Tag Archives: South Africa

Thungela to acquire Anglo American’s South African thermal coal operations

Anglo American has agreed to demerge its thermal coal operations in South Africa to a new holding company called Thungela Resources Limited.

The separation deal, which is subject to the approval of Anglo American’s shareholders on May 5, 2021, will be implemented through the transfer of Anglo’s South Africa thermal coal operations to Thungela, the demerger of the Thungela shares to Anglo American shareholders and the primary listing of Thungela’s shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and standard listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

Thungela had 16.5 Mt of attributable export production to its name in 2020, with its operations close to an established rail network with secure access to export markets via the Richards Bay Coal Terminal. It has 137 Mt of reserves and 756 Mt of resources, along with seven operations (four open-pit and three underground).

Anglo’s operations, meanwhile, are derived from three wholly owned and operated mines – Goedehoop, Greenside and Khwezela; Zibulo (73% owned, pictured); as well as from Mafube colliery, a 50:50 joint operation. It supplies around 19 Mt/y of export thermal coal from these mines.

Mark Cutifani, Chief Executive of Anglo American, said: “Anglo American has been pursuing a responsible transition away from thermal coal for a number of years now. As the world transitions towards a low carbon economy, we must continue to act responsibly – bringing our employees, shareholders, host communities, host governments and customers along with us. Our proposed demerger of what are precious natural resources for South Africa allows us to do exactly that.”

He added: “We are confident that Thungela will be a responsible steward of our thermal coal assets in South Africa, benefiting from an experienced and diverse management team and board. While representing just a small proportion of Anglo American today, we are laying the foundation for South Africa’s leading coal business, setting it up for success to deliver value for all its stakeholders. Looking forward, we believe the prospects for long-term value delivery are greatest as two standalone businesses, each with their own strategy and access to capital.”

July Ndlovu, CEO of Thungela, said: “Thungela is a leading South African producer of high quality, low cost export thermal coal, well positioned to benefit from improved market conditions, and providing a reliable and affordable energy source to our customers mainly in developing economies. We have significantly repositioned and upgraded our portfolio in recent years into a highly competitive producer of export product, with established access to world-class export infrastructure.

“As an independent business we will continue to contribute significantly to our host communities and South Africa’s development objectives. As part of our commitment to creating an enduring positive legacy, we are establishing an employee partnership plan and a community partnership plan, with each holding a 5% interest in the Thungela thermal coal operations in South Africa, thereby enabling employees and communities to share in the financial value that we generate.”

The proposed demerger recognises the diverse range of views held by Anglo American’s shareholders in relation to thermal coal and therefore provides Anglo American’s shareholders, including those with specified investment criteria, with the choice to act on such views and, following the implementation of the proposed demerger, to either retain, increase or decrease their interests in Thungela, Anglo explained. The proposal also allows Thungela to attract new shareholders and to access new sources of capital as an independent company offering direct exposure to thermal coal.

Anglo American says it is committed to setting up Thungela as a sustainable standalone business, including by providing an initial cash injection of ZAR2.5 billion (~$170 million) and further contingent capital support until the end of 2022 in the event of thermal coal prices in South African rand falling below a certain threshold.

Following the implementation of the proposed demerger, and in line with Anglo American’s responsible approach, Anglo American’s marketing business will continue to support Thungela in the sale and marketing of its products for a three-year period with an additional six-month transitional period thereafter, the company said.

“This transitionary arrangement ensures that customers receive a consistent service and supply of thermal coal while Thungela concentrates on enhancing the performance of its operations while continuing to receive optimal value for its products in the market,” Anglo said. “The three-year term, and the additional six-month roll-off period, also provide time for Thungela to build its own global marketing capabilities should it choose to do so.”

For the proposed demerger to be implemented, Anglo American shareholder approval will be sought at a general meeting and court meeting, both expected to be held on May 5 following Anglo American’s Annual General Meeting. If it is approved, it is expected the demerger would be effective on June 4, 2021, with Thungela’s shares being listed and admitted to trading on the JSE and LSE on June 7, 2021.

Following completion of the proposed demerger, 100% of the issued share capital of Thungela will be held by Anglo American shareholders who will each receive one Thungela share for every 10 Anglo American shares they hold. Each Anglo American shareholder will also retain their existing shareholding in Anglo American. Thungela will hold 90% of the thermal coal operations in South Africa with the remaining 10% held collectively by the employee partnership plan and the community partnership plan.

