Tag Archives: South Africa

BME’s achieves another record-breaking blast with AXXIS Titanium electronic detonators

Another record-breaking blast has been notched up by Omnia Group company BME using its latest generation AXXIS Titanium™ electronic detonation system.

The blast of 5,209 detonators was conducted recently at a chrome mine in South Africa’s North West province, according to Tinus Brits, BME’s Global Product Manager – AXXIS. Brits highlighted how the enhanced features of AXXIS Titanium allows mines to respond quickly and easily to raised production demands.

“While a record blast is always an achievement to be celebrated, this was a standard production blast requiring nothing different or extra from the mine,” he said. “The ease-of-use of AXXIS Titanium, the speed at which blasts can be prepared, and its rapid testing features make this possible.”

The dual-voltage basis of the new system means that detonators can be tested while they are logged in, with the logging and testing conducted as a single function. As a result, this record blast could be primed, charged, tied-up, logged, tested and programmed in just two days.

“With AXXIS Titanium, the logger does everything for you,” Brits said. Multiple loggers were used on the blast, with each operator logging a portion of the blast to speed up the process; the log files were then seamlessly combined.

By consuming less energy, AXXIS Titanium allows up to 1,000 detonators to be initiated by each blasting box – reducing the amount of equipment that is needed on site.

“This helps improve the reliability of blasts, as there are fewer items of equipment to communicate with each other,” Brits said. “These high levels of reliability ensure a quality blast with no misfires, even in single-prime blasts – where there is just one detonator per hole – as was the case in this record blast.”

He also emphasised the intuitive fault-finding capacity of the AXXIS Titanium system, which identifies those detonators which have not been logged onto the harness wire. The operator is informed precisely where the relevant detonator is to be found, so it can be quickly logged.

“It also solves the problem of ‘intruders’ – those detonators that were accidentally missed during the logging process,” Brits said. “Again, the operator can speedily fix this issue wherever it occurs, ensuring that there are no misfires in the blast.”

The design of the AXXIS Titanium connector is another important factor, allowing blasters to log and test detonators without the need to open the connector. The gel in the connector that ensures a good seal, therefore, is not disturbed during testing and logging.

“It only gets opened up once you connect it to the surface wire, which is why the sealing of our connectors is so good – eradicating resistance or leakage on the block,” Brits said.

Howden tapping into South African deep mining experience

Mines are getting deeper with every year that passes – 30 m deeper, if industry reports are correct.

With increased depth, comes increased ventilation and cooling needs, a fact Howden knows well from its experience of working with the deepest mines in South Africa.

Originally founded in 1854 by James Howden in Scotland as a marine engineering firm, Howden made an entry into South Africa in the 1950s seeking to cater to the demands of the mining and power industries. By the 1960s, it was helping equip the country’s deep gold mines with all the ventilation and cooling products they needed to extract ore safely and productively from kilometres below surface.

“Initially mines used only ventilation as a method of cooling, but, as mining depth increased, mechanical refrigeration was required to counteract the increasing heat loads in mines,” Theuns Wasserman: Team Leader – Howden SA’s Mine Cooling and Compressor Division, told IM.

This saw many deep gold mines in South Africa install Freon™ centrifugal chillers above and below ground to provide the necessary cooling for personnel and machines underground.

While an improvement on the status quo, the heat rejection system for underground machines proved problematic, with the machines’ cooling capacity limited by the temperature and amount of reject air available, according to Wasserman. At the same time, the water quality of the mines resulted in high fouling on the piping shell and tube heat exchangers employed on these early centrifugal chillers.

This resulted in the machines being limited to cooled water temperatures of 6-8°C, he said.

To rectify this, mines started to pump chilled air from surface to underground. While this boosted cooling capacity, the required infrastructure took up space in the shaft and the process was both energy- and opex-intensive.

Battling these issues, mines looked to maximise the amount of cooled air that was sent underground via chilled water plants.

