Tag Archives: Platinum

Zest WEG helps South Africa platinum miner power up

Zest WEG, looking to accommodate the space constraints of a South African platinum mining customer, is constructing a large diesel powered generator set to be delivered later this year.

The capacity of the 2,500 kVA genset will make it the largest unit yet to be fully load-tested at the company’s genset manufacturing facility in Cape Town, South Africa, according to Craig Bouwer, Projects and Product Manager at Zest WEG.

“In addition to functional testing, we will be equipping ourselves to conduct load testing to 11 kV on this unit,” Bouwer says. “With load-banks in-house, we will be stepping the voltage down to 400 V during the testing, and drawing on MV specialists to ensure a safe and reliable process.”

The genset is a highly technical solution to match the customer’s specific needs, he says. Based on the available space, it is housed within a 12 m ISO shipping container with the electrically-driven radiator mounted on the roof.

Prime-rated at 11 kV and powered by an MTU diesel engine, the genset has been designed in close consultation with the customer over a number of months. Having concluded the engineering design, construction is currently underway in Cape Town.

Bouwer highlighted the detailed and time consuming nature of engineering design for a project of this magnitude and complexity: “Stringent technical requirements demanded lengthy and ongoing collaboration not only with the customer, but between our engineering team and production operations,” he said. “The customer was particularly pleased with our flexibility and the extra effort we applied to ensure the optimal technical returnables for the project.”

As one of the few South Africa-based original equipment manufacturers capable of undertaking a customised genset of this capacity in-house, Zest WEG will also be supplying the control and protection panel from its range of electrical equipment and products.

“To enhance safety and ergonomics, the control panel is in its own compartment within the ISO container,” Bouwer says. “A 1,000 litre bunded day tank has also been installed inside a separate compartment within the container, including a fuel cooler and filtration system.”

The COVID-19 lockdown has had minimal impact on the work schedule, he noted, as planning and communication with the customer could continue regardless, dealing with various technical clarifications. To facilitate the transportation of this large unit to site, it will be shipped as three separate components: the genset, radiator and exhaust system. Once installation is complete – a process that Zest WEG specialists will supervise – its experts will conduct the cold and hot commissioning, and hand over to the customer.

Integrated Pump Technology helps platinum mine dewater decline

Employees of Integrated Pump Technology have come to the  rescue of a platinum mining customer who urgently needed to dewater its decline shaft.

Alfred Kelsey, Key Account Manager at Integrated Pump Technology, explains that the company, as the official Grindex pump distributor for southern Africa, maintains a comprehensive stockholding of dewatering pumps. This, he says, is key to allowing its extensive distributor network to react quickly to customer needs.

“The strength of our stockholding allowed us to effect a same day delivery of two Grindex Maxi pumps to our distributor in Steelpoort, Babata Pumps, allowing them to provide an efficient service to their end customer, a platinum mine in that area,” Kelsey said.

The two Grindex Maxi pumps have been installed in the mine’s decline shaft to ensure effective dewatering. The pumps are capable of achieving a flow rate of 30 litres per second at a head of 80 m and being of robust construction are well suited to this type of heavy-duty drainage application.

Equipped with a SMART™ motor protector and an air valve that enables continuous unattended operation, the Grindex Maxi pumps have found favour in the mining environment as this feature allows the pumps to run dry without operational interruptions.

The hydraulic design facilitates re-adjustment of the impeller-suction-cover-clearance allowing performance to be regained after wear. Kelsey says this is a significant feature for customers assisting in keeping life cycle costs low. Further, reliable operation is, as always, one of the most important considerations when it comes to drainage and dewatering applications, and the Grindex Maxi pump is simple and easy to maintain.

Kelsey says installation of the pump was done by the end customer and Babata Pump will provide any support required.

Integrated Pump Technology is the sole importer and principal distributor for the Grindex range of dewatering, slurry and sludge pumps for southern Africa. A network of nine strategically located, specialised pump distributors supported by dedicated account managers ensures effective service and customer support.

