Tag Archives: South Africa

ARM selects Epiroc equipment to help restart Bokoni platinum mine

Epiroc says it has won a large order for low-profiling mining equipment from African Rainbow Minerals for use at its Bokoni platinum mine in Limpopo Province, South Africa.

African Rainbow Minerals has ordered drill rigs, loaders and mine trucks for use at the mine, which is restarting after operations were paused for care and maintenance in the past few years.

The machines ordered are built with a low profile well suited for the mine’s low tunnel heights. The equipment includes Boomer face drilling rigs, Boltec and Cabletec rock reinforcement rigs (an Epiroc Cabletec SL, pictured), Scooptram LHDs and Minetruck haul trucks. All machines come with Epiroc’s Certiq telematics solution for automated monitoring of productivity and machine performance. Other advanced features include, for example, the Boomer machines being equipped with a pilot hydraulic control system that further improves drilling accuracy.

The order is valued at more than ZAR200 million ($11.6 million) and was booked in the March quarter of 2023, with deliveries set to beging this quarter and continue into 2024.

“We are excited to once again provide equipment to the Bokoni platinum mine,” Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, said. “We look forward to supporting African Rainbow Minerals as they restart and operate the mine in the most productive and safe way possible.”

Back at the end of 2021, ARM agreed to buy Bokoni from Anglo American Platinum and Atlatsa Resources, stating plans to restart mining operations in 2023.

Epiroc to provide ‘complete’ collision avoidance systems via Mernok acquisition

Epiroc has agreed to acquire Mernok Elektronik (Pty) Ltd, a South Africa-based company that provides advanced collision avoidance systems for mining companies.

With this acquisition, Epiroc will strengthen its position as a world-leading provider of automation and safety solutions for mining operations, it says.

Mernok Elektronik is headquartered in Pretoria, South Africa. The company designs and produces proximity detection technologies and collision avoidance systems of the highest level (EMESRT Level 9) applicable for either a single machine or an entire mixed fleet of machines regardless of manufacturer or type of equipment, it says. Mernok Elektronik’s customers are primarily in Africa, with its systems designed to significantly reduce the risk of vehicle accidents, strengthening operator safety as well as productivity.

The company’s focus was initially vested in three main areas, namely mining applications, military applications and high-end industrial applications. In 2016, it decided to re-focus the company to service only the mining sector. Back in 2019, it teamed up with Booyco Electronics and Selectronic to bring new generation technology to the proximity detection system space.

Mernok Elektronik has about 45 employees and revenues in the fiscal year ending February 28, 2022, of approximately R80 million ($4.7 million).

“Collision avoidance is critical for the mining industry to strengthen safety and productivity, and Mernok’s advanced solutions complement Epiroc’s existing equipment and automation offering well,” Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, said. “Together we will provide complete collision avoidance solutions to the highest industry standards to support our customers on their journey towards the safest and most optimal operations. We look forward to welcoming the dynamic Mernok team to Epiroc.”

The acquisition is expected to be completed in the March quarter of 2023.

Trafo Power Solutions overcomes design challenges to fulfil UG gold mine order

Dry-type transformer specialist Trafo Power Solutions has recently been given a ‘hill to climb’ in terms of design and logistics with a request to supply three units to an underground gold mine in South Africa.

The mine required the transformers to operate in the usual demanding conditions of dust, moisture and heat, according to Trafo Power Solutions Managing Director, David Claassen. However, there were a range of other challenges – not least the weight and height restrictions of a deep mine. While two of the transformers are relatively small – 250 kVA and 630 kVA – the third is a substantial 3,150 kVA.

“The transformers are to operate at about 1 km below surface, and will have to be transported through both an incline shaft and vertical shaft,” Claassen says. “Especially with the larger unit, we had to work very closely with our Italian technology partner TMC to reach a design that could be moved within these constraints.”

Trafo Power Solutions also designed the enclosures locally in a manner that would allow them to be transported in manageable components before being re-assembled underground. The enclosure design had to ensure that, while dust and moisture were kept out, there was still enough air circulation to cool the unit. The dry-type transformers will be supplying loads for a refrigeration plant.

“Trafo Power Solutions conducted the complete designs, which were then verified and vetted by TMC,” Claassen says. “This quality control is central to our approach in ensuring fit-for-purpose solutions.”

He emphasised that the design and manufacture of the units was carried out according to schedule and they are on track to be supplied within the customer’s required timeframes.

“On-time supply is an increasingly important aspect of success for mining companies,” he says. “Mines’ capital expenditure is planned according to the expected returns on any project, and supplier delays can undermine these forecasts.”

Trafo Power Solutions also designed the specialised skid bases for the transformers, to facilitate moving the units to their operating destination. These accommodate the considerable weight of the units, particularly the 10-t mass of the large 3,150 kVA unit.

