Tag Archives: Africa

Metso Outotec to deliver first integrated beneficiation and pelletising plant

Metso Outotec says it has signed a landmark contract for the delivery of an iron ore beneficiation and travelling grate pelletising plant to Africa.

While the parties have agreed to not disclose the value of the contract, the scope of delivery includes the engineering and supply of key process equipment for the beneficiation and pelletising plant.

In addition, Metso Outotec will provide site supervision and commissioning services and deliver automation and training for the project, which the OEM conducted early engineering works for in 2020.

“This new greenfield plant is the first integrated beneficiation and pelletising plant we are delivering globally,” Jari Ålgars, President, Metals business area, said. “It will feature Metso Outotec’s sustainable proprietary technology, such as Low NOx burners to minimise emissions in the process, as well as state-of-the-art digital solutions, including our Optimus™ process optimiser and a green pellet-size control system.”

Optimising energy management at B2Gold’s Fekola mine

The delivery of a cutting-edge 17 MW/15 MWh energy storage platform and Wärtsilä’s advanced GEMS system is optimising energy management at B2Gold’s Fekola gold in Mali, Luke Witmer* writes.

Since B2Gold first acquired the Fekola gold mine, located in a remote corner of southwest Mali, exploration studies revealed the deposits to be almost double the initial estimates.

A recent site expansion has just been completed, and while the existing power units provide enough power to support the increase in production, the company sought to reduce its energy costs, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and increase power reliability.

The addition of a 35 MWp solar photovoltaic (PV) plant and 17 MW/15 MWh of energy storage to the existing 64 MW thermal engine plant was decided. This new energy mix is anticipated to save over 13 million litres of fuel, reduce carbon emissions by 39,000 t/y, and generate a payback in just over four years.

Such an elaborate hybrid configuration needs a powerful brain to deliver on all its potential: Wärtsilä’s GEMS, an advanced energy management system, has been set up to control the energy across the fleet of power sources, thermal, renewable, and battery storage. The integration, control, and optimisation capabilities provided by GEMS allow the thermal units to be run at the most efficient rate and enable the battery storage to handle the large load step changes and volatility of the solar PV generation assets.

Integrated hybrid energy solution

In the context of the Fekola mine, which is an off-grid electrical island, the battery is performing a lot of different services simultaneously, including frequency response, voltage support, shifting solar energy, and providing spinning reserves. The energy load is very flat, with a steady consumption rate around 40 MW as the mining equipment is operating consistently, 24/7. However, if an engine trips offline and fails, the battery serves as an emergency backstop. The controls reserve enough battery energy capacity to fill the power gap for the time it takes to get another engine started, and the software inside each inverter enables the battery to respond instantaneously to any frequency deviation.

The reciprocating engines operate most efficiently at 85-90% of their capacity: this is their ‘sweet spot’. But if there is a sudden spike in demand, if a little more power is needed, or if mining equipment is coming online, then another engine needs to be run to meet the extra load.

With the battery providing spinning reserves, the engines can be kept running at their sweet spot, reducing the overall cost per kilowatt hour. Moreover, with the solar plant providing power during the day, three to four engines can be shut down over this period, providing a quiet time to carry out preventive maintenance. This really helps the maintenance cycle, ensuring that the engines operate in a more efficient manner.

Solar PV volatility can be intense. On a bright day with puffy clouds passing by, a solar farm of this size can easily see ramps of 25 MW over a couple of minutes. This requires intelligent controls, dynamically checking the amount of solar that can be let into the grid without causing an issue for the engine loadings or without overloading the battery.

Conducting the orchestra

The GEMS intelligent software provides the optimisation layer that controls all the power sources to ensure that they work together in harmony. The user interface (UI) gives access to all the data and presents it in a user-friendly way. Accessible remotely, all operations are simulated on a digital twin in the cloud to verify the system controls and simulate the most efficient operating scenarios to lower the cost of energy.

This is an important software feature, both during and after commissioning as it allows operators to train on the platform ahead of time and familiarise themselves with the automated controls and dynamic curtailment of renewables. The UI provides the forecast for renewables and the battery charge status at any given moment, it can provide push email or phone notifications for alerts; telling operators when to turn off an engine and when to turn it back on.