Headquartered in Johannesburg, the company operates a comprehensive service facility which supports this distribution structure. The facility includes a state-of-the-art automated pump test facility.

Vimy senses Angulari gold-uranium project boost following TOMRA XRT trial

Ore sorting test work from TOMRA Sorting Australia has Vimy Resources thinking about higher grades, lower capital and operating costs, and the production of precious metals at its majority-owned Angulari uranium-gold deposit in Australia’s Northern Territory.

The ASX-listed company, which has defined an inferred mineral resource estimate of 26 Mlbs of U3O8 (0.91 Mt at 1.3% U3O8) at Angulari, already thought the deposit, part of the Alligator River project, had potential to fit into the first quartile of the global uranium cost curve, but now it has eyes on further improving its cost position.

An ore sorting proof of concept trial conducted by TOMRA using its COM X-ray Transmission Tertiary system factored in a 41.5 kg sample that was obtained from mineralised material collected from drill core that Cameco Australia drilled in 2011 and 2016.

The trial on this material saw the uranium concentrate grade increase from 1.2% to 2% U3O8 (70% increase) with high U3O8 recovery. Alongside this, the sample gold concentrate grade increased from 0.7 g/t to 1.1 g/t (47% increase). On the latter gold work, Vimy said: “This warrants further investigation given no gold processing or recovery test work has been undertaken to date.”

The test work also showed that gold mineralisation is spatially coincident with the uranium mineral resource within the sample.

Some 13.5 kg of this 41.5 kg sample was not sorted due to the high uranium grade, which provides additional upside in future trials, Vimy noted. Other potential by-products were also identified, including platinum and palladium.

All of this bodes well for cutting the capital and operating costs that Vimy was unable to disclose to investors as part of its December 2018 scoping study on the project.

A higher feed grade from ore sorting would likely result in lower operating costs, the company said.

Meanwhile, smaller hydrometallurgical plant circuits would likely be required for the same level of production. Coupled with a potential reduction in acid-consuming phases in the concentrate, ore sorting has the potential to lower reagents (and water) usage and costs on a per lb U3O8 produced basis, noting that expected reagent use is already low, Vimy said.

“A smaller plant would result in a lower overall disturbance footprint with commensurate approvals and capital cost benefits,” it added.

Mike Young, CEO of Vimy, said, “The results of the TOMRA ore sorting trial at the Alligator River project’s Angularli deposit have exceeded our expectations. The high-grade nature of the deposit, coupled with the ore sorting outcomes, enhances the prospect of Angularli’s potential future development as a low-cost uranium operation.

“Our next step is to progress the upgrade trials and investigate the potential for the recovery of high value by-products associated with the uranium mineralisation at the Angularli deposit.”

The Angularli deposit is located in the King River-Wellington Range tenement group which is managed in a joint venture (Vimy 79%: Rio Tinto 21%) with Rio Tinto Exploration Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto Ltd.

Multotec solution scrubs up well at Ekapa Minerals diamond plant

A revolutionary new concept in fines scrubbing is proving to be a game changer for Ekapa Minerals at its Combined Treatment Plant (CTP) in Kimberley, South Africa.

The innovation, developed by Multotec Wear Linings, is processing both virgin underground kimberlite as well as tailings for retreatment at the CTP. The solution is effectively a pulping chute that scrubs and washes the re-crushed product after it has passed through the high pressure grinding rolls (HPGR) inter-particle tertiary crushing circuit.

The important advantage here, according to Multotec Wear Linings Projects Sales Manager, John Britton, is that it performs the scrubbing action faster and more efficiently than a traditional rotary scrubber would, and at much lower cost.

Multotec commissioned two of these pulping chutes at Ekapa Minerals in late 2019, where they have been operating consistently and in line with expectations. With the use of patented wave generators, the pulping chute uses the gravitational energy from the slurry flow to create a constant turbulent mixing action that releases the mud, clay and slime sticking to the kimberlite particles.

According to Ekapa Minerals CEO, Jahn Hohne, the pulping chutes are a welcome contribution to the company’s cost saving efforts, and a clear demonstration of Multotec’s expertise in developing value-adding solutions in the mining sector.

