The start-up of Exxaro’s Belfast coal mine in Mpumalanga province, South Africa, has been aided by Concor Infrastructure’s work on building dams, roads, platforms and other infrastructure, the infrastructure group said.
At work since October 2017, Concor Infrastructure is constructing four major dams, 26 concrete platforms and terraces, 37 internal roads of 16 km in length, and is upgrading almost 13 km of provincial roads, among other aspects at the mine, it said.
This month, Exxaro announced that Belfast had produced its first coal six months ahead of schedule. The mine, which was only expected to start producing coal in 2020, was expected to cost R3.3 billion ($221 million) to build and would be a “first-of-its-kind digital mine”, ranking as the last good-quality A-grade, high-yield coal deposit in Mpumalanga, the coal miner said.
According to Concor Infrastructure Contracts Manager, Pierre van Vuuren, these tailings dams are being lined with both a geosynthetic clay liner and high-density polyethylene sheets, in accordance with the water use licence and related environmental regulations. Various structures around the dams are also being installed, including large silt traps, drying beds, inflow chutes to prevent scouring, and spillways and sumps.
Among the concrete platforms and terraces are two primary crusher bases being built for the run-of-mine crushing facilities. The various structures being built by Concor will demand almost 350 t of steel reinforcing and nearly 2,700 t of bulk cement. Other inputs will be around 15,000 t of 19 mm aggregate and nearly 13,000 t of crusher sand.
Extensive upgrading is being done on the D1770 and D1110 provincial roads – for the transport of coal to the rail siding – including eight major culverts under the roadway, Concor said. For all the project’s road works, almost 9.5 km of subsoil drains are to be installed, as well as 2.7 km of stormwater culverts. G5 and G6 construction material comes from an external quarry and crushing plant about 30 km from site towards Carolina.
Contracts Manager, Mabandla Dlamini, says the project has had a substantial local impact with a core labour complement of about 180 personnel being accommodated in the Emakhazeni municipal district. The overall workforce managed by Concor Infrastructure, with contractors, totals closer to 700 – all of which are transported 30 km daily by the local taxi network.
Dlamini also says various subcontracts are outsourced to local small enterprises, such as drainage, stone pitching, paving, kerbing, fencing, security services and catering. Diesel is sourced from a local fuel depot in Belfast with the project expected to consume about 4.3 million litres of diesel in site-wide applications.
Over 150 items of plant and equipment are active on the site, according to Site Agent, Sarel van der Berg, with about 40 items such as articulated dump trucks, tippers and graders sourced from local plant hirers.
Belfast is expected to produce 2.7 Mt of good-quality thermal coal a year for at least the next 17 years, starting in 2020. There is also potential for a second phase, which could take the mine life to 30 years.