The software is constantly analysing the data and running the math to solve the economic dispatch requirements and unit commitment constraints to ensure grid reliability and high engine efficiency. Load forecasting integrates the different trends and patterns that are detectable in historic data as well as satellite based solar forecasting to provide a holistic approach to dispatching power. The Fekola site has a sky imager, or cloud tracking camera with a fisheye lens, that provides solar forecasts for the next half hour in high temporal resolution.

To ensure that operators really understand the platform, and have visibility over the advanced controls, the UI provides probability distributions of the solar forecast. Tracking the forecast errors enables operators to see whether the solar is overproducing or underproducing what the forecast was expecting at the time and provides visibility to the operators on the key performance indicators. This feedback is an important part of the machine/human interface and provides operators with insight if an engine is required to be turned on at short notice.

Automated curtailment enables the optimisation of the system providing a reactivity that people cannot match. By continually monitoring the engine loadings and battery, the system is ready to clamp down on solar if it gets too volatile or exceeds some spinning reserve requirement. For example, if a large, unexpected cloud arrives, the battery is dispatched to fill the gap while the engines ramp up. Once the cloud disappears, however, the engines remain committed to operating for a few hours, and the solar power is transferred to recharge the battery.

Over time, as load patterns shift, the load forecasting algorithm will also be dynamically updating to match the changing realities of the load. As mining equipment hits layers of harder rock, increasing the power load, the system will adjust and dispatch the engines accordingly.

The new gold standard

The Fekola mine project incorporates the largest off-grid hybrid power solution in the world, demonstrating the growing case for clean energy and its sustainable and economic potential for mines in Africa and beyond.

As the cost of batteries and solar panels continues to become more competitive, hybrid solutions are proving to be a realistic and effective means for increasing energy reliability and lowering operating costs in any context, thus freeing up resources to improve the human condition; whether through cheaper materials and gainful employment, or by providing broader access to reliable electricity for healthcare, education, and improved quality of life.

*This piece was written by Luke Witmer, General Manager, Data Science, Wärtsilä Energy Storage and Optimization

Astec Industries looks to boost Africa and Middle East business with Aramine tie-up

Astec Industries, through its newly organised Africa and Middle East (AME) business unit, has announced a distribution partnership with France-based mining and underground solutions specialist Aramine.

This strategic alliance will enhance the supply, distribution and service of Astec mining, quarrying and materials handling equipment in numerous African countries, Astec said. This includes rock breaker systems, rock crushers, feeders, vibrating screens, conveyors, washing and classifying equipment for open-pit mines, alongside underground mining products and bulk material handling systems.

Aramine has been appointed as a dealer for Astec Material Solutions products in Mauritania, Mali, Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo, and Niger in West Africa, as well as in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco in the Maghreb region.

Vinesh Surajlall, Director – Material Solutions at Astec AME (pictured), said: “The expansion of the Astec portfolio that will be distributed by Aramine is an important evolution in our commercial relations, as we collaborate in very active and demanding markets in West Africa and the Maghreb.

“With this partnership, we are developing a new customer proximity offer, combining expertise, services and quality products.”

Jaime Martel, Key Regional and Product Manager and Head of Distribution Partnerships at Aramine, says the new venture represents Astec’s confidence in Aramine. The two organisations have enjoyed a longstanding distribution partnership which previously encompassed only the BTI range of rock breaker and boom systems.

“The extension of our alliance, to cover the material solutions offering, will equip us further in meeting the needs of our customers in the regions,” he noted.

In addition to its recognised expertise and technical service, Aramine will leverage its networks of subsidiaries and partners in the regions, Astec said.

The recent group restructuring and the establishment of Astec Industries AME will deliver further benefits for Astec customers in the region, the company says.

“The move forms part of Astec Industries’ international expansion strategy, with regional sales organisations established to improve customer interaction and support for the complete range of Astec products,” Astec said. “Astec Industries AME is one of these regional sales organisations and will be responsible for business relationships in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. The AME offices are based in Elandsfontein, Johannesburg, with regional sales managers positioned strategically within the region to support the business’s dealer network and customers.”

Surajlall concluded: “We look forward to contributing to the continued growth of our customers’ businesses through this enhanced structure, optimised product range and support structures throughout the Astec Industries organisations. This expanded partnership with Aramine represents an important opportunity to strengthen the presence of Astec Industries Inc in these significant territories.”

