRA


The backbone of DRA’s development

One of DRA’s first turnkey projects occurred in 1986 for a coal mining company called Alfred McAlpine, which later became part of the Trans Natal group.

It wasn’t until we successfully secured a contract for the TNC Drum plant, part of Gencor, that DRA become a dominant player in coal. The breakthrough came in the late 1990s with the completion of the Twistdraai coal processing plant for Sasol Mining.

Today, we have executed more than 400 coal projects and studies globally, including materials handling facilities. Our experience extends beyond Africa to include projects in China, Canada, USA, Australia, India and Indonesia.


Designing 80% of the world’s platinum processing plants

The beginning of our success in platinum was when DRA was awarded its first EPCM contract for the Tails Retreat Project for Lonrho. 

In return for a job well done, DRA was awarded the mine’s expansion projects that were planned for the next four year. This comprised four 80,000 tpm concentrators and established DRA’s reputation as a company able to undertake multimillion-rand EPCM projects. 

Today, DRA has designed more than 80% of the world’s platinum processing plants, including Northam’s Booysendal Platinum mine, Anglo Platinum’s Mogalakwena Platinum mine and Sedibelo’s Pilanesbery Platinum mine.

Alistair Hodgkinson, DRA Global’s Executive Vice President for EMEA, SENET and South America, joined the company in 2007 after his tenure at Impala Platinum. Listen to Alistair talk about his experience working on the Maruala project, a venture designed by DRA (download the PDF transcript).


Growing our expertise

Despite the tough times that followed the October Crash of 1987 in South Africa, the industry began to improve by the mid-1990s.

By that time, DRA had developed extensive expertise in mineral processing, engineering, and project delivery, completing major projects for clients in the PGMs, gold, diamonds and coal sectors in South Africa.

With new projects and people joining the business, DRA had outgrown its previous office spaces. In 1993, the electrical team was based in a rented office space in Rivonia, while the Sunninghill offices, known as “The House,” housed the drawing office, mechanical, and process teams.

Dezanne Ferreira, DRA Global's Senior Procurement Coordinator in EMEA, shares insights about the company during its early years and her career journey over her 23-year tenure at DRA (download the PDF transcript).


Operations and maintenance division

In 1996, DRA further expanded its service offering by establishing a contract operations and maintenance division called Minopex.

First successes were in the coal industry, where Minopex smoothly transitioned into other commodities including chromite and PGMs.

A pivotal year was in 1999 when Minopex secured its first flagship project at Kroondal 1 for Sibanye-Stillwater. Five years later, Minopex also secured the Kroondal 2 contract.

Today, Minopex still holds the O&M contract for Kroondal 1 and Kroondal 2 following 20 years of successful stewardship for both concentrators. As a leading outsourced mineral processing plant operator, Minopex has an impressive track-record across 14 countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Paul Thomson, Minopex's Operations Executive, and Rashid Kader, DRA Global's Executive Vice President – Global O&M Capability, reflect on the early days and successes of Minopex, and the growth strategy for our O&M capability (download the PDF transcript).


G'day Australia

In 1997, DRA began expanding its global presence and service offerings through organic growth and acquisitions, opening its first international office in Perth, Western Australia. 

Years later, in 2017, DRA further expanded its footprint in Asia-Pacific region by acquiring Perth-based engineering company, Minnovo. The acquisition added key resources and experience to our capabilities, enhancing our overall strength in the design and construction of processing facilities across a wide range of minerals, including ferrous metals, precious metals, base metals and industrial minerals.

Patrick Scanlon, DRA Global's Principal Engineer - Mechanical Engineering in APAC, shares his career journey with the company since joining seven years ago (read the PDF transcript).


Specialist winder expertise

Addressing a gap in our service offering, Brian Downing enlisted the expertise of brothers Mike du Plessis and Graham du Plessis to consult as winder engineers for DRA in 1998. By 1999, DRA had formally established a winder division, led by Mike and Graham.

As one of very few specialist winder consultants in the world, DRA has developed an excellent reputation for the design of mine winder and hoisting systems. Among many achievements, DRA was responsible for building the first ground mounted Koepe winder installations in South Africa at Impala Platinum’s Number 17 Shaft.

Mike, who still serves as the Divisional Director for Winder Systems at DRA, reflects on how it all started and his career journey over the past 25 years (download the PDF transcript).


