Winning mining engineering propositions in a market downturn

It is a specific and challenging undertaking to do business development in a market that is notorious for crashes and resurgences – the Resource Market (mining), particularly the Junior Resource Market. Marthe Bijman of Red Pennant provided business development services to the Canadian Mining Practice (CMP) of Tetra Tech, Inc. from July 2014 to April 2017. This was a period where the market was in a downturn, with some optimism for future improvements – but not much.

“There has been no shortage of analysis suggesting that late 2015 marked the bottom of the market. Sporadic rallies in early 2016 built expectations, with many pens poised to herald a gradual but sustained return to prosperity. However, most aspirations have since been snuffed, dismissed as unfortunate interpretations of increased volatility. Some industry leaders have taken the opportunity to reinforce their expectations of subdued conditions persisting through 2016 and beyond.” (PWC Canada, Mine 2016: Slower, lower, weaker…but not defeated)

In fact, the downturn continued through 2017. In these three challenging years, she delivered strategic advice on business development and marketing, and the full process of proposal production, from fact-checking, research, sourcing of information, writing, design and production, to developing supporting marketing collateral.

About Tetra Tech

Tetra Tech (NASDAQ: TTEK) is a provider of consulting, engineering, program management, construction management, and technical services. With some 13,000 employees and 300 offices worldwide, Tetra Tech’s capabilities span the entire project life cycle. According to Business Vancouver’s Book of Lists of 2015, Tetra Tech’s Canadian Mining Practice was the 3rd largest Engineering firm in British Columbia, after Amec-Foster Wheeler and Golder Associates, with 198 Professional Engineers.

A different approach

To provide this large team with project wins in a market downturn took a different approach to business development. Every activity was incrementally more challenging and complicated. Jake Alexander, the client, commented:

“Marthe combined her strengths with those of the team to recover the business – helping to pull it out of the downturn. The bids and proposals she produces are not standard documents, but are strategic in nature and different from the norm, in order to produce winning propositions.” – Jake Alexander, General Manager, Tetra Tech CMP

Scope of services

Marthe Bijman was proposal writer, lead or contributor on 30+ proposals, ranging from $50,000 to $20 million in value, including proposals for projects with the following specific requirements:

  • Prefeasibility Study, Feasibility Study, Scoping Study
  • Preliminary Economic Assessment Update, Feasibility Study Update
  • Ore sorting Study
  • Tailings Storage Facility Feasibility Study
  • Water Treatment Plant Prefeasibility/Feasibility Study
  • Owner’s engineer services
  • Basic engineering & preliminary CAPEX
  • Processing facility construction
  • Engineering, Procurement and Construction Management (EPCM)
  • Tailings dewatering plant EPCM
  • Project control services
  • Geotechnical pit design
  • Environmental Permitting
  • Value engineering

End clients for which these proposals were produced included Cameco, Barrick, Fluor, Teck, Nevada Copper, Canadian Zinc, Pretium, Luna Gold, and WPC Resources.These requirements span the services offered by Tetra Tech in the mine lifecycle, from studies, through engineering design to EPCM. She utilized Tetra Tech’s extensive business development and project management systems, and the company’s proprietary platforms and applications.

End clients for which these proposals were produced included Cameco, Barrick, Fluor, Teck, Nevada Copper, Canadian Zinc, Pretium, Luna Gold, and WPC Resources.

Proposals are team efforts. The team with whose input she produced the proposals included Mining and Civil Engineers, Geoscientists, Metallurgists, Project Managers, Project Controllers and Estimators, and Procurement Specialists.

Business development collateral

During this period she researched, wrote and designed collateral including 35+ project profiles, 10+ brochures, and numerous representative project lists. She maintained and expanded the CMP’s SharePoint repository of marketing and business development collateral, and produced information for the company website, and press releases and articles, when needed.

Examples of work

Client ratings for Red Pennant

Rating scale: 1 = Unacceptable/very poor to 5 = Highly recommended/excellent
Average rating for services provided: 4.5 out of a possible 5 Rating
1.     Strategic advice and tactics 4
2.     Delivered expected outcomes 5
3.     Timeliness – met deadlines 4.5
4.     Understanding of the subject matter (terminology and discourse) 4
5.     Quality of the solution or deliverable (overall)
5.1. Proposal document 5
5.2.   Support materials such as project profiles, brochures, presentation, etc. 5
5.3.   Research and fact-checking 5
5.4.   Writing style and accuracy 4
6.     Technical expertise (with marketing / BD software and apps) 5
7.     Fairness of cost of services 4
8.     Professionalism 5
9.     Teamwork to get the desired outcome 4
10.   Innovation to solve problems 4

About the header: View of the conveyor at Mount Polley Mine, owned by Tetra Tech’s client, Imperial Metals (Tetra Tech project photo, used with permission).

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