“The dual chute pulping plant is ideally suited to de-conglomerating the HPGR cake product and is exceeding expectations in efficiency and effectiveness at over 600 t/h, which is a major relief on the existing overloaded pair of CTP scrubbers,” he said. “The net result is a meaningful increase of up to 20% throughput capacity of the entire processing plant which substantially improves the economy of scale of CTP, feeding directly to the bottom line.”

Britton highlighted the efficiency of the system, which is able to aggressively scrub the material in just three to four seconds as it passes through the chute. This represents just a fraction of the usual retention time in a rotary scrubber, which is three to four minutes, according to the company. He also emphasises the drastic reduction in running cost which the pulping chute achieves.

“From our experience of plant layouts and flow diagrams, it is clear that fines scrubbers are significant contributors to a plant’s capital, operating and maintenance costs,” Britton said. “Scrubbers are equipped with large drives with gears and gearboxes to rotate the drum. They are high consumers of power and require mechanical component maintenance which means higher operating costs.”

Substantial structures and supports are also needed for the scrubber and its drive mechanisms. In designing the pulping chute, Multotec sought a simplified solution, Britton says. In addition to improving scrubbing efficiency, the objective included reducing the cost of replacing scrubber liners and the downtime that this demanded. The cost of replacing the steel shell of a scrubber – which is constantly subject to stress, wear and fatigue – was another cost to be considered.

“The pulping chute, by contrast, is a stationery and much simplified innovation, focused on the scrubbing of fines less than 32 mm in size,” the company said. “Slurry deflectors located at the top end of the scrubbing chute direct at least part of the slurry away from the scrubbing chute floor. This curls into an arched form which flows backwards into the approaching flow of slurry, creating the turbulent scrubbing effect.”

Britton said: “We custom-design the chutes to suit the application and can increase chute capacity to up to 800 t/h. This is achieved with no moving parts, bearings, hydraulic packs or girth gears; the only power required is to supply material and water to the receiving chute. These actions are also required to feed the scrubber, then gravity takes over and provides the required energy.”

Maintenance is also streamlined by designing the chute in segments. Should one segment be wearing more than others, it can be quickly removed and replaced – putting the chute back into operation while the original segment is refurbished as a spare.

Britton says the pulping chute has drawn interest from other diamond producers in southern Africa, Australia and Canada. It can also be applied in commodity sectors such as coal, platinum, chrome, iron ore and mineral sands.

Weba custom-engineered chutes cut the dust at platinum mines

Weba Chute Systems says it has been able to demonstrate to platinum mining customers how its custom-engineered chutes significantly reduce dust at transfer points.

Using the latest dust measuring technology, the company has carried out tests at mines in South Africa and Zimbabwe to compare the impact of Weba designs on material flow and dust levels, Izak Potgieter, Systems Manager at Weba Chute Systems, said.

At the site in Zimbabwe, considerable dust levels were created at bunker discharge chutes. Material of up to 500 mm in size was moving through at a rate of 600 t/h.

“The material flow was the biggest factor generating dust in the conventional chute, as material was not flowing as evenly as it should,” Potgieter says. “This created a lot of energy for the dust particles to expand into the surrounding atmosphere.”

The installation of the Weba chute – with its engineered design for optimal flow control – reduced the dust levels by about 40%, according to the company.

“By controlling the velocity of material, the design not only cuts dust creation but also reduces impact and wear for increased productivity and less maintenance downtime,” Weba said.

At the South Africa operation, the tests were conducted at a transfer point in the milling plant where an average tonnage of 190 t/h was being moved. Despite the use of water sprays, the existing chute was still creating considerable dust. The installation of the Weba chute was able to reduce dust levels by 15%, according to the company.

“Dust levels have shown to have a serious impact on human health, especially smaller particle sizes of 0.3 micron,” Potgieter says. “Health effects of dust relate mainly to particle size and dust may contain microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are small enough to get into the lungs and cause serious health problems.”