Delivery of the transformers is expected to take place by the end of the year, with Trafo Power Solutions supervising the installation and commissioning process.

Rio Tinto’s Richard Bay Minerals to go solar with help of Voltalia, BEE partners

Rio Tinto’s 74%-owned Richard’s Bay Minerals (RBM) business will soon be supplied with renewable solar power through an agreement with international energy company Voltalia and local Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) partners, for its operation in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, Rio says.

Under the agreement, Voltalia will begin construction of the Bolobedu Solar PV renewable energy project in 2023, at a site in the province of Limpopo. The power plant is scheduled to be complete by 2024 and will deliver an annual generation capacity of up to 300 GWh. It will feed into the national power grid to supply RBM’s smelting and processing facilities through a “wheeling agreement”.

The renewable power supply is expected to cut RBM’s annual greenhouse gas emissions by at least 10%, or 237,000 t/y of CO2e, Rio says.

Rio Tinto Minerals Chief Executive, Sinead Kaufman, said: “The agreement, which is a first step towards reducing RBM’s carbon emissions, is a major milestone and one that is in line with Rio Tinto’s decarbonisation strategy. As this solar energy project progresses, we will continue exploring additional renewable solutions that further reduce our emissions in South Africa and make Richards Bay Minerals a contributor to our net zero commitment.”

Voltalia CEO, Sébastien Clerc, added: “We are very pleased to support RBM in its decarbonisation journey. The Bolobedu photovoltaic power plant will be our biggest project in Africa, after performing construction of a series of other solar plants for us or for clients, in the continent (Zimbabwe, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, Mauritania and Egypt). This project is the first of our South African large solar-and-wind portfolio under development, in areas with grid connection available, that will be ready to support our clients to overpass the actual energy crisis with affordable, clean and stable electricity.”

Voltalia will work to ensure the Bolobedu Solar PV project creates local employment opportunities for the surrounding communities. A total workforce of more than 700 people is expected during construction, with a workforce of around 50 people once the plant becomes operational.

The project will also provide skills development opportunities for members of the surrounding communities, and a bursary program for young local learners. In support of South Africa’s growing renewable energy sector value chain, Voltalia will work to source its goods and services locally.

The Bolobedu Solar PV power plant will be 51% black-owned through BEE partners, with a minimum 10% stake going to black women, while the host community will also have a participation.

Anglo American, EDF Renewables establish regional renewable energy ecosystem in South Africa

Anglo American has joined forces with EDF Renewables to establish a new jointly owned company, Envusa Energy, aimed at developing a regional renewable energy ecosystem (RREE) in South Africa.

In March 2022, the two companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore the ecosystem’s development, designed to meet Anglo American’s operational power requirements in South Africa and support the resilience of the local electricity supply systems and the wider
decarbonisation of energy in the country. The RREE is also expected to catalyse economic activity in South Africa’s renewable energy sector, supporting the country’s broader just energy transition.

As part of the agreement, Envusa Energy is launching a mature pipeline of more than 600 MW of wind and solar projects in South Africa – a major first step towards the development of an ecosystem that is expected to generate 3-5 GW of renewable energy by 2030, Anglo American says. This first phase of Envusa Energy’s renewables projects is expected to be fully funded – including by attracting debt financing that is typical for high quality energy infrastructure projects – and ready for construction to begin in 2023.

Envusa Energy is expected to supply Anglo American with a blend of renewable energy generated on Anglo American’s sites and renewable energy transmitted via the national grid. This energy portfolio approach will aggregate energy from geographically-dispersed renewable generating assets and allocate this energy optimally to meet the load demand for Anglo American’s sites, the company explained.

Nolitha Fakude, Chair of Anglo American’s Management Board in South Africa, said: “I’m delighted to confirm our ground-breaking partnership with EDF Renewables to form Envusa Energy. This is a significant milestone in Anglo American’s global decarbonisation journey and another step forwards for South Africa’s clean energy future. We are making great strides towards our 2040 target of carbon-neutral operations, while contributing to South Africa’s just energy transition through our responsible approach.

“We believe that the energy transition presents a fresh opportunity for South Africa and the rest of the region to build a clean and inclusive energy ecosystem that can create significant new economic opportunities. I am very encouraged by our progress – affirming Anglo American’s commitment to South Africa’s next phase of development towards a low-carbon future.”

Tristan de Drouas, CEO at EDF Renewables in South Africa, said: “We are very pleased to be part of this very innovative venture and look forward to bringing our global expertise in renewable energy infrastructure development, design and delivery to Envusa Energy. This partnership with Anglo American confirms our long-term perspectives in the country: this 600 MW first tranche of projects will be added to the almost 1 GW that EDF Renewables will be building or operating in the country by 2023 – including 420 MW of wind projects in REIPPP Bid Window 5, whose PPAs were signed with Eskom and the DMRE on September 22, 2022.