Shining bright at Letšeng mine

In 2004, the Letšeng Diamond Mine in Lesotho, Southern Africa, garnered national attention with the recovery of several famous stones, a testament to the mine's rich diamond deposits and enduring legacy, which is still managed and operated by Minopex today.

The Star of Lesotho, a white 123-carat diamond, was unearthed in 2004. This was later followed by the Lesotho Promise, which was recovered in 2006, fetching US$12.4 million upon its sale. The Letšeng Legacy and the Leseli La Letšeng followed in 2007 and 2008, respectively, adding to the mine's collection of gems.

Before Minopex assumed management of the processing facility, DRA designed and constructed a fully enclosed 350 tph Dense Media Separation plant at Letseng. This plant was designed to process large diamond particles of up to 50mm.


First office in North America

In 2005, after expanding its operations to Australia, DRA established its footprint in North America by opening an office in Toronto, Canada.

Nearly 20 years later, the North America offices have grown from five to 400 people. A key milestone was reached in 2023 when DRA was awarded its first full-service EPCM contract in North America.

Pierre Julien, DRA Global’s Executive Vice President for Global Origination and North America, shares insights into our North America business and the organic growth we have experience in the region in recent years (download the PDF transcript).


PPRust Platinum success

A joint venture between DRA and Shanduka/TWP, Vhumbanani was contracted by Anglo Platinum to design and construct the PPRust Platinum concentrator in Limpopo, South Africa. 

The 600,000 tpm concentrator, located in the PPRust North Mogalakwena section, represented the largest project the company had undertaken at the time.

The execution phase commenced in January 2006, and the project was successfully completed in 2008. This milestone project showcased DRA’s capability to manage and deliver large-scale, complex undertakings, reinforcing our position as a leader in the industry.

The successful completion of the PPRust Platinum concentrator stands as a testament to our commitment to excellence, innovation, and collaborative partnerships. 


Promoting inclusion and diversity

DRA first acquired its Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) certificate, following the introduction of the rating system and its Code of Good Practice in 2007. 

To this day, we continue to honor our commitment to inclusivity and empowerment of designated groups by proudly retaining our Level 4 B-BBEE scorecard rating for EMEA Projects and Level 2 B-BBEE scorecard rating for Minopex.


New mining division

In the early days, DRA was approached by clients to undertake mining projects. Fast forward to 2008, DRA Mining was established as a new mining division, aimed at broadening its capabilities to encompass the entire mining value chain.

Success came in 2010 when DRA was awarded the Booysendal UG2 Mine project by Northam Platinum, marking its first large-scale project as a total solution partner. In the same year, DRA delivered the Mogalakwena Platinum project, one of the world’s largest platinum concentrators, to Anglo American.

Neale Goddard, DRA Global's Senior Vice President of Mining Projects, shares his insights on these achievements (download the PDF transcript).


Delivering Phola Coal

In 2009, DRA completed the Phola Coal project, a joint venture between Anglo American Coal and BHP Billiton Energy Coal South Africa. This project represented DRA's largest endeavor in the coal sector, encompassing the design and construction of a massive 16 Mtpa coal processing plant, situation in South Africa.

That same year, we broadened our horizons by venturing to infrastructure through the strategic acquisition of Holley and Associates - a professional civil, structural and infrastructure engineering design and consulting services.


Wealth of commodity expertise

By the end of 2010, DRA had established itself as a versatile player in the mining industry, gaining experience in nearly all commodities. Our expertise spanned platinum, gold, diamonds, base metals, bulk commodities, and more recently, battery minerals such as lithium and rare earth elements. With offices established across the globe, DRA's reach and capability continued to grow.

After successfully completing a feasibility study and capital budget estimate, DRA was contracted for the multi-level mine design of the Leeuwkop Shaft Project for Impala Platinum in 2011. This achievement marked a pivotal moment in DRA's history, showcasing our ability to deliver large-scale, complex projects and solidifying our reputation in the industry.


Success for Khumani

In 2013, DRA delivered the Khumani Iron Ore project to Assmang, marking a significant achievement in the company's history. The project began in 2006 with Phase 1, known as the BKM project, which involved constructing a 10 Mtpa processing plant. In 2009, Phase 2, the Khumani Expansion Project, commenced, aimed at increasing the mine's processing capacity.