This led Howden to introduce ammonia-based screw chillers into South African mines, which were initially employed in series after the existing surface centrifugal chillers. This enabled a step change in the amount of cooling that could be transported to these deep underground gold mines, bringing the average water temperature sent from surface down from 6-8°C, to 1°C. Mines were able to use the same shaft pipe infrastructure, which many of them had in place, while drastically increasing the amount of cooling sent to deep levels.

Some 20 years after their introduction, Howden, as a leading market player in the space, developed the WRV 510 – a large block screw compressor with a 510 mm rotor. This was, at the time, one of the largest screw compressors on the market, which suited the module sizes of the chillers required for refrigerating these deep South African mines.

“That changed the game as mines could install a single refrigeration machine with 10-12 MW of capacity, instead of a fleet of chillers,” Wasserman said. “At the same time, ammonia, as a ‘green’ refrigerant, perfectly suited the screw compressor and plate heat exchanger combination.”

The considerations around the use of ammonia were formalised into mining-specific ammonia codes and safety standards that Howden was instrumental in devising. These have since been updated and incorporated into South African legislation.

Such success is evidenced by more than 350 MW of ammonia-based refrigeration capacity installed in the South African mining sector, believed to be the most of any country in the world.

But Howden’s South Africa-based innovations did not end there, with the company, in 1985, adding ice production plants on surface to its expanding mine cooling remit.

With surface and underground refrigeration options maximised or deemed too expensive, mines needed a new cooling solution to further expand mining into even deeper levels.

The first surface ice plant (example below) was installed by Howden in 1985 at the ERPM (East Rand Proprietary Mines) mine, east of Johannesburg, which had a final total cooling capacity of some 40 MW with an ice production capacity of 4,320 t/h.

The basis of operation saw ice produced on surface and sent down the mine shaft to an underground ice dam, with water from the ice dam then circulated to underground cooling stations or used as service water for drilling. The ice melt was then pumped back to surface.

The primary benefit of this ice system was the pumping cost reduction, being some 75-80% less than the opex associated with a system where chilled water is sent from surface. This is down to the inherent “cooling energy stored in the phase change of the water”, Wasserman said, explaining that 1 kg/s of ice has the same cooling capacity as 4.5-5 kg/s of chilled water.

With a “superior positional efficiency”, an underground water dam can be maintained at 2-5°C to enhance the thermal performance of underground air cooling stations – again, maximising the cooling capacity.

Another benefit of ice production plants that has specific relevance in South Africa – a country renowned for grid instability – is the ability for the system to be used as a method of thermal storage where ice is produced and accumulated in the underground ice dam and used during peak periods.

This latter advantage led to the development of an Eskom-backed industry collaboration project involving Howden looking at using an ice plant to reduce peak power demand, with test cases situated at Mponeng, the world’s deepest underground mine, and Moab Khotsong.

“We froze up a dam of water during the night (off-peak) and that water and ice melt was used during peak time as a mine cooling source,” Wasserman explained. “The baseload refrigeration plant was switched off during peak periods, taking the pressure off the grid.”

It led to the development of a full turnkey ice plant at Mponeng where Howden carried out works including the civils, electrical and mechanical equipment for a 12 MW, 120 t/h ice plant.

The latest addition to the primary cooling strategy for Mponeng mine that already included soft ice, chilled water from surface, surface bulk air coolers (BACs) and underground refrigeration systems, the ice plant was equipped with duplex stainless steel plate ice makers to deal with the high concentrations of dissolved salts and chlorides present in the mine water at the operation.

It is this wealth of experience in South Africa and a focus on solutions rather than solely products that continues to be translated on a global scale, as MG Mynhardt, Howden’s current Manager of Compressors in South Africa and soon-to-be Head of Global Mine Cooling, said.

With more mines going deeper and space within the shaft at a premium, it is easy to see such a solution having applications in other parts of the world, as Wasserman hinted at.