“Together, these projects further EDF Group’s CAP 2030 strategy, which aims to double our net renewable installed energy capacity worldwide (hydropower included) from 28 GW in 2015 to 60 GW by 2030.”

The roll-out of the RREE will also serve as a clean energy source for the production of green hydrogen for Anglo American’s nuGen™ Zero Emission Haulage Solution (ZEHS) – a planned fleet of hydrogen-powered ultra-class mine haul trucks (the original prototype pictured at Mogalakwena above) – significantly reducing on-site diesel emissions towards a carbon neutral future while also supporting the development of South Africa’s Hydrogen Valley, Anglo American said.

Through the formation of Envusa Energy, Anglo American and EDF Renewables are committed to supporting South Africa’s economic transformation and empowerment goals. The process to identify an appropriate Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) partner for Envusa Energy is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Furthermore, and in line with both companies’ commitment to a just energy transition, Envusa Energy is exploring a range of community partnership models that will enable host communities to share in the benefits created by the development of the RREE, along its value chain, Anglo American said.

Maelgwyn opens new 4,000 sq.m premises in Johannesburg

Maelgwyn Mineral Services says it has officially opened its new combined Maelgwyn Africa and Maelgwyn South Africa premises in Boundary Park in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The new facility offers over 4,000 sq.m of floor space housing state-of-the-art offices, workshops, metallurgical and analytical laboratories, together with a world-class metallurgical pilot facility, the company says.

The metallurgical lab and pilot plant mostly undertake commercial mineral processing evaluations for process design and development purposes to bankable feasibility study level with bespoke solutions and fast reporting times undertaken by experts in the field of minerals processing, Maelgwyn explained.

The laboratory facilities also support the company’s proprietary technologies, including Imhoflot Flotation and the Aachen Reactor. These technologies have found favour across the globe in associated processes such as Leachox for precious metal recovery, Aachen Assist Leach and MMS-CND cyanide destruction.

Sandvik and FLANDERS to develop ARDVARC-iSeries drill rig digital interface

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions and FLANDERS have agreed to develop a Digital Interface between FLANDERS’ ARDVARC® Autonomous Drill System (ADS) and Sandvik iSeries rotary blasthole drills.

The development of this digital interface is a direct response to growing customer demand for agnostic automation systems in surface mining, the pair say.

The digital interface will enable the operation of Sandvik rotary drills via the ARDVARC ADS system with no modification to the drill rig, effectively a plug-and-play solution that allows for easy deployment of Sandvik drills to mine sites, FLANDERS explained. This open-architecture approach simplifies the installation and commissioning process while ensuring the customer retains OEM warranty and aftermarket support.

This agnostic approach to delivering digital solutions allows customers to select the value-added solutions that best meet their needs, whether that be the drill or the operating system powering the drill, FLANDERS added.

ARDVARC improves drill productivity by up to 30% and provides a significantly safer working environment for workers operating in complex or hazardous conditions, according to FLANDERS.

With its autonomous operating technology, FLANDERS helps its customers pro-actively optimise drilling and increase plant availability. The introduction of autonomous technology at the mine adds significant environmental gains for diesel machines, reducing fuel consumption and CO2 by up to 7.3% compared with a manned operation.

With its autonomous operating technology, FLANDERS helps its customers proactively optimise drilling, improve fragmentation, improve loading and hauling productivity and increase plant throughput.

The first deployment of the FLANDERS/Sandvik Digital Interface is scheduled for the December quarter of 2022 with further deployments being scheduled soon after that.

Sandvik in its statement says it “will continue to develop and support AutoMine® Surface Drilling solutions for remote and autonomous operation of the full range of Sandvik iSeries drills”.

FLANDERS added that it has signed a deal with Anglo American to incorporate ARDVARC on all new and existing drills at Anglo’s Mogalakwena mine in South Africa, including the recently purchased Sandvik DR410i blasthole drills.

The third (of four) brand new Sandvik 410i drill is currently being converted to an ARDVARC Autonomous system at the state-of-the-art facility in Middelburg, South Africa.

FLANDERS has already deployed ARDVARC Autonomous drills to Mogalakwena, converting Epiroc Pit Viper 271 XC drills.

Multotec pulping chute advances at Ekapa open opportunities for fines scrubbing tech

The performance of Multotec’s pulping chutes at Ekapa’s diamond treatment operation in Kimberley, South Africa, over the past couple of years has, the company says, opened the door to quicker and more cost effective fines scrubbing.