Symboticware partners with Ramjack Technology Solutions to expand global reach

Symboticware’s vehicle sensor data telemetry and analytics solutions is likely to receive a bigger global audience after the IoT specialist signed a reseller agreement with Ramjack Technology Solutions.

Ramjack will be a Value Added Reseller in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and parts of Latin America, according to the company. Ramjack is a specialised, systems integrator dedicated to operations technology for the mining industry.

Symboticware, meanwhile, focuses on standardised information-based technology to enhance productivity, sustainability, profitability and safety through real-time data management solutions.

“Through partnerships with best-of-breed, global technology manufacturers and custom-designed service offerings, they provide mining customers with technology solutions that guarantee improvements in safety, productivity and effectiveness,” Symboticware said of Ramjack.

“Using a pragmatic combination of advanced technology products and services – purpose-built for the harsh mining environment – Ramjack bridges the critical gap between original technology manufacturers and mine operations, enabling mines to realise the full potential their technology promised.”

Kirk Petroski, President & CEO Symboticware Inc, said partnering with Ramjack as a value added reseller extends the company’s global reach, and delivers capabilities for advancements in industrial IoT and artificial intelligence into mining corridors “where a significant positive impact on mobile asset safety, visibility and efficiency can be realised”.

Mike Jackson, President & CEO of Ramjack Technology Solutions, said: “We’re very excited about our partnership with Symboticware. Mines in the regions that Ramjack serves are poised and ready to take real advantage of Symboticware’s vehicle sensor data telemetry and analytics solutions. We are looking forward to the opportunity to demonstrate the rapid returns that this technology can offer to both open-pit and underground mines.”

Weba’s custom-designed chutes find favour in Africa

Weba Chute Systems’ Wade Vandenberg says mines across Africa are recognising the value of the company’s custom-designed chutes in controlling material flow, extending wear life and reducing maintenance downtime.

The South Africa-based company’s transfer point solutions have made their way into mines across Africa, from platinum to diamond operations, to gold, coal and copper mines.

In addition to mining hotspots including Ghana, Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana, Weba Chute Systems have been installed in countries like Tanzania, Mauritania and Eritrea, it says. Authorised Weba Chute Systems agents are deployed to support customers in key countries, while technical experts from the company’s head office in Germiston, Gauteng, South Africa, are on call to assist.

Vandenberg, Weba Chute Systems’ Technical Advisor, Africa, said: “Not only do these operations gain the benefits of controlled material flow in their operations, but they experience, first-hand, how our engineering design extends wear life and reduces maintenance downtime.”

He highlighted that better dust control – a key part of health and safety policies in the mining sector – is another important benefit Weba chutes bring to an operation.

“Our state-of-the-art digital engineering design facilities and expertise makes use of the latest technologies to simulate the specific material flow conditions in each customer’s application,” Vandenberg said. “This allows us to apply our philosophy that no two chute designs are identical, and to scientifically accommodate exact flow characteristics into our design.”

Discrete element modelling allows close control over the flow of material through the chute. This minimises turbulence, reducing the levels of dust created in the working area. It also cuts spillage levels, which, in turn, means a saving of valuable material and less time spent on cleaning activities.

Izak Potgieter, Systems Manager at Weba Chute Systems, said: “We work towards the ISO dust management standards, supporting our customers in managing health and safety in this critical area of transfer points. Our testing measures dust down to 0.03 micron particles, to make sure that our designs meet stringent health-related targets.”

Flow control also creates more material-on-material movement to reduce wear on chute liners, according to Weba. This ensures longer liner life when compared with that of conventional chutes. Custom design and use of simulation technology allow for the wear life to be carefully predicted, based on operating conditions, the company says.

Vandenberg said: “Our technical expertise and solutions-oriented approach mean that customers can always rely on us. When we commission one of our chutes, it is part of an ongoing productivity journey with our customer, no matter where they are located.”

Enl Electrical focused on timely project deliveries in Africa

Enl Electrical, an electrical control and instrumentation specialist (EC&I) contractor, says its work on a large copper mine expansion project, in Zambia, is just one of many contracts it is delivering timely solutions for.

A member of the Zest WEG Group, Enl Electrical works extensively with project houses and directly for mining companies, and is a preferred supplier to many of them, according to the company.

