Hydraulic and pneumatic systems for use on a diamond mining vessel

In South Africa, Afripower, trading as Hytec, has completed a project for De Beers Marine involving the design, supply and commissioning of various hydraulic systems and four pneumatic systems for use on a diamond mining vessel. The contract was awarded through a project house, Marine and Mineral Projects and formed part of a larger contract to convert a ship into an offshore mining vessel in order to establish a viable marine mine off the west coast of South Africa. According to Herman van Rensburg, Regional Technical Manager, Hytec, the end-user, De Beers Marine, required a selection of equipment and system designs that met the company’s technical requirements, budget and completion deadlines. “De Beers Marine also required equipment that is reliable and ensures minimum downtime, and is relatively easy to maintain. For these reasons, Bosch Rexroth equipment was specified by the client and is standardised across its fleet.  Our design engineers developed the systems with simplicity, accessibility and maintainability in mind.”

Hytec supplied a complete hydraulic system for the sub-sea diamond mining vehicle (crawler), including the pump set, valve packs, cylinders, thrusters and depth compensation system. The company also supplied the 1,000 kW hydraulic ring main power unit for various deck handling systems, an oil management system, the hydraulic and pneumatic equipment required for four mooring winches, hydraulic maintenance tools and operational spares.

The crawler is used to recover diamond bearing gravel from the seabed and pump it onto the vessel. The diamond bearing gravel is processed on the vessel and diamonds are recovered. The deck equipment and handling systems are utilised to launch and recover the 260 t crawler, and assist the mining ship in maintaining position. 

“We provided the detail design, manufacture, installation, and commissioning of the systems,” van Rensburg states. “The hydraulic design was completed locally with all the hydraulic pumps and valves imported from suppliers in Europe. The cylinders were manufactured in South Africa by Hytec Engineering. All the vessel systems were assembled and tested locally before being sent to the UK where they were fitted onto the vessel by the shipyard.  Once complete, the vessel returned to South Africa and Hytec commissioned all the hydraulic systems in Cape Town Harbour.  The crawler hydraulic system was assembled and tested locally.” The project took 16 months to complete.