Mynhardt said: “Howden has been ‘exporting’ its South African deep mine cooling expertise for decades. Back in the 1990s, for instance, we provided a mine cooling solution for an underground gold mine in Nevada.

“One interesting technology utilised by some South African mines is thermal ice storage that is used for load shifting – where thermal energy is stored in large ice dams. The ice is produced during peak periods and utilised in peak periods,” he said. “Conventionally, refrigeration plants are sized for maximum ambient temperature, which might be experienced for three hours a day in the summer months. Yet, if you have a facility to store your cooling energy, you could reduce this capacity.”

The parallels with battery energy storage for replacing excess spinning reserves are obvious here.

“If you have an electricity tariff plan where you have a quite high peak power tariff that you want to shift to a cheaper off-peak tariff, these ice plant solutions could make for a strong business case,” he said. “The upfront capital for the plant could be offset against the lower operating costs.”

At the same time as these, BACs used at mines in South Africa for decades are gaining prominence across the globe.

The newest generation BACs have higher thermal efficiency than their predecessors, lower limits on the shaft air temperature and a reduced footprint when compared with traditional BAC construction types. They are also embedded with the cooling on demand (CoD) module within Howden’s Ventsim CONTROL platform where the temperature of the shaft collar air can be automatically modified to meet the demand below surface.

Howden supplied three of these new-generation BACs in the past year to customers in Brazil and Burkina Faso.

The company can also manufacture customised solutions to deal with challenging operating environments; a recent example being the “unique BAC” operating with ammonia chillers installed at the Carrapateena mine in South Australia for OZ Minerals.

“Without any water available, in Australia, Howden installed dry condensers with Howden ammonia-based compressors along with a closed-loop dry bulk air cooler,” Wasserman said of this installation. “These coolers were engineered for ultimate efficiency considering it was a ‘dry’ plant as opposed to an open-headed spray cooler installed in applications where water resources are available.”

And the company is currently trialling an “uptime” condition monitoring solution at the 8 MW surface BAC plant (pictured below) it designed and engineered for Fortuna Silver’s Yaramoko mine (previously Roxgold) in Burkina Faso.

This system, monitored from Howden’s Johannesburg facility, allows the company to advise of potential efficiency gains and maintenance issues to ensure the plant is run as optimally as possible. The BAC installation at Ero Copper’s Caraiba mining complex in Brazil has also been designed to use such functionality.

This isn’t to say Howden is only focused on projects outside of South Africa – far from it.

Its Total Mine Ventilation Solution (TMVS) platform is continuing to build sustainable, value-adding relationships, which saw the company carry out two ventilation on demand (VoD) feasibility studies in the country in 2021.

Just over the border in Zimbabwe, it is working on a project that could see VoD-enablement of an automated door at an underground mine, to allow it to open at different increments and supply the required quantity of cooled air based on specific vehicle demand.

Such technology developments – using existing available mine infrastructure and readily available data feeds – will become part and parcel of the Howden offering in the future.

Howden’s South Africa experience – learning how to engineer cooling solutions to deal with the poor water quality at its deep gold mines, how to make solutions as energy efficient as possible to circumvent grid issues and how to cater to some of the strictest air quality, temperature and occupational hygiene regulations across the globe – will continue to pay off for mines all over the world.

Kropz introduces first ore to Elandsfontein phosphate processing plant

Kropz, an emerging Africa-focused phosphate developer, has introduced first ore to its plant at the Elandsfontein mine, in the Western Cape of South Africa in what it says is a major milestone.

Now that ore has been introduced to the plant, the team is ensuring all the front end circuits are balanced and running stably. The flotation circuits will then be commissioned and the reagents added in due course for the production of the first concentrate. Commissioning activities are expected to transition into full scale ramp-up of the mining and beneficiation plant over the coming six months.

Mining activities at Elandsfontein commenced in October 2021, and significant volumes of ore are available to support the commissioning ramp-up, according to the company.

Elandsfontein, 74% owned by Kropz, hosts South Africa’s second-largest phosphate deposit, according to the company.