Spores and contaminants associated with dust and aerosol can also adversely impact human health, causing a range of issues from respiratory infections to toxic exposure, according to Weba.

Ivanhoe advances Platreef development studies after Moolmans completes sinking

Ivanhoe Mines has announced another milestone at the Platreef platinum group metals project in South Africa, with construction complete at the 996-m level station of Shaft 1.

The achievement, completed well ahead of the contractual schedule, according to Ivanhoe, positions the company to equip Platreef’s initial production shaft, if it chooses to proceed with phased development of the mine on the Northern Limb of South Africa’s Bushveld Complex.

Sinking was carried out by contractor Moolmans, with the project remaining ‘Fall-of-Ground’ incident free since shaft sinking operations began in July 2016, the company said. On top of this, in June 2020, Moolmans and the Platreef team achieved South Africa shaft sinking industry leader status in terms of safety performance, according to Ivanhoe, which owns 64% of the project through Ivanplats.

Ivanhoe’s Co-Chairmen, Robert Friedland and Yufeng “Miles” Sun, said: “Given the flurry of recent transactions in precious metals markets, we are actively exploring a number of options that can help us unlock Platreef’s extraordinary value for the benefit of all Ivanhoe stakeholders.

“After all, Platreef is among this planet’s largest precious metals deposits.”

Platreef now has a completed shaft within a few hundred metres of the initial high-grade mining zone, according to Friedland and Sun.

“We have a mining licence, we have water and we have a team of highly-skilled employees,” they said. “The deposit has enormous quantities of palladium, platinum, rhodium, nickel and copper; and it has more ounces of gold than many leading gold mines.”

They concluded: “Given the current precious metals environment, I am confident that the pending studies will showcase the exceptional economics that one would expect from such a thick, high-grade and flat-lying deposit.”

Ivanhoe is updating the Platreef project’s 2017 definitive feasibility study (DFS) to account for development schedule advancement since 2017 when the DFS was completed, as well as updated costs and refreshed metal prices and foreign exchange assumptions.

The DFS for Platreef covered the first phase of production at an initial mining rate of 4 Mt/y, estimating Platreef’s initial average annual production rate would be 476,000 oz of platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold, plus 21 MIb (9,525 t) of nickel and 13 MIb (5,897 t) of copper.

Concurrently, Ivanhoe is finalising a preliminary economic assessment for the phased development production plan for Platreef. The plan targets significantly lower initial capital to accelerate first production by using Shaft 1 as the mine’s initial production shaft, followed by expansions to the production rate as outlined in the 2017 DFS, Ivanhoe said.

“The re-evaluation is being done in parallel with the ongoing mine development work to access the thick, high-grade, flat-lying Flatreef deposit that was discovered in 2010 and outlined in the Platreef 2017 feasibility study,” it said.

The new auxiliary winder for the 7.25 m diameter Shaft 1, which is scheduled to be delivered to Platreef later this year, will be used to assist in equipping the shaft; and thereafter for logistics, shaft examination and auxiliary functions. The auxiliary winder will provide a second means of ingress and egress from the shaft after removal of the stage winder.

Shaft 1 is around 350 m away from a high-grade area of the Flatreef orebody, planned for bulk-scale, mechanised mining.

thyssenkrupp navigates South Africa lockdown to replace platinum mine HPGR roll

As the COVID-19 pandemic tightens its grip, thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions says it is assisting customers in maintaining operational efficiencies through sustainable service delivery and innovative technologies.

“The global economic crisis, as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, has put the drive for efficiency into top gear,” Philipp Nellessen, CEO of thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions Sub Sahara Africa, said. “Fundamental to this drive is cutting-edge technology. Through our ongoing investment in people and R&D and our over 200 years of expertise, we are able to develop advanced technologies to assist mining and other industries in achieving maximum operational efficiencies.”

Although the South Africa mining industry was not operational during national lockdown Level 5, critical repairs were still permitted. As an essential service provider, thyssenkrupp has been delivering maintenance and repair as well as rebuild work to local mines.