A notable milestone in this project was the completion of a WHIMS (wet, high-intensity magnetic separation) plant in 2013, the first of its kind for iron ore in South Africa and another pioneering achievement for DRA.

Among many accomplishments, the project's safety record was particularly impressive. Over 23 million man-hours were worked, with 21.5 million of those being fatality-free, resulting in an LTIFR of 0.09 for the combined phases. This outstanding safety performance underscores DRA's commitment to maintaining high standards in project execution.


Expansion and transformation as DRA turns 30

In 2014, DRA achieved a significant milestone by delivering the Kibali Gold project to Randgold Resources and AngloGold Ashanti. This marked a pivotal moment in our journey - a testament to DRA’s commitment to overcoming challenges posed by difficult terrains, logistical intricacies and the complexities of safety amidst diverse languages and cultures.

Expanding our global presences, we ventured into the United States by acquiring Taggart, thus establishing our energy operations division within this dynamic market.

2014 was not only a year of expansion but also one of transformation. Reflecting our growth and evolution, we unveiled a new corporate identity - a bold, iconic green delta emblem that remains synonymous with DRA to this day.



Leaving a legacy at Tweefonetin

Glencore's Tweefontein coal processing plant in Mpumalanga, South Africa, stands out as one of DRA's most significant engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) projects to date.

This endeavor involved the replacement of three existing 9 Mtpa coal preparation plants (CPP) into a single plant. The new CPP was designed for a raw coal feed capacity of 12.5 Mtpa and featured two 1,000 tph modules, a two stage, primary and secondary dense medium cyclone facility for coarse coal and a spiral-based unit for fines coal processing. 

Notably, DRA leveraged advanced virtual construction simulation software throughout the project lifecycle. This technology played a crucial role in risk mitigation, enhancing safety measures, and optimizing constructability. By embracing cutting-edge tools, DRA demonstrated its commitment to delivering complex projects with precision and efficiency.


Expanding horizons in North America

In 2016, DRA took a strategic step forward by acquiring Met-Chem, a prominent Quebec-based consulting engineering firm renowned for its specialized expertise in geology, mining, and processing.

Established in 1969, Met-Chem is well-respected by mining clients across the world. The acquisition of Met-Chem aligned perfectly with DRA's expanding presence in the Americas, marking a pivotal move towards further growth and enhanced capabilities within the region.

This integration enriched DRA's portfolio with Met-Chem's established reputation and deep industry knowledge, positioning us for continued success and leadership in the mining and engineering sectors.

Daniel Gagnon, DRA Global's Senior VP Mining Geology and Met-Chem Operations, shares insights about this acquisition and how the Montreal team has developed during that time (download the PDF transcript).


Trusted partner for Kamoa Kakula project

DRA's involvement in the Kamoa Kakula project for Kamoa Copper represented a significant undertaking. The project commenced with extensive studies and advanced to full-scale execution in 2019.

Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, our team achieved remarkable milestones. In November 2020, we recorded an impressive 4 million lost time injury free hours. Critical systems such as the main decline belt and rock handling were commissioned remotely during lockdowns, demonstrating our adaptability and resilience in adverse conditions.

The offloading of the 2,000th truckload of project equipment in November 2020 signified a significant milestone, showcasing the dedication and collective effort of everyone involved in this transformative project.

Throughout the project's development, DRA and Kamoa Copper forged a strong partnership marked by notable achievements and collaborative successes.


World’s longest RopeCon

DRA achieved groundbreaking milestones with innovative projects across continents. In Southern Africa, at Northam's Booysendal project, DRA delivered the world's longest RopeCon system—an engineering marvel comprising strategically positioned towers connected by ropes and conveyor belts running above ground. This pioneering system, the first of its kind in the region, showcases DRA's expertise in implementing cutting-edge solutions.

Following DRA's engineering services, Minopex was awarded the operations and maintenance contract for Booysendal Platinum, ensuring a seamless transition from project delivery to operational excellence.

In the APAC region, DRA's team secured the EPC contract for the Dargues Gold project in New South Wales, Australia, further demonstrating their capability in delivering large-scale projects.

Another significant milestone was the Tizert Project in Morocco, highlighting DRA's status as a global engineering company. The North America team led the bankable feasibility study from 2018 to 2022 with support from EMEA, and in 2022, SENET was awarded the Tizert Process Plant EPCM while North America took on the UG and OP EPCM. This project underscored DRA's global reach and collaborative approach across its regional teams.