Kropz purchased the Elandsfontein property in 2010, developing an open-pit mining operation and on-site processing facility with a production capacity of 1 Mt/y on site. Some $160 million has been invested in project development, mine, processing plant and construction of associated infrastructure. Rock phosphate from the open-pit mine will be stockpiled, before passing to the milling and classification circuit in the processing plant where it is prepared for flotation. Concentrate and tailings streams are thickened and filtered. The concentrate is then dried and stored for dispatch to port.

Kropz CEO, Mark Summers, said: “The introduction of ore to the processing plant reflects the successful culmination of the construction phase and signals the commencement of the next chapter in the company’s development. I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation for the tireless efforts of all of those involved in reaching this milestone safely and on time, despite the many challenges that the past two years have presented.”

Transnet has provided the company with a draft port access agreement to support the long-term export of Elandsfontein’s phosphate rock through the port of Saldanha. The contract is now being finalised between the parties. First phosphate rock ore exports from Elandsfontein are expected in the March quarter of 2022.

It is anticipated that the imported reagents required for the recovery of phosphate concentrate will be delivered this month, however, the supply chain situation remains a challenge, with the recent force majeure declared by Transnet Port Terminals in Cape Town on December 21, presenting further risk to the project, Kropz said. The company is investigating options to off-load containers at alternative ports and transport the commodities to the mine site by road to arrive in early January 2022.

Sandvik LH115L low profile loader gains ROPS and FOPS ISO certification

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions’ South African operation has another feather in its cap, having achieved ISO certification for the roll over protection structure (ROPS) and falling object protective structure (FOPS) of the Sandvik LH115L low profile loader.

The ROPS and FOPS for the South Africa-built Sandvik LH115L low profile loader has always been engineered in accordance with ISO standards, according to Deon Lambert, Business Line Manager at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions.

“The only difference was that local customers initially requested a total height of 1.6 m for the unit, which meant it was limited to low height deflection-limiting volume (DLV),” Lambert said. “More recently, we have increased the height of the canopy by 70 mm, giving us the DLV to secure full certification in terms of ISO.”

Following the acceptance of the new canopy design from the factory, the way is now clear for manufacturing to be carried out locally. The new design was successfully tested at the company’s Finland head office facilities, according to Sandvik.

The LH115L loader has been produced in South Africa since 2017 when Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions established a manufacturing facility in Jet Park, near Johannesburg. This has allowed about 70% of the machine’s content to be locally sourced.

“The first customer to place an order for a machine with the new canopy height already has five of our locally produced LH115L loaders at its mine, and these will be retrofitted with the new certified canopy,” Lambert said. “All future units of this model produced by our local facility will also have the newly designed canopy and the associated certification.”

In addition to complying with the latest safety requirements of South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, the local content of the Sandvik LH115L low profile loader will assist mines in meeting their Mining Charter local procurement targets, Sandvik said.

Designed for harsh underground conditions, the 5.5 t payload loader boasts high availability and ease of maintenance, together optimising its lifetime operational costs, the company said.

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions says it provides the full low-profile portfolio offering of underground drills and bolters to ensure matching sets of equipment.

Tharisa kicks off Vulcan ultra-fine chrome recovery and beneficiation plant commissioning

Tharisa, the platinum group metals (PGMs) and chrome co-producer, has announced that cold commissioning of its Vulcan ultra-fine chrome recovery and beneficiation plant has commenced.

The timetable to completion of the new $55 million plant remains firmly on track with initial saleable production due before year end, it says.

Once fully commissioned, the plant is expected to see Tharisa Mine, in South Africa, materially increase its chrome recoveries from circa-62% to circa-82% resulting in increased chrome production of some 20% at low incremental unit operating costs.

The plant, which will process live tailings produced by the independent Voyager (pictured) and Genesis plants, will ensure further beneficiation of the company’s chrome production at the Tharisa Mine, while reducing unit output of carbon emissions, aligned with Tharisa’s recently announced decarbonisation plan, the company says.