The company assisted a platinum mine in Limpopo Province with a roll change on one of thyssenkrupp’s flagship products, a high pressure grinding roll (HPGR).

Nico Erasmus, thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions Sub Sahara Africa Head of Service Operations, explained: “The scope of work required a rebuild on the HPGR set as well as the installation of the hardware on the mine site, making this our largest project in the national lockdown period.

“We are very pleased that even in a complete lockdown situation, we were able to complete the project in a healthy and safe manner, in excellent co-operation with our customer.”

The customer had “excellent controls” in place and thyssenkrupp complemented the risk mitigation with its own additional preventative protocols, he added.

Procedures included pre-selection of a team that falls inside the recommended age and health categories, pre-screening at both thyssenkrupp and customer sites, limiting the amount of people on shifts and in spaces, adhering to stringent hygiene measures (hand sanitising, wearing face masks, social distancing, cleaning of surfaces, tools and equipment), and implementing special transport and accommodation measures.

According to Erasmus, despite several challenges, the team adapted quickly to all the controls while still being responsive enough to get the work done safely and within the scheduled timelines.

“The transport of super loads (two trucks with 120 t loads each) was a real challenge, but our logistics team rose to the occasion and got the loads on site in no time and ready for installation,” Erasmus said.

To remain operational and continue seamless service delivery to customers, thyssenkrupp has implemented all necessary policies in line with South Africa Government COVID-19 regulations.

These include possession of all essential services permits and strict entry control protocols for employees, visitors and suppliers at all premises. Employees are required to attend mandatory training sessions conducted by the OSH department, wear all necessary personal protective equipment, sanitise regularly and maintain social distancing.

A dedicated COVID-19 committee has been set up to assess changing regulations and risks associated with office and site working environments, the company said.

“With the majority of employees working from home, we have faced our fair share of challenges but the process was very well organised with IT managing it all incredibly well ensuring that everybody was equipped in time,” Erasmus said. “We only had one day of downtime at our essential service workshop site.”

Wrapping up, an optimistic Nellessen says he is in no doubt that South Africa/Sub-Sahara Africa will recover.

“The people here are incredibly brave and innovative and companies will find their way out of the crisis,” he said.

“Despite tough times ahead for some industries, the mining sector continues to show growth and here I foresee a restart and a good recovery, depending on mining commodities probably taking anything between three to 12 months to reach previous and required pricing levels.”

Concor Opencast Mining provides ‘seamless transition’ at Anglo’s Mogalakwena PGM mine

Contractor Concor Opencast Mining says it is helping Anglo American Platinum’s Mogalakwena open-pit platinum group metals (PGM) mine team, in South Africa, boost annual production.

This growth can be attributed to various optimisation efforts on site at the largest open-pit PGM mine in the world, as well as the steady performance of its Zwartfontein pit, which Concor Opencast Mining is in charge of, the contractor said.

The majority of Mogalakwena’s production originates from the Central, North and South pits, supplemented further by the nearby Zwartfontein pit. Together these deposits should deliver on Anglo American Platinum’s record-breaking production target of 1.22 Moz of PGMs for 2019, Concor said.

While the three main production pits are operated by the mine’s personnel, it relies on a contractor for the smaller Zwartfontein pit, which requires an earthmoving fleet suited to its smaller size and production targets. Despite its size, it is an important contributor to Mogalakwena’s annual performance, Concor said.

A year and nine months ago, the pit underwent a significant transition that saw Concor secure the load and haul contract from Anglo’s previous operator.

“Because the mine required a smooth changeover with minimal disruption to production, we took over most of the previous contractor’s fleet, as well as its entire workforce,” Concor Opencast Mining’s Zwartfontein contracts manager, Donald Sisiya, said.

Having completed work at Mogalakwena’s tailings storage facility in the past, Concor Opencast Mining brought to the project not only an existing relationship with the mine but its solid reputation for mining open-pit, hard-rock PGM operations in South Africa, the company said.

Sisaya continued: “Combined with our cost competitive offer, the mine placed its faith in our ability to deliver a seamless transition and then to further optimise production without disrupting day-to-day running during the changeover period.”