Expanding engineering in Africa and South America

DRA continues its growth path by acquiring SENET to enhance its engineering capabilities in Africa. 

SENET was awarded the Tri-K Gold project by Groupe Managem. The project was successfully delivered in 2021 and won an award in the ‘Best Mining Projects’ category of the African Investments Forum and Awards in 2022.

The acquisition of SENET strengthens DRA’s presence and expertise in Africa, providing a solid foundation for further growth.

In the same year, DRA also established its presence in South America by opening its first office in Lima, Peru. This expansion was marked by being awarded its first project with Antamina, one of the largest copper-zinc mines in the world.

Darren Naylor, who was the Managing Director of SENET at the time of the acquisition, reflects on the strategic importance of this integration and its potential to enhance DRA’s capabilities and market position (download the PDF transcript).


Supporting our teams and communities through COVID-19

In response to the rapid spread of COVID-19 and the subsequent declaration of a pandemic by the World Health Organization, DRA swiftly implemented remote operations and robust safety protocols to ensure continuity of operations and safeguard our workforce.

Amidst these challenging times, DRA achieved remarkable milestones.

To support our expanding global presence, DRA established a new office in Santiago, Chile, enhancing our ability to serve clients and partners in the region.

We also secured the Carmichael CHP and CPP EPC contract in Australia, the W2 and CCS feasibility study for Antamina and the Master Service Agreement with MMG Las Bambas projects in Peru, South America.

Enrique Valdivia, DRA Global's Managing Director for South America, elaborates on our journey of establishing offices in South America and our significant organic growth trajectory in the region.


Strong forward-looking pipeline

DRA has always prioritised building strong relationships with our clients. Whether it's developing a tailored solution for a junior miner or adhering to advanced systems for a Tier 1 organization’s mine expansion, we adapt our methods to meet the specific requirements of each project and client.

Our commitment to strong client relationships and securing repeat business led us to surpass A$1.2 billion in order intake in 2021.

On 9 July 2021, DRA Global Limited successfully completed an IPO and listed on both the ASX and JSE, marking a significant milestone in our company's growth and market presence.


Key contracts secured in Australia

DRA achieved significant milestones in Australia, securing key projects that underscore our expertise and capabilities in the region.

In 2020, DRA was awarded a major design package for the Vickery Extension project with Whitehaven Coal in New South Wales, Australia.

Simultaneously, DRA secured the operations and maintenance contract at the Carmichael Coal Handling and Preparation Plant (CHPP) facility in Central Queensland, Australia, on behalf of Bravus Mining and Resources. This award marked the first operations and maintenance contract in the region.

Darren Naylor, DRA Global's Executive Vice President for APAC, provides valuable insights into these projects.


Future and innovation focused

Since the 1980s, the mining, metals and minerals industry has transformed significantly through the integration of advanced technologies, enhanced project delivery methodologies, and improved operations management practices. In recent years, particularly since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an acceleration in strategies focusing on ESG, digitisation and automation. These changes have resulted in increased efficiency, safety, and sustainability, enabling the industry to adapt to evolving challenges and opportunities in a dynamic global environment.

In 2023, DRA secured several flagship projects that align with our strategic intent to lead the future of mining. These include new projects and extensions in copper, nickel, lithium, rare earths, PGM’s, gold, uranium and a variety of bulk commodities. These projects, among others, position DRA to contribute to producing the metals and minerals required to support a more sustainable future.

Additionally, in the same year, Minopex launched its NeuroMine Mining Insights Centre. The centralised mining insights center provides real-time monitoring, analytics, and expert domain-driven insights from a single, central location.


DRA celebrates 40 years

Today, DRA Global is recognised as a global brand and a leader in the mining, minerals and metals industry. 

Over the last 40 years, we have delivered more than 8,000 projects, studies and managed service solutions. Our operation now covers all major mining centers across five continents, and we employ more than 4,200 people worldwide.

Our investment in people also extends to the local communities where we operate. Through our corporate social investment programs, we have been able to facilitate the upliftment of communities and charitable organisations.

As we celebrate our 40th anniversary, we remain committed to pursuing growth opportunities and executing our global expansion strategy, and investing in innovation and technological advancement. 

James Smith, DRA Global Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, reflects on the company's 40-year history and what drive us towards our aspiration of turning the future into reality as the most sought-after company in our field (download the PDF transcript).