Russell Drake, General Manager Operations at EnI Electrical, said: “Large project implementation is complex, and is often made more challenging by the logistical constraints that many African projects face. There are invariably delays at various stages, which places more pressure on the EC&I contractor, who must in many ways ‘complete’ the roll-out.”

Calvin Fisher, EnI Electrical Overhead Lines Manager, emphasises the importance of on-time completion, combined with reliable electricity supply: “With the various issues that may delay stages of a project, there is usually growing urgency as the deadline date approaches. This is normally when EnI Electrical enters the project, so we are accustomed to working under some extra pressure. Our dynamic team actively looks for ways to advance the work, especially when the previous phases may not be quite ready for us to begin.”

The linking up of electrical infrastructure, connections and equipment is one of the final stages to allow any project to start operating. In this role, EnI Electrical installs a wide range of electrical infrastructure including medium and low voltage cable reticulation, motor control centres, lighting, earthing protection and energy management systems.

Its control and instrumentation work ranges from process instrumentation and plant automation, to custom control stations and fibre or copper networks, it says. The company also designs and installs overhead power lines (up to 161 kV) and substations.

Drake said: “Our permanent bases in countries like Zambia and Ghana – with significant in-country investment in technical assets – underpins the efficiency of our work. We understand our working environment very well, so we can quote accurately and fairly. This is vital to reduce variations during projects, as this can be disruptive to the project and the client.”

GeoDrill backs IronRidge Africa exploration plan with ‘drilling for equity program’

IronRidge Resources has entered a binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) with GeoDrill as part of a “drilling for equity program” of up to $4 million, or 40,000m of drilling at the exploration company’s gold and lithium portfolio throughout Africa.

GeoDrill, established in 1998, is a leading exploration drilling company with a fleet of 67 drill rigs that has operations is Ghana, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, and Zambia.

The MoU will see IronRidge advance all projects across Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Chad, while maintaining cash resources, it said.

IronRidge’s Chief Executive Officer, Vincent Mascolo, said: “We are delighted to announce that the agreement with GeoDrill secures access to expert drilling capabilities, which will allow the company to effectively advance its portfolios, whilst helping preserve cash resources.

GeoDrill brings decades of operational expertise throughout West Africa and, with operational centres in both Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, provides excellent synergies with the Ccmpany’s current jurisdictions of focus.”

Dave Harper, Chief Executive Officer of GeoDrill, said: “Having previously worked with IronRidge on their Cape Coast lithium project and Côte d’Ivoire gold projects, we understand their exploration business model and it was an easy decision for us to partner with IronRidge in this drilling for equity program.”

Under the terms of the binding MoU, any drilling services provided by GeoDrill will be paid by either; cash, shares, or a combination of cash and shares on a 50/50 basis at IronRidge’s election.

The agreement is based on a competitive quotation process, which provides for the issue of ordinary shares in IronRidge for 50% of the drilling cost up to a value of $4 million in two $2 million stages.

“The agreed payment mechanism comprises a share valuation of 90% of the 15-day volume weighted average price against the value of each monthly invoice,” IronRidge said.

Geodrill has commenced drilling works in Ghana where approximately 13,200 m of drilling has been planned at the Cape Coast lithium project over a staged reverse circulation and diamond drilling program dependent on results. It is also currently continuing field mapping and sampling programs over the Zaranou gold project, in Côte d’Ivoire, ahead of a planned air-core drill program.

In Côte d’Ivoire, IronRidge is assessing air-core results over its Bianouan and Bodite licences to determine the next steps as well as soils and trenching results over its Kineta and Marahui licences.

“At this stage the company will maintain its focus on the Côte d’Ivoire gold portfolio and the Ghana lithium portfolio,” IronRidge said.

Marthinusen & Coutts expertise keeps Africa mine pumping

Marthinusen & Coutts has come to the rescue of one of Africa’s wettest mines by rehabilitating medium voltage pump motors at the operation.

M&C’s Cleveland Engineering Services Division, a division of ACTOM (Pty) Ltd, recently teamed up with the Marthinusen & Coutts Kitwe facility, in Zambia, to carry out the work.

A pump original equipment manufacturer had approached M&C to assess several underground pump motors.