The Vulcan plant has a nameplate capacity of 340,000 t/mth of tailings and involves “proprietary ground-breaking use of existing technologies in fine chrome recovery”, the company says. The board initially signed off its construction in 2019, appointing Wood as the engineering, procurement and construction management contractor in the process, with hot commissioning targeted for the December quarter of 2020. This timeline was impacted by COVID-19.

Some final elements of the construction process remain to be completed, yet Tharisa’s engineering team has commenced cold commissioning, with comprehensive testing of the entire circuit, to be completed prior to chrome tailings material entering the plant. Of the total capital expenditure, over 90% was procured locally in South Africa, with up to 1,000 contractors locally sourced and over 100 new permanent jobs created.

Vulcan is, Tharisa says, the first large-scale plant to produce chrome concentrates from chrome ultra-fines. The concept of Vulcan was developed by Arxo Metals Proprietary Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the company and housing Tharisa’s in-house R&D team, to extract the ultra-fine chrome from tailings.

With Tharisa Mine near Rustenburg having a 14-year open-pit life remaining, and a further 40 years underground, Vulcan will ensure maximum value extraction and beneficiation of the chrome ore, Tharisa says. The Tharisa Mine has 860 Mt in mineral resource containing 172 Mt in contained Cr2O3 and 42.8 Moz platinum group metals.

Internally funded by Tharisa, Vulcan recommenced construction in October 2020 after the lifting of restrictions by the South African government during the height of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Phoevos Pouroulis, CEO of Tharisa, says: “Commissioning of the Vulcan plant perfectly exemplifies two Tharisa philosophies: challenging convention through innovation and delivering on our promise of maximising value through beneficiation of every cube mined.

“Vulcan provides the company with the ability to further beneficiate our product whilst staying on track to meet our decarbonisation targets, thanks to the dedicated work from Arxo Metals, that has not only delivered the Vulcan process but has also delivered further beneficiation opportunities, including metal alloys and PGM products using non-conventional methodologies.

“Vulcan is an important part of our sustainable growth strategy and ensures that Tharisa continues to drive sustainable returns for all of our stakeholders, while simultaneously pushing us even lower on the cost curve.”

South Africa’s hydrogen potential validated in Anglo American-led feasibility study

Anglo American, in collaboration with South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), the South African National Development Institute (SANEDI), Engie and Bambili Energy, has announced the results of a feasibility study to explore the potential for a hydrogen valley anchored in the Bushveld complex of South Africa, along the industrial and commercial corridor to Johannesburg and to the south coast at Durban.

The feasibility study, which was launched in March of this year, identifies three hubs – Johannesburg, extending to Rustenburg and Pretoria; Durban, encompassing the city itself and Richards Bay; and Limpopo province centred around Anglo American’s Mogalakwena platinum group metals (PGMs) mine (pictured) – with a fundamental role to play in integrating hydrogen into South Africa’s economy, and in establishing South Africa and its renewable energy resources as a strategically important centre for green hydrogen production, Anglo says.

Nine key pilot projects have also been identified across these hubs and are recommended to be prioritised by developers. They span the transport, industrial and construction sectors.

Following the publication of the feasibility study results, Anglo says it will work with South Africa’s DSI and the other partners on the implementation of relevant projects, as well as continue to progress its own company-led initiatives towards development of the hydrogen economy.

Anglo 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 (FCEVs) – the world’s largest to run on hydrogen.

Natascha Viljoen, CEO of Anglo American’s PGMs business, said: “The opportunity to create new engines of economic activity through hydrogen has been validated through this feasibility study with our partners. As a leading producer of PGMs, we have for some years been working towards establishing the right ecosystem to successfully develop, scale-up and deploy hydrogen-fuelled solutions. These include investing in innovative ventures and enabling technologies, as well as forging wide-ranging collaborations across industry, to fully harness the transformative potential of green hydrogen for our economy in South Africa.”

