Tag Archives: Cementation Americas

Cementation, Sandvik and Micon achieve flexible raisebore-based sinking at Solvay Chemicals #5 shaft

Cementation Americas has announced the completion of the full faced raisebored raise at Solvay Chemicals #5 shaft in Green River, Wyoming, USA.

The project required the company to complete a 22 ft (6.7 m) diameter shaft, complete with concrete liner, from surface to a depth of 1,506 ft (459 m).

Concrete liner thickness increased as the depth of the shaft increased, so the initial concept was to complete a pilot slash raise with a raisebore drill and then slash from the top down to achieve the differing diameters to accommodate concrete liner thickness, the company explained. Cementation instead proposed a full face raisebored shaft solution with variable diameters for each section.

“We worked closely with Sandvik to design, engineer and manufacture a reaming head that could be diminished in diameter rather than manufacturing different diameters of outside wings,” Cementation said. “Final design allowed for five diameter options; maximum of 26.67 ft (8.1 m), down to 24.48 ft, in increments of 6.6 in (168 mm). The 26.67 ft. diameter reamer consisted of 12 individual sections, 46 cutters and weighed 136,000 lbs (61,689 kg).”

Following completion of 68 ft deep collar excavation and lining, Cementation’s Strata 950 Raise Drill was set up over the collar and a 16 in diameter pilot hole was drilled with Micon’s rotary vertical drilling system (RVDS). When the completed pilot hole was surveyed, the total deviation from vertical was found to be less than 4 in over entire length of pilot hole, according to the company.

Based on the pilot hole survey, it was determined that the first leg of the shaft would be reamed to 26.13-ft diameter for 588 ft of shaft, followed by 25.02-ft diameter for the next 285 ft of shaft and 24.47-ft diameter for the final 535 ft of shaft to surface.

Reaming of the shaft was completed on April 24 and the Cementation shaft crews are now in the process of completing the shaft lining.

This raise was one of the largest ever pulled in the Americas and was completed without incident, the company noted.

Its success was the result of a collaborative effort by all parties involved by providing the best technical solution for the Solvay Chemicals #5 Shaft, which is part of the company’s trona operations in Green River.

Pictured is the Solvay reaming head at the Sandvik workshop in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

Murray & Roberts Mining Platform order book returns to pre-pandemic levels

The Mining Platform of Murray & Roberts, a leading mining contracting business, is fast putting the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic behind it and its order book has now recovered to pre-pandemic levels, according to Mike da Costa.

“Our order book was eroded in the immediate aftermath of the global economic shutdown caused by the pandemic, but has now recovered nicely,” da Costa, who is CEO of the Mining Platform, said. “It now totals R22.2 billion ($1.44 billion) which is sharply up on the R17.9 billion of a year ago. Future prospects also look good as there is a significant pipeline of new projects that we’re bidding on.”

The Murray & Roberts Mining Platform consists of three regional businesses. These are Murray & Roberts Cementation, headquartered in Johannesburg but with branches in Kitwe in Zambia and Accra in Ghana; Cementation Americas (which incorporates Cementation USA), based in Salt Lake City, which handles the Americas; and RUC Cementation, which operates out of Perth in Australia and works throughout Australasia and Southeast Asia.

“We’re active in virtually every major mining jurisdiction,” da Costa says. “Notable mines and projects where we are currently working include the Venetia Underground Project in South Africa, the Jansen potash project in Canada, the Kennecott Utah Copper Keystone project in the US, the Oyu Tolgoi copper/gold mine in Mongolia, the Grasberg copper/gold mine in Indonesia and the Tanami gold mine in Australia.”

Mike da Costa, CEO of the Murray & Roberts Mining Platform

The Mining Platform, which in Murray & Roberts’ 2021 financial year generated revenues totalling approximately R9.5 billion, offers services spanning every aspect of underground mining, including feasibility studies, specialist engineering, vertical and decline shaft construction, mine development, specialist mining services such as raise boring and grouting, and contract mining.

Murray & Roberts Cementation, the African arm of the global Mining Platform, has been noted for its technical capabilities and, in particular, its shaft-sinking expertise, over the decades. It has played a vital role in the development of South Africa’s deep level gold mining industry and is currently turning over approximately R3.5 billion a year, with aims to lift this to R4.5 billion, the company says.

Commenting on the current performance of Murray & Roberts Cementation, its Managing Director, Mike Wells, says the bulk of its work is in South Africa.

“Historically, we’ve worked all over Africa but at the moment our African presence – outside of South Africa – is largely confined to some raiseboring contracts we have in Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso and Tanzania, as well as a contract at the Navachab gold mine in Namibia where the client is developing a trial underground mine. In South Africa, however, we are extremely busy. We’ve definitely put the impact of the pandemic behind us.”

Wells says a particular highlight for Murray & Roberts Cementation at the moment is the coal sector.

“We’re working at New Clydesdale colliery through our Boipelo joint venture,” he notes. “We’re also at Matla 1, where we are doing stonework to re-establish the mine in a new location. Another opportunity in the coal sector is to do stonework by the method of road heading and we’re actively pursuing work of this type.”

Murray & Roberts Cementation’s flagship contract is the Venetia Underground Project, where the company’s work on the sinking and equipping of the two vertical shafts the project requires is now well advanced, with the shaft sinking phase nearing completion. Although Murray & Roberts Cementation’s current scope of work runs through to about 2024, Wells believes there is a reasonable prospect of the company remaining active at the mine for years to come, given the scale of the VUP.