Concor Opencast Mining’s agreement at Zwartfontein comprises a three-year load and haul contract, as of December 1, 2017. Over this period, it must move 32.4 Mt of material and, more specifically, 12 Mt of ore and 20 Mt of waste material.

With an effective change management structure in place, Concor Opencast Mining has improved the pit’s production performance, having revised the shift structure for all plus-100 of its employees, the company said.

It has also invested significant capital into upgrading most of the old earthmoving equipment on site which had not been properly maintained, according to Concor.

“We have over recent months added three 130 ton (118 t) excavators to the pit, over and above introducing 10 new 100 t (91 t) trucks as well,” Sisiya states.

Moving forward, Concor Opencast Mining has production targets to meet by the end of the year and Sisiya is confident of achieving these: “Taking over an existing contract while ensuring minimal impact to the employees and the production targets is a success story for the company which highlights our strong capabilities in the open-cast mining space.”

Master Drilling lays groundwork for record breaking hole

Master Drilling is set to break a drilling world record having recently commenced collaring for a 1,420 m pilot hole at a South Africa platinum mine.

The 4.6 m diameter hole is being sunk as part of an expansion project at the mine. It will help lead to the development of a rock hoisting shaft equipped with steelwork, according to Master Drilling.

Master Drilling said it was using its RD8 raisebore rig for the project. This rig, which has been operational since 2015 and used at various mine sites across South Africa, is capable of drilling 8.5 m in diameter and over 1,500 m deep, the company added.

The current construction schedule at the mine indicates the holing of the pilot during the first week of May 2020, some eight months from the collaring date.

The previous longest pilot drilled to date was 1,180 m, according to the company.

SPH Kundalila crushing it at Pilanesberg platinum mine

Raubex Group subsidiary SPH Kundalila has recently seen its contract expand at the Pilanesberg platinum mine on South Africa’s Bushveld Complex.

The two already have a nine-year relationship to fall back on, with SPH Kundalila’s primary contract at Pilanesberg entailing managing the mine’s primary crushing requirements. This includes crushing all run of mine (ROM) material from the mine before it is transported to the concentrator.

Pilanesberg, which has many outsourced contractors, recently celebrated 10 years of production excellence at the mine.

The nine-year relationship between Pilanesberg and SPH Kundalila can be attributed to the trust and partnership the company has built with the mine but also its high level technical skills set, according to the contractor.

SPH Kundalila Production Manager, Walter Eriksen, said: “With our 260 people on site, 75% from the local Bakgatla tribe, we operate four 63 t mobile crushing machines on the outskirts of the pit which have a combined design capacity of 380,000 t/mth.

“Our crushers have been replaced over the years as the mine’s production requirements have grown. Throughout this process we have maintained our machines’ high availability thanks to an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the mine’s production requirements.

“To ensure our performance further, we have established on-site technical support infrastructure including a workshop and plus-40 workshop crew. This facility enables us to conduct preventative maintenance equipment routines as well as full services and minor repairs which results in minimal downtime.”

The mine has expanded SPH Kundalila’s work on site of late, which now includes materials handling services delivered from its fleet of wheel loaders, dump trucks and tippers. In June 2018, the company’s workload expanded even further to include loading and hauling waste material from the pit.

SPH Kundalila Pit Manager, Danie de Jager, said: “Since June of last year we have successfully been moving waste material from the northern side of the pit. We have also steadily grown our volumes which started at 145,000 t/mth to around 500,000 t/mth. Through this service we are giving the mine quick and easy access to the reef.”

SPH Kundalila’s earthmoving fleet comprises two excavators, two bulldozers and eight 45 t dump trucks carefully selected to allow accurate waste-only removal.

SPH Kundalila Site Manager, Pieter Boonzaier, said: “Our service delivery, technical capability and ongoing dedication to helping Pilanesberg platinum mine meet its 150,000 oz per annum of PGM production requirements is a proud achievement for SPH Kundalila and we hope to continue working with the mine as its explores new and exciting chapters of its life.”