“There was an urgency to the situation due to the risk of flooding should there be any undue interruptions in pumping operations,” M&C, which calls itself the largest after-market service provider of electrical and mechanical rotating machines in Africa, said.

“Investigations revealed the motors driving the pumps were in a poor condition, with this severely affecting the availability and the performance of the pump chambers,” the company said. This required the initiation of a detailed refurbishment program, which involved the procurement of spare parts, the setting up of an on-site bearing store, and taking the lead in returning the motors to full service, according to M&C.

“Where possible, the motors were repaired in-situ – thus avoiding any possible crisis of underground flooding – while others were removed for full refurbishment,” the company said. “The highest level of engineering practices where followed during repairs, re-installation and commissioning.”

Ongoing support is also being provided, including the training of mine maintenance staff, the development of installation and commissioning specifications, conducting of regular site inspections, management of spares, and continual engagement with mine engineering management, according to the company.

Marthinusen & Coutts operates six state-of-the-art repair and manufacturing facilities – in Johannesburg, Benoni, Sasolburg, Rustenburg, Harare and Kitwe – and, supported by a network of technically equipped partners throughout Africa, provides services not only in Africa but globally.

Weighing up the total cost of ownership in mine slurry pump applications

Integrated Pump Technology is stressing to Africa-based mining companies the need to ensure high-quality OEM products are specified in any slurry pumping applications on mine sites.

If incorrect pump choices are made in these demanding applications, it can lead to high maintenance and repair costs and even catastrophic failures, according to the company.

Colin Adams, Managing Director of the distributor, says the company often receives enquiries from clients that have already made the mistake of trying to cut corners by using non-OEM, low-quality products.

“Slurry pumps need to be up to the task of handling high volumes of abrasive material, and when this is not the case these failures lead to costly production downtime with the obvious knock-on effects,” he said. “For a number of years, we have been cautioning the market and urging mine operators to carefully consider the overall total cost of operating slurry pumps when making decisions on which units to install.”

Integrated Pump Technology is the authorised distributor for Grindex submersible pumps. Included in its product lineup is the Grindex Bravo range, which Adams says, offer a good return on investment as the units are engineered to achieve lower operating and maintenance costs.

Commenting on why a submersible slurry pump is a better option for slurry pumping, Adams says submersibles offer several benefits over dry-mounted pumps. They do not require any support structure, need less space for operation and are very easy to install.

The Grindex Bravo range (pictured here) is produced to operate over the complete pump curve, not just one specific duty point, according to Integrated Pump Technology. This means the pump can be used in numerous applications within its range; not a case of “one pump – one application”.

Grindex Bravo pumps are fitted with a cooling jacket and agitator for effective slurry pumping. Pumps in the range can handle slurry and fluids with a high content of highly abrasive solids in sizes up to 50 mm at maximum heads from 17-45 m. Wear is reduced by using NiHard 4 for all hydraulic components, and these pumps can handle liquids with pH values from 4-10.

Adams also points to the high level of support available to customers across Africa through Integrated Pump Technology’s distributor network, which is underpinned by the company’s experienced technically competent African team. Ready access to parts also forms part of the support system, ensuring optimum uptime for customers.

Magna tyres find their way to Africa’s largest coal mine

One of the largest mining contractors in the world operating in Africa’s largest coal mine has selected 40.00R57 Magna MA04+C Giant tyres for its Cat 793D rigid dump trucks.

Magna says outstanding tyres are essential for the transport of huge amounts of coal to cover the total haul distance from the pit to the dump area without any downtime or failures and its own tyres fit that bill.

Magna’s proven track record regarding premium quality giant tyres was enough to convince the client, according to the company. The contractors is now benefitting from increased productivity and reduced operating costs as a result of the tyre selection, Magna added.

“The all-steel radial constructed tyres especially designed for coal applications are extremely suitable for the severe conditions in which they are used. The deep aggressive E4 tread pattern and excellent resistance to sidewall damages makes this Giant tyre extremely durable,” Magna said.

As part of Magna’s added value, a site visit to the coal mine including an application analysis and quality check on current running MA04+ tyres was organised. This check showed an “impressive toughness and efficiency” which will result in a reduction in costs per hour to operate the trucks, according to Magna.

In addition, recommendations on compounds for other dump trucks from the contractor’s mining fleet have been given in order to provide the client with the best suitable Giant Magna tyres in the near future.