According to John Britton, Technical Consultant at Multotec, the two pulping chutes have achieved outstanding results, helping the customer’s facility to cost effectively increase the throughput of its Combined Treatment Plant (CTP).

“At our recent two-year inspection of the plant, we found that the wear rate on the ceramic lining of the wave generator was only 20 mm over that 24-month period,” Britton says. “Each chute was processing 380 t/h of recrushed kimberlite product with 380 cu.m of water, rushing down a 28° incline.”

Multotec’s patented wave generators use gravity to create a constant turbulent mixing action in the slurry flow that releases the mud, clay and slime sticking to the kimberlite particles. The chutes are positioned to receive material from the high pressure grinding rolls’ interparticle tertiary crushing circuit. Multotec’s engineered alumina ceramic tiles give the chutes and wave generators high wear resistance, it says.

“The chutes exceeded our expectations in how well they separated the clay from the kimberlite ore and broke up clay balls in the material stream,” Britton says. “This has really demonstrated the long-term capacity of our design to deliver results with hardly any maintenance or operator intervention.”

He highlights that the chutes are stationery structures that rely on the kinetic energy being created by the in-rush of slurry flow over the wave generators. This makes the solution much simpler and less energy-intensive than traditional rotary scrubbers with motors, drives and gearboxes. The chute can also achieve its results much quicker, as the material flow passes through in just three to four seconds.

Ekapa CEO, Jahn Hohne, says he has been impressed by how well the chutes have performed as an alternative to a considerably more costly scrubber circuit, and having delivered a 20% increase in throughput through the plant and making a positive economic contribution to overall efficiency. Hohne says he admired Multotec’s innovation capability and looked forward to even further improvements in the design.

Britton notes that, after conducting the wear inspection of the chutes, there were modifications Multotec was planning. One of these related to the retarder bars, which slow down and divert the slurry flow.

“We believe we can achieve even better results if we remove some of the retarder bars and install another set of wave generators,” he says. “Our results suggest that this will get the ore material even cleaner, before it reports to the screen, the conveyor belt and finally the dense medium circuit.”

The success of the pulping chutes at Ekapa has led to considerable interest from other diamond producers in southern Africa, he added.

Rajant’s BreadCrumb Peregrine unlocks tech deployment possibilities for Anglo American in South Africa

Rajant Corporation, the pioneer of Kinetic Mesh® wireless networks, says it has successfully deployed its fourth-generation BreadCrumb® Peregrine node at an Anglo American operation in South Africa.

Peregrine, which supports a maximum combined data rate of 2.3 Gb/s and up to six times enhanced throughput performance over existing Rajant BreadCrumbs, is being used at the operation to support applications for mine production systems, including proximity detection, fatigue management and teleremote drilling.

It is the first deployment in South Africa with Anglo American.

“Rajant has always been the leader in industrial wireless mesh networking,” Reyno Eksteen, BU Head, Scan RF Projects, a Rajant Kinetic Mesh distributor, says. “With the substantial increase in performance of the new generation Peregrine BreadCrumbs, our customers now can support applications that require more bandwidth. Because all Rajant BreadCrumb models are fully backward compatible, it makes migrating to the latest higher-capacity radio nodes much easier while still redeploying the existing BreadCrumbs to other parts of the network to get the most out of the customer’s investment.”

After successful implementation, Anglo American confirmed a considerable increase in capacity of the Rajant Peregrine within its pit network, enabling the company to become more innovative by introducing technologies in areas of its operation where it was previously impossible, Rajant says. This allows the mine to scale the overall network with the operation’s demands quickly, bringing much higher bandwidth closer within areas of its pit production environment.

The new Peregrine BreadCrumb provides impressive performance with the same robust hardware, which can withstand the harsh conditions of an open-pit mine, Rajant added.

The Peregrine offers multiple MIMO radio interfaces, high throughput and enhanced security performance with up to 256-QAM and 80 MHz channels. It is part of Rajant’s initiative to develop deeply integrated solutions that securely combine data from connected people, vehicles, machines and sensors, with machine learning.

“This data combination unlocks the benefits of process optimisation, digital twins, predictive analytics, condition-based maintenance, augmented reality and virtual reality while improving worker safety,” Rajant says.

The Peregrine is interoperable with all BreadCrumb radio nodes to expand market capabilities for industries like mining, rail, shipping ports, public safety, agriculture and heavy construction. It is fortified with rugged, environmentally-sealed enclosures and supports several robust cryptographic options for data and MAC-address encryption and per-hop, per-packet authentication.

Scalable to hundreds of mobile, high-bandwidth nodes, the Peregrine enables data, voice, and video applications.

(photo credit: Anglo American)