Engineer par excellence

By By Michael Tambo
September 2011
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Barnabas Uugwanga is breaking new ground in Mining Engineering Consultancy and Mining Project Management at a youthful age, after being recently appointed as Chief executive Officer for Lithon Mining Engineers, a mining engineering firm.

Armed with a BSc in Mining Engineering from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, Uugwanga brings into his work a wealth of experience in the project management, mine planning, production management and business process re-engineering propelled by an ambition for ‘sustainable growth of the Namibian Mining Industry through the provision of professional mining engineering consultancy services’

Breaking new ground as Namibia’s first mining engineering consultancy firm offering specialist services, Lithon Mining Engineers’ captain has risen through the ranks to land into the hot seat and intends to take on Southern Africa before he can face the world.

Uugwanga has served both in the local mining and banking industries before taking up the challenge to lead Lithon Mining Engineers (Pty) Ltd as a partner and corporate lead.

“Besides offering mining engineering technical and financial services, I would like to lead this firm into the international mining engineering and technical market. The company’s strategy is to work with reputable mining houses by offering mining engineering technical and financial services,” he says.

Lithon Mining Engineers’ vision is to be recognized as a preferred partner in mining engineering consultation and project management as well as in the provision of mining financial services to all mining companies in Africa as well as internationally.

“As Lithon Mining Engineers we assist both major mining houses and small scale miners. We provide investments advice and link potential mine owners with local and international investors.”

Uugwanga started etching his mining engineering career path in 2002, when he was recruited as a bursary student with Namdeb.

Immediately after completing his studies, Uugwanga was appointed as a Project Manager for a production monitoring system project. During the same period, he was also appointed to manage and technically support a mining section (Mini-mine) in Mining Area 1 (MA1), Oranjemund.

“The country’s mining industry is relatively small but relevant to the country’s economic growth. Namibian mining engineers need to develop the required technical skills in order to be able to serve mining projects across their value chain,” says Uugwanga,

He explains that it takes passion, fundamental understanding of mineral economics and hands-on experience in mining production for a person to succeed as a mining engineer within the consultancy space, “In my case, I was fast tracked into Project Management, production management and mine planning immediately after graduation.”

In April 2008, Uugwanga joined Navachab Gold Mine, owned by AngloGold Ashanti, as a senior mining engineer responsible for short-term mine planning and scheduling.

He was later appointed Project Manager for the dispatch system for Navachab in September 2009. At the end of March 2010, Uugwanga joined the Standard Bank Core Banking project team as ‘Manager Process Lead’, he was responsible for leading business process re-engineering leg of the core banking replacement project.

Currently pursuing an MSc in Industrial Engineering with the University of the Witwatersrand on a part-time basis, Uugwanga is of the opinion that the industry is still growing but needs relevant expertise.

“We need more mining engineers and geologists to acquire mine designer credibility and hence further developing the mining engineering profession,” he says.

An important aspect to his organisation’s culture is the daily devotions that the Lithon team do of sharing religious messages before they start work.

“Lithon team come together every morning for devotions to pray and acknowledge the creator. We always put God first in all our activities.”

The strong Christian background comes from Uugwanga’s upbringing. He grew up in Onyaanya village in Oshikoto region where he had a ‘nomadic’ primary school education that saw him enrolling at five different primary schools in seven years and at least finally matriculating at Oshigambo High School.

Barnabas has a vision of leading a new age of mining engineers from within the country and internationally, with emphasis of Africa up skilling and hence self-reliance. PF