In the PGM field, Murray & Roberts Cementation has worked for several years on various aspects of the giant Platreef project, near Mokopane (pictured above), and is just starting its latest contract at the site, which will see it carrying out development for the initial Phase 1 mine. An interesting feature here is that the contract will see Murray & Roberts Cementation using a battery-powered mining fleet – owned by the client, Ivanplats – for the first time.

Murray & Roberts Cementation is working at the New Clydesdale colliery through its Boipelo joint venture

Moving to safety, Wells labelled Murray & Roberts Cementation’s safety record as ‘outstanding’.

“We notched up five million fatality-free shifts just over a year ago, which was a major milestone, and we should hit the 6 million mark shortly,” he said. “We’ve now been fatality free for around six-and-half years, which is a truly exceptional run. We attribute our success to our Major Accident Prevention program, as well as the excellent training we provide at our world-class Training Academy at our Bentley Park premises, near Carletonville.”

The task of bringing new business into Murray & Roberts Cementation is the responsibility of Allan Widlake, New Business Director, who says there is plenty of scope for the company to grow both in South Africa and the rest of Africa.

“Clients across the board are starting to put out new tenders and projects that were previously on hold,” he states. “This is particularly the case in South Africa, but we’re encouraged by developments in other parts of Africa. In Zambia, for example, there are definitely some opportunities emerging on the Copperbelt.”

Widlake says Murray & Roberts Cementation is differentiated from most other players in the market by the breadth of its offering, its procurement ability, its balance sheet, its HR skills, its safety record and the training facilities at Bentley Park.

“Our Training Academy is a huge asset and is particularly important now that localisation of employment opportunities is a requirement on virtually all contracts,” he said. “We can take people with no mining experience and bring them up to an impressive level of competence very quickly by putting them through Bentley Park.”

Moving back to the global perspective, da Costa says the relatively recent acquisition by Murray & Roberts of Terra Nova Technologies in the US and Insig Technologies in Australia will significantly expand the Mining Platform’s capabilities.
San Diego-based Terra Nova has given the platform a strong foothold in the materials handling market. The company designs, supplies and commissions overland conveyors, crushing/conveying systems, mobile stacking systems and in-pit crushing and conveying systems.

“Terra Nova is a perfect fit for Murray & Roberts’ Mining Platform and gives us the capability of delivering, for example, conveying systems of up to 12 000 t/h capacity,” da Costa said. “Its biggest market is North America but it is also active in South America and has an office in Santiago in Chile. It has, in fact, just won a major contract in Chile. Our intention is to grow the business by leveraging our global footprint.”

Commenting on the Insig acquisition, da Costa says it takes Murray & Roberts into high-tech territory, as the company specialises in developing IoT (Internet of Things) systems and remote control solutions in the mining field.

“We’ve been working on a digital strategy for the Mining Platform for some time now and the acquisition of Insig is central to our digital journey,” concludes da Costa. “We will be using Insig’s systems in house initially but will ultimately market them to the wider mining industry. We see them as being vital in our move to increase efficiencies, cut costs and increase safety through digitisation.”

NioCorp extends Cementation Americas’ stay at Elk Creek project

NioCorp Developments says it has signed a contract with Cementation USA, part of the Cementation Americas group, to continue advancing detailed engineering work associated with the Elk Creek Superalloy Materials project in Nebraska, USA.

Under the contract, the underground mine contracting and engineering company will conduct an evaluation of the current design for the project’s underground mine and prepare a detailed cost estimate for the final detailed engineering that would be required to bring the mine design to “Issued for Construction” status, NioCorp said.

As previously announced, NioCorp selected Cementation as the lead engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the underground aspects of the project. The company expects to engage Cementation, if and when additional project financing becomes available, to undertake Phase 2 of the contract, which involves completion of the detailed engineering for the mine.

An April 2019 feasibility study on Elk Creek estimated average production of 7,220 t/y of ferroniobium, 95 t/y tpa of scandium trioxide and 11,642 t/y of titanium dioxide over the 36-year mine life.

Wood and Cementation Americas complete Terra Nova Technologies deal

Wood says it has completed the sale of conveyor systems business Terra Nova Technologies (TNT), close to six weeks after the deal was announced.

Following a strategic review of its portfolio, Wood identified potential asset disposals which were expected to generate proceeds in the range of $200-$300 million, with the TNT sale making a “good contribution to the asset disposal program”, it said.

The TNT business was sold to Cementation Americas, a firm owned by Murray & Roberts Holdings Ltd, for $38 million.

Back in late-March when the deal was announced, David Kemp, Wood Chief Financial Officer, said: “Terra Nova Technologies has a strong track record in delivering material handling equipment to our customers. Wood’s strategy going forward is to focus on asset-light solutions rather than the manufacture/fabrication of equipment.”

Cementation Americas said TNT has earned a solid reputation for providing quality design, supply and commissioning services for crushing and screening plants, overland conveyors, heap leach systems and mobile stacking systems for waste and dry tailings.

Justin Oleson, President of Cementation Americas, said at the time: “The purchase of TNT fits well within Cementation’s strategy to improve our ability to serve clients, both geographically and across the mining value chain. The combining of Cementation and TNT complements both our underground and surface design/build portfolios, and better positions Cementation to support our client’s total mining needs.”