Anglo American to collaborate on ‘hydrogen valley’ study in South Africa

Anglo American has announced a collaboration agreement to complete a feasibility study to develop a “hydrogen valley” anchored in the platinum group metals-rich Bushveld geological area in South Africa.

Spearheaded by South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), the collaboration agreement also includes energy and services company ENGIE, the South African National Development Institute (SANEDI) and clean energy solutions provider Bambili Energy.

The proposed hydrogen valley will stretch approximately 835 km from Anglo American’s Mogalakwena platinum group metals (PGMs) mine (pictured) near Mokopane in Limpopo province in the north of South Africa, along the industrial and commercial corridor to Johannesburg and to the south coast at Durban.

This collaboration follows the launch in 2020 of the South African Hydrogen Society Roadmap, aimed at integrating hydrogen into the economy by capitalising on the country’s PGM resources and renewable energy potential to revitalise and decarbonise key industrial sectors. The study will be conducted by ENGIE Impact and will identify tangible opportunities to build hydrogen hubs and explore the potential for green hydrogen production and supply at scale.

Natascha Viljoen, CEO of Anglo American’s PGMs business, said: “The transition to a low carbon world is an opportunity to drive the development of cleaner technologies, create new industries and employment, and improve people’s lives. Anglo American was an early supporter of the global potential for a hydrogen economy, recognising its role in enabling the shift to greener energy and cleaner transport. Our integrated approach includes investing in new technologies, supporting entrepreneurial projects and advocating for policy frameworks that enable a supportive long-term investment environment for hydrogen to deliver that potential.”

The regional PGMs industry will be central to such a hydrogen valley, with PGMs playing an important role both in Polymer Electrolyte Membrane electrolysis used to produce hydrogen at scale and in fuel cells themselves, Anglo says.

Anglo American is already investing in renewable hydrogen production technology at its Mogalakwena PGMs mine and in the development of hydrogen-powered fuel cell mine haul trucks – the world’s largest to run on hydrogen.

Dr Phil Mjwara, DSI Director-General, said: “The Department’s hydrogen valley partnership with Anglo American, Bambili Energy and ENGIE is an example of leveraging investments made in the Hydrogen South Africa Programme to create mechanisms for the uptake of publicly financed intellectual property. The hydrogen valley is among the projects that will be implemented in partnership with the private sector to support the Platinum Valley Initiative, which is aimed at supporting small, medium and micro enterprises to take advantage of opportunities in the green economy in support of a just transition.”

The public-private partnership is aligned to the South Africa Government’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plans, with science, technology and innovation playing a key role in supporting the country’s plans to revitalise its economy.

Sebastien Arbola, ENGIE Executive Vice President in charge of Thermal Generation and Energy Supply activities, said: “ENGIE is delighted to be part of the hydrogen valley study. We are keen to share our knowledge and expertise encompassing the entire hydrogen value chain to accelerate hydrogen solutions’ deployment in South Africa and beyond. We already have a demonstration project under way to supply the hydrogen for the world’s first hydrogen mining truck being developed by Anglo American at the Mogalakwena PGMs mine.”

Zanele Mavuso Mbatha, CEO Bambili Energy, said: “The initiative to develop the South African hydrogen valley and the collaboration between Bambili, Anglo American, ENGIE and the South African government is significant as it will build material public awareness, confidence and support for the hydrogen economy. This collaboration is illustrative of Bambili’s view that a public-private partnership is critical in the development of this industry in the South African economy.”

FLSmidth high density thickeners optimise recoveries at DRC copper-cobalt mine

FLSmidth says it has delivered a thickener solution to help double production rates at one of the world’s largest copper and cobalt producers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The order for the solution, which included six of FLSmidth’s high density thickeners, was placed in 2020, with delivery now completed.

The mine already had FLSmidth thickeners on site, with the company’s proposal for the mine’s expanded requirements  based on test work to confirm the characteristics of the material to be treated, according to FLSmidth General Manager Projects and Account Sales, Howard Areington.

“The tests confirmed that we could use a similar design to what we had installed on the mine some years previously,” he says. “This solution included six counter current decantation (CCD) thickeners and one pre-leach thickener, each measuring 31 m in diameter.”

