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Geomechanics: Continuous Investment ensures business longevity

Dave Rossiter geotechnical investigation Amatikulu Bridge
Dave Rossiter conducts a geotechnical investigation for the Amatikulu Bridge

Geomechanics: 30 years of drilling experience in Africa and still bullish.

“With a fresh view on economic and political factors influencing our long-term strategies, we have had to shift our focus from only local investment and footprint to now include taking our brand over the borders into neighboring countries and abroad, on a more permanent basis” – Non-executive Chairman and Founder- Dave Rossiter.

From the day in 1989 when Dave Rossiter bought out his two partners in Ground Mechanics and changed the company’s name to Geomechanics, he has maneuvered the company for growth. Geomechanics’ first job entailed geotechnical investigations for the N2 at the Amatikulu Bridge. This one project for SANRAL became two, then three and so on until Dave and his only permanent employee at the time, Barry Kruger, had done the geotechnical investigations for the whole length of the N2 from Amatikulu to Richards Bay. As the job progressed it required doubling of the workforce and the number of drilling rigs. In the next 30 years of steady growth, Dave has never lost sight of the fact that his company originally grew because he was able to deliver good quality services, on time. The resultant trust from his clients is the basis for the company’s success and longevity. 30 years down the line, the company has branches in JHB, Durban, East London, Cape Town and Uganda and plans to open further branches as far afield as the United Arab Emirates.

As core clients required more varied services, Geomechanics diversified to deliver those services and now the company operates as many as 50 drill rigs throughout Southern Africa. Geomechanics is undoubtedly the most diversified geotechnical and exploration company in South Africa. Geomechanics is now able to offer rotary core drilling, percussion drilling, mud rotary drilling, reverse circulation drilling, sonic drilling, CPTU testing, Menhard pressure meter testing and a host of other related tests and services. When geotechnical projects became harder to find in the 2000’s Geomechanics expanded its portfolio of services to include exploration drilling and also expanded beyond the borders of South Africa with projects in Namibia, Tanzania, Angola, Madagascar, and more recently Sweden.

In 2013, the company added soil and rock movement monitoring and measurement services with the acquisition of Terra Monitoring, the company Dave originally worked for before starting Geomechanics in 1989. Again, the expansion was customer driven - consultants are increasingly asking the geotechnical service providers to not only provide sampling but also to provide some analysis as well.

The company’s head office, main workshops and stores are located at a facility of over 5000m2 near Lanseria International Airport in Gauteng, 2500m2 of which is dedicated to manufacture and maintenance of machinery. Only by continually updating and replacing outdated equipment has the company managed to deliver on its promises to its customers.
Over the years Geomechanics has developed a vast array of experience working in the African environment. Often as Geotechnical or exploration contractors, we are the first contractors to arrive at a new site where there is nothing but bush for kilometers in all directions. We pride ourselves in our logistical skills when operating in remote locations. Whether it be a helicopter site where rigs must be airlifted into position or on water with a jack up barge, we have the necessary equipment and experience.

Our camps use state of the art equipment such as thermally insulated cabins and large gensets and must meet acceptable health and safety standards with running water and facilities for medical emergencies. Our staff are experienced in many aspects of operating in remote locations such as building access roads and small bridges in order to access borehole positions, doing helicopter slinging operations to move drill rigs in mountainous areas and building drilling platforms on precarious slopes and cliff sides.

The natural environment in which we often find ourselves can present many challenges. The company personnel have had to deal with flooding rivers, wild animals, poisonous snakes in remote areas and sometimes game reserves. Health and safety are paramount and the company has developed a mature health and safety component which ensures the safety of personnel and equipment at all times.

The remote locations have also necessitated the use of some serious equipment over the years. Geomechanics owns a big fleet of 27 Trucks, 13 people carriers and 27 bakkies that it uses to move its people and drilling equipment around the continent. The Geomechanics crews are well experienced in working with helicopters, gained since the first helicopter project in 1996. Geomechanics is equipped with 3 barges of various sizes and with jack up capability.

When asked what he thinks his biggest achievement is over the 30-year history of Geomechanics, Dave says, “It has to be the good reputation we have with our customers. We have worked very hard to establish and maintain this reputation. It was the foundation for our growth from a one man and one machine start-up to the multi-million Rand organisation we have today.”

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