Tag Archives: KwaZulu-Natal

South Africa coal mines continue proximity detection rollout, Booyco Electronics says

South Africa-based proximity detection system (PDS) specialist Booyco Electronics says it is continues to grow its footprint in the domestic coal mining sector as more mines work towards “Level 9” compliance.

According to Booyco Electronics CEO, Anton Lourens, the scale of recent orders from underground collieries and open-cast operations are testament to the company’s leadership in the sector.

“We support an extensive population of our proximity detection equipment on trackless mining machines (TMMs) in coal mines and expect to see enthusiastic take-up of our new-generation Booyco CXS product,” Lourens says. He highlights that the customer base includes not only the Mpumalanga coalfields, but also those in KwaZulu-Natal province – supported by the company’s network of branches including Witbank and Richards Bay.

Regulations currently demand that any electrically-powered TMM in an underground mine must be equipped with a PDS, but many coal operations have a combination of diesel and electric units. He emphasises that the regulatory framework will soon enforce Level 9 requirements – with more advanced collision avoidance capability – for both diesel and electric TMMs.

“We are working closely with many OEMs and mining customers on aligning and testing our respective equipment for Level 9 compliance,” he says. “It should be remembered, however, that the industry still has considerable work to do on the application of PDS technology to surface diesel TMMs, which pose a range of technical challenges.”

An active participant in the mining industry’s Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table (EMESRT), Booyco Electronics says it collaborates extensively with stakeholders to support mines’ safety and compliance efforts.

“Coal mines have a key role to play in the testing and application of collision avoidance systems, as the industry upgrades to ever-more effective safety protocols,” Lourens says. “The Booyco CXS consolidates all we have learnt in our 15 years in business, taking that vital step from a warning system to a fully-fledged collision avoidance system.”

He highlighted that the Booyco CXS retains the intrinsically safe technology of previous generations, making it more cost effective and generally easier to manage. “The common alternative to intrinsically safe equipment is for suppliers to add a flameproof enclosure to house the PDS, which tends to be heavy and impractical,” he says.

Another contribution to safety and productivity is the Booyco Electronics Asset Management System (BEAMS) – a central information hub for a mine’s PDS assets. Centralising information from PDS hardware and monitoring devices, BEAMS enhances operations by identifying patterns of unsafe behaviour that can be promptly addressed, according to the company.

Rio Tinto bringing Richards Bay Minerals back online

Close to four weeks after deciding to curtail operations at its Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) operations in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, Rio Tinto says it has started the process of resuming work at the zircon, rutile, iron and slag works.

The U-turn follows discussions led by the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Sihle Zikalala, involving all stakeholders focused on securing stability in order to address the issues in the community and provide the stable environment necessary for RBM to resume operations, Rio said.

Rio, which owns 74% of RBM, previously made the call to suspend work to ensure the safety and security of its employees due to an escalation in violence in the communities surrounding the operations.

In the December 4 announcement, it said: “There has been an escalation of criminal activity towards RBM employees and one was shot and seriously injured in the last few days. As a result, all mining operations at RBM have been halted and the smelters are operating at a reduced level, with a minimum number of employees now on site. Construction of the Zulti South project has also been temporarily paused.”

In its latest statement, the company said a phased restart is now in progress across the operation, with RBM expected to return to full operations in early January, leading to regular production in early 2020.

Having previously advised of a force majeure in supply following the suspension, Rio is now contacting customers to say this declaration has been lifted. The company said it would also review the restart of the Zulti South project after normalisation of operations at RBM.

The $463 million Zulti South project will sustain RBM’s current capacity and extend mine life. RBM currently operates four mines in the Zulti North lease area, a mineral separation plant and smelting complex. The Zulti South mine will underpin RBM’s supply of zircon and ilmenite over the life of mine, according to the company.

Bold Baatar, chief executive, Energy & Minerals, said: “The safety and security of our people is always our first priority and we are pleased that we will now be able to get back to work creating value for our people, our communities, South Africa and RBM’s shareholders.

“I would like to thank the Government of South Africa and the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal for their support and assistance in getting us to a position where we can restart operations at RBM. I would also acknowledge the work of community leaders and the police over the previous few weeks.”

Rio previously advised that titanium dioxide slag production for 2019 was expected to be at the bottom end of 2019 guidance of between 1.2-1.4 Mt.

Trafo transforms fortunes at KwaZulu-Natal mining operation

Trafo Power Solutions recently came to the aid of a mining company in KwaZulu-Natal, South, Africa, suffering from a transformer failure.

Following the incident, dry-type transformer specialist, Trafo, designed, built and delivered a non-standard cast-resin replacement for the company – in just five weeks.

David Claassen, Managing Director of Trafo Power Solutions, said: “Once the situation with the old transformer was assessed, it was decided it would be more economical to replace the unit than to embark on major repairs.

“We were able to accommodate the customer’s specifications in our replacement design, and have the unit manufactured by our European partners (the TMC transformers facility, in Italy, pictured) in just four weeks. After that, it took just a week to fly in the transformer and deliver it to the customer.”

Claassen said it is not uncommon for transformer replacements of this scale to take anything from 12 to 14 weeks, with Trafo’s rapid turnaround time highly valued by the customer.

The mine required a 1,600 kVA dry-type DYN11 transformer that stepped 33 kV down to 550 V, with a non-standard tap setting arrangement of seven tap settings instead of the normal five.

Dry-type transformers – also called cast-resin transformers – are growing in popularity as users recognise their safety benefits, as well as their economy and flexibility of placement, according to Trafo. To meet this demand, Trafo works in close collaboration with established and well-resourced manufacturing partners in Europe to source tailored designs that meet customers’ exacting specifications, it said. This comes on top of ongoing after-sales service.