These units deliver high solids underflow to optimise the recovery of dissolved metals, according to FLSmidth. In addition to the steeper floor slope, these thickeners were designed with a high torque ring gear drive design, with high tolerances that make for minimal maintenance over long periods of time, the company says.

“Our high density thickener design ensures consistently high underflow densities which allows the operator to sustain high production rates and better recoveries,” Areington says.

These CCD thickeners are manufactured from LDX2101 duplex stainless steel. This provides mechanical benefits without compromising chemical resistance, allowing the mass of each unit to be reduced, the company explained. The pre-leach thickener, which was not exposed to corrosive conditions, is constructed from carbon steel.

“We also designed and supplied five impurities removal thickeners, which are high rate thickeners, also in LDX2101 stainless steel,” Areington says. “The sizes of these units ranged from 20 to 30 m in diameter.”

Fabrication of the equipment was carried out in South Africa while accommodating the demands of the COVID-19 lockdown, which required careful planning and flexibility. With components and platework delivered to site, the welding and construction was conducted by the mine with installation assistance from FLSmidth and its agent in the region.

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.

BME breaks another electronic detonator blast record in South Africa

Another South African record for the largest electronic detonator blast has been broken by the blasting and explosives company BME.

The blast was conducted by BME, an Omnia Group company, at the end of 2020 at a manganese mine in South Africa’s Northern Cape province. Using its AXXIS™ electronic initiation system, BME was able to plan and execute a blast of 4,647 detonators. Just a few months earlier, the company had broken a previous record at the same mine by initiating 3,780 detonators in a single blast.

“The latest achievement involved a remarkable 535 t of emulsion explosive in over 2,300 blast holes requiring a total of more than 37,000 m of drilling,” Kobus Boonzaaier, BME Area Manager in the Northern Cape, said. “The resulting blast was able to move almost 2.3 Mt of rock within a matter of seconds.”

Boonzaaier highlighted that the advantage of these large blasts is that they allow mines to blast less often; this means less disruption and a more streamlined operation. The size of the blast was not the only factor to consider, however, as a quality blast must also optimise key outcomes like fragmentation, BME said.

“We were pleased to once again achieve good fragmentation with this blast, ensuring that the resulting particle size would facilitate efficient loading, hauling and comminution by the mine,” Boonzaaier said.

The mine has made use of a full blasting service from BME for the past five years, with BME providing its expertise through a team of over 20 blasters, operators and assistants.

BME’s emulsion explosives – combined with AXXIS electronic initiation system, electronic detonators, blast planning software and other accessories – have been helping break records at South African mines for over a decade. It has conducted even larger blasts in Australia and Zambia in recent years – in the coal and copper sectors, respectively.

SMT Scharf opens new manufacturing hub in South Africa

SMT Scharf Africa has announced the official opening of a new manufacturing facility located in Johannesburg, South Africa.

In conjunction with the SMT Scharf Canada subsidiary in Alban, Ontario, both entities will build both new and remanufactured underground mining equipment for customers around the world.

With the establishment of the new facility, SMT Scharf has doubled its output capabilities and further demonstrated its commitment to the African mining sector, it said.

This new facility adds nearly 3,000 sq.m of manufacturing space including six bays for rubber tyred mobile equipment.

The location will also serve as the regional manufacturing and support centre for SMT Scharf’s monorail and chairlift products.

Bauer drives Tippler upgrade project at Saldanha iron ore terminal

Bauer Geared Motors, a business division of Hudaco Trading Ltd, has been awarded a contract to deliver a total drive solution that includes five large sized 750 kW industrial gearboxes and two 185 kW units for the Tippler upgrade project at the Saldanha Iron Ore export terminal in South Africa.

Weighing up to 15 t each, the 750 kW gearboxes are the largest machines ever supplied by Bauer.

Bauer says it has been a market leader in electric drives since 1984, initially specialising in geared motors. The Hudaco power transmission division later diversified, expanding its portfolio to include industrial gearboxes and transmission solutions.

It joined the Hudaco group in 2002 and, in the same year, became a supplier to Saldanha providing slew and bucketwheel drives. Bauer upgraded these drives after 10 years of operation and, in 2020, supplied a third slew drive with planetary gearboxes, and an overland conveyor.

When Derek Gilmore joined Bauer as Managing Director – Drives and Motors, in June 2019, the Tippler upgrade project for Saldanha Iron Ore port fell under his auspices. He explained that the company responsible for overseeing the project favoured a total solutions supply chain through a single sourced provider.

