The mining industry has witnessed an increased demand for more copper and this has partially been attributed to the advent of electric vehicles (EVs), which use copper for batteries and wiring. Alistair Group’s extensive experience and proven expertise in this industry have allowed us to recognise the Copperbelt’s significance for African mining expansion and beneficiation. Contrary to a few decades ago, a large portion of output, in the form of copper raw materials, is transported by truck, as opposed to rail, to destinations outside the DRC.

The transportation of Copper comes with its own set of challenges and any transporter handling this commodity will have effective round trips, cargo safety and reduced costs at the forefront of their minds. With more than a decade of experience providing an end-to-end logistics solution to our copper clients, we would like to share the top 5 tips that come to mind when thinking about the transportation of copper.

1. Visibility & reachability
When a driver is transporting a load to a value of over $300K, the reachability of the driver and visibility of the cargo becomes paramount. In Africa, considering the lack of infrastructure and development, it is easy for transporters to unwillingly go off the grid. Alistair Group has made it their first priority to ensure that this never happens and that we are able to provide our clients with the ease of mind that they know where their cargo is at all times.
Once goods are placed on our trucks and are ready for transport, tracking becomes fully automated by using our track & trace technology and GPS systems. The Alistair Group’s Track and Trace system is a modern, fully web-based platform with real-time status and location information of goods, personnel, and vehicles. This information is available to each client. We are also looking into setting live alerts that would notify us as soon as someone tries to temper with the GPS units.
In addition to this, we have an Alistair Group human tracking team that works in day and night shifts to ensure tracking occurs 24 hours a day. Our team carries out driver updates a minimum of four times a day, using phone/radio communication. We have found that with a combination of dedicated IT and Tracking teams we are able to provide complete transparency to both our Operations team and clients about the current location and status of all vehicles/shipments.

2. Convoys
When transporting a high-value commodity like copper Alistair Group has a strict convoy policy. The term convoy refers to a group of vehicles travelling together for mutual protection and support.
Trucks carrying high-value cargo, such as copper, always move in a convoy of at least three trucks. It becomes more difficult for perpetrators to attack/hijack trucks that travel together at all times. This is not only safer for the cargo but also our drivers.

Alistair Group has taken it a step further and implemented convoy trackers who are part of the tracking team but dedicated to monitoring high-value cargo convoys. They don’t call or speak to drivers, they merely monitor the GPS and escalate incidents where a convoy is broken.

3. Escorts
More increasingly we have noticed the importance of escorts when transporting copper cross-border. Copper is a highly targeted commodity and theft attempts have increased considerably over the past few years. Therefore we advise all our clients to add this additional safety measure when transporting with us.
Depending on our client’s willingness and need; escorts can be organized from point of origin through to the final destination, or only added to a certain stretch of the route eg: DRC. Alternatively, some clients provide their own escorts from the point of origin to the final destination.

4. Approved parking locations
Trucks parked in unclassified or unsecured parking places are involved in over 50% of the cargo losses reported annually and involve thefts of products valued at tens of millions of dollars. Our no-night-driving policy prevents drivers from being on the road after dusk. Therefore safe parking and overnight resting areas for our drives and trucks are a necessity. Alistair Group has identified safe areas and parking locations throughout our routes that we utilise as dedicated and preapproved parking areas. Parking in another location is strictly prohibited.

5 – Master the Basics
When it comes to transporting copper it is crucial to master the basics so that full attention can be given to the safety and security aspects that accompany the logistics behind this commodity.

  • Ensure that loading and offloading happened effectively and efficiently.
  • Lash your copper securely and cover it with a tarp.
  • Conduct a proper briefing with each driver, carried out by a fleet manager, to ensure they know what to do and who to call in case of an emergency.
  • Upskill your drivers and ensure they are trained to stay alert and conquer the terrains they will be driving in.

 | 01 November 2022