“The fact that Hudaco is a listed supplier to the Saldanha Port operation paved the way for Bauer, as part of the Hudaco group, to put in a bid on the drive requirements for this project,” he said.

Bauer proved compliance on design and all critical criteria as specified by the main consulting house.

The full scope of supply from Bauer includes industrial gearboxes, medium-voltage electric motors, drive base plates, high- and low-speed couplings, brakes, actuators, parts and spares as well as condition monitoring.

“We will also be responsible for torque arm and complete drive assembly,” Gilmore added.

“Our industrial gearboxes are manufactured by India-based OEM, Elecon Engineering Company Ltd, one of the largest manufacturers of industrial gear units in Asia,” he said. These gearboxes boast a service factor of more than two and 100,000 hours design life, according to the company.

The 750 kW gearboxes, two parallel drive systems and three parallel and tandem drives, will be installed on a sacrificial conveyor and a 283 m long overland conveyor, respectively. The 185 kW units will drive an adjustable shuttle conveyor.

Compliant with necessary and important thermal criteria, the 750 kW gearboxes are equipped with a cooling and forced lubrication system with dual oil pumps, one serving as a backup unit. Gilmore explains that, in addition to machine longevity, this system is also a safety feature, keeping the drive temperature to below a safe-touch of 70°C.

Bauer will also be responsible for providing the condition monitoring sensors to facilitate remote monitoring of the gearboxes, including motor speed and motor windings temperatures, brake wear and temperatures, oil levels and flow pressures, as well as bearing wear and vibrations.

“Early detection allows for a planned shutdown to do the necessary maintenance, thereby avoiding critical failure and costly downtime,” Gilmore noted.

He said Bauer is also supplying large 710 mm diameter hydraulic disk brakes for the sacrificial and shuttle conveyors in collaboration with supply partner, Magnet Service Binder.

Tronox boosts mineral sands dredging process with help of IPR-supplied SlurrySucker

Following a successful one-week trial, heavy minerals company Tronox Mineral Sands has taken delivery of a SlurrySucker dredging unit from Integrated Pump Rental.

The SlurrySucker will remove sand from the process dams near the Tronox mining operation on South Africa’s West Coast. This installation enhances the safety and efficiency of the dredging process, which previously had to be carried out manually by a team of underwater divers, IPR said.

“The pumping capacity of the dredging unit will ensure optimal operation of Tronox’s dams which need to be kept at the required storage volumes at all times,” Ruaan Venter, Rental Development Manager at Integrated Pump Rental, said.

The dredging unit will assist Tronox in regularly cleaning sediment from its process dams, reducing the risk of pump blockage or failure. This solution aims to provide rapid results on a cost-effective basis, while the remote operation raises safety levels, the company added.

To withstand the corrosive effects of salt water, the SlurrySucker has been equipped with a stainless steel casing as well as stainless steel components including wear plates and impellers. The units were manufactured at Integrated Pump Rental’s facility in Jet Park, Johannesburg, South Africa.

The SlurrySucker dredging unit comprises a floating barge with an electric hoist operated from the side of the dam. This ensures a high level of safety with the barge being operated remotely, including the lifting and lowering of the pump. At Tronox, the SlurrySucker is designed to pump 150 cu.m/h of sediment – with a solids content of 50% – back to the thickener in the plant.

“The electrically-driven unit also makes sure that there is no risk of contaminating the water in the dams with diesel or oil leakage,” Venter says. The compact unit is easy to transport between the dams requiring dredging, making for optimal usage of the equipment.

With its local manufacturing capability and technical support offering, Integrated Pump Rental says it is well equipped to maintain the SlurrySucker out of its Johannesburg facility.

Gold Fields wins NERSA approval for South Deep solar power plant

Gold Fields says it has received the electricity generation licence approval from the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) for the construction of a 40 MW solar power plant at its South Deep gold mine in the country.

The acting CEO of NERSA now has to authorise the licence, a decision that should be forthcoming over the next two weeks, the miner said. All the regulatory approvals to proceed with the project will then be in place.

Gold Fields will update its definitive costings and finalise all the required internal processes to commence the project as soon as possible. The company has stated previously that the solar plant has the potential to provide around 20% of South Deep’s average electricity consumption.

Nick Holland, Gold Fields CEO, said: “The solar power plant will increase the reliability and affordability of power supply to South Deep, ultimately enhancing the long-term sustainability of the mine.

“The approval of this licence sends a strong, positive message to mining companies and their investors, potentially leading to decisions being taken to sustain and grow mining operations in the country, especially in deep-level, underground, marginal mines. Enabling companies to generate their own power also gives Eskom room to address operational issues at its power plants.”

Gold Fields says its energy objectives are based on four pillars – energy must be reliable, available, cost-effective and clean – which promote a shift to self-generation using renewable energy sources. “We are fully committed to making our contribution towards net-zero emissions,” Holland says.

During 2020, Gold Fields successfully implemented solar and wind power plants, backed by battery storage, at two of its Australian mines, Agnew and Granny Smith, and committed to renewables at its other Australian mines, Gruyere and St Ives, as well as the Salares Norte project in Chile when it starts operations in 2023. All its other mines are also reviewing renewable energy options.

Since full commissioning of the Agnew microgrid, renewable electricity averages over 55% of total supply at the mine.

During 2020, renewable electricity averaged 8% for the Australia region and 3% of total group electricity, Gold Fields said. Once the South Deep project is commissioned, renewable’s contribution to the group total will rise to around 11%.

Holland concluded: “We expect our investment in renewable and low-carbon energy sources to contribute significantly to our carbon emission reductions over the next few years. Power from the South Deep solar plant will partially replace coal-fired electricity from Eskom, enabling us to significantly reduce our Scope 2 carbon emissions.”

Kumba plans Sishen UHDMS iron ore project kick off

Kumba Iron Ore, energised by a record annual EBITDA of R45.8 billion ($3.12 billion) for its 2020 financial year, has made plans to extend the life of its Sishen iron ore mine in South Africa out to 2039.

The R3.6 billion ultra-high dense media separation (UHDMS) project was approved by the Kumba board late last week. It is expected to enhance the operation’s product quality and extend the life-of-mine by four years to 2039.

Kumba’s total iron ore production for 2020 came in at 37 Mt, down from 42.4 Mt in 2019 as both COVID-19-related events and weather-related headwinds impacted output. The company said reduced equipment reliability and availability also played a part to a lesser extent.

In line with this, total tonnes mined decreased by 14% to 256.3 Mt (2019: 297.9 Mt) and total waste stripping by 16% to 204.8 Mt (2019: 244.3 Mt) in 2020.

Owner fleet efficiency (OEE) reduced to 63% of benchmark for the year, compared with 68% for 2019.

“A number of interventions have been implemented to mitigate these impacts,” the company said. “We have enhanced our high rainfall readiness and associated recovery plans to manage through such weather impacts going forward.

“Our focus on improving equipment uptime through the implementation of defect elimination and work management programs, as well as artisan and supervisor skills development programs, is also delivering results and we are seeing improvements in equipment reliability across the fleet.”

The company is continuing to focus on improving operational efficiency through its P101 productivity improvements and various efficiency programs at both Sishen and Kolomela through the implementation of technology such as guided spotting, adaptive controls, truck speed digital twin and real-time condition-based monitoring.

Kumba’s total shovel fleet OEEs came in at 55% during 2020, but the company has a plan to hit the 80% mark in 2022. At Sishen, Kumba has six rope shovels consisting of Komatsu P&H 4100XPCs and Komatsu P&H 2800XPCs, while, at Kolomela, it has two Liebherr R996 hydraulic shovels.

Its total truck fleet OEEs came in at 82% in 2020, with a 100% target for 2022. At Sishen, Kumba has 100 Komatsu 860E and 960E trucks, while Kolomela has 36 Komatsu 730E trucks.

Meanwhile, at the UHDMS project, Kumba expects to break ground in the second half of 2021. This is ahead of commissioning in the second half of 2023.

Kumba, majority-owned by Anglo American, says the project will lower the strip ratio at the operation, extend the life-of-mine, as well as reduce its carbon footprint due to the reduction of waste material at the end of the operation’s life.

The total capital cost of the project of R3.6 billion is expected to be paid back with an after-tax internal rate of return of circa-30% and an EBITDA margin of around 40%.

Kumba already has a dense media separation plant that processes low-grade, non-DSO ore and separates it to higher grade iron ore at Kolomela (pictured).