Epiroc-Fraser McGill collaboration highlights battery-electric vehicle benefits

Epiroc says its collaboration with Fraser McGill on an impact study of battery-electric vehicles has exceeded expectations, opening up a new frontier in the worldwide underground power revolution.

In 2018, Epiroc launched a new suite of battery-powered products. Following that, the company approached one of the partners in the Waterberg Platinum Group Metals project in South Africa to present the equipment. As a greenfield project, the mine will be able to tailor its planned infrastructure to new equipment technologies, thereby maximising potential benefits. Specialist mining and minerals advisory company, Fraser McGill, was approached to conduct an impact study of battery-electric vehicles and requested help from industry leader Epiroc.

Epiroc’s Mining & Construction publication brought Epiroc’s Don Thompson and Fraser McGill Director, Rob McGill, together to discuss what they found.

Epiroc: How did Fraser McGill come to cooperate with Epiroc on this study?

RM: I’ve been involved with the Waterberg project for many years. I’d been interested in battery-vehicle technologies, specifically to reduce the ventilation and the cooling requirements, but hadn’t had the opportunity to look at battery vehicles in detail. We weren’t looking to partner with one supplier. We were conducting a broad assessment, looking at the impact of battery-electric vehicles on large underground projects – not specifically Epiroc’s equipment. But Epiroc was the furthest ahead in the game, and still is. With the relationship we had with Epiroc, it was a natural fit.

Fraser McGill Director, Rob McGill

Epiroc: What practical steps did your collaboration entail?

DT: Epiroc introduced our first-generation battery-electric fleet in Canada in 2016. We launched the next generation in 2018, with better battery and motor technology. By then we had clocked up more than 100,000 hours, so we had good data, based on actual machines running in production environments. For this study, we provided the technical comparison of diesel versus battery electric, and the benefits thereof, because we can supply the diesel equivalent of a battery-electric machine. We could provide a comparison of heat generation – with ventilation, there’s a significant reduction of what is required. We could also provide the emissions. That was provided to Rob and his team.

RM: Diesel vehicles have been around a long time. There is a lot of data from operations, in terms of how they perform, costs, maintenance schedules and replacement schedules. With the electric vehicles being newer, we had to rely on Epiroc to make a lot of theoretical data available related to the design, and data they’ve been gathering since they rolled out their first generation and the next-generation machines. We conducted the study, but relied on Epiroc to provide us with input and insights, and technical and costing information that allowed us to do an assessment. The comparison goes far beyond comparing two vehicle technologies. The battery vehicle certainly is more efficient and, over time, cheaper. But a lot of the benefits relate to the environment that they operate in – to improvements in health, safety and productivity of workers.

Epiroc: How did your collaboration help identify mine infrastructure and design modifications needed?

DT: We provided the specifications on the chargers required. We provided a number of scenarios and battery selections, and different layouts of charging stations. Fraser McGill would recommend where the client should put the charging station and we could recommend the capacity of the chargers, based on the size and number of vehicles.

RM: A crucial opportunity in a greenfield project is that it allows you to consider how an underground mine would be designed differently if you started with a battery-electric vehicle in mind.

DT: The technical data Epiroc provided would be applicable to greenfield and brownfield operations, but it’s much more suited to a greenfield operation because you can adjust the mine layout. The mine would consider redesigning the tunnel layout to see where we can enhance the regeneration of batteries because it reduces the cost.

RM: An example is the hauling model. If we predominantly hauled rock on the incline versus the decline, we would significantly increase our battery operating cost. It’s something we can quantify already, but it requires that redesign.

Epiroc: What made your collaboration a success, and what have you learned from it?

DT: Interest from the client was probably the main driver. They realised that, with a greenfield project, it made sense to do a trade-off study. But I don’t think we could have done this alone. We don’t have the resources, here or in Sweden, when it comes to the full package calculation – be it ventilation, the mining layout, or contacts with the different clients.

Don Thompson, Manager Global Customer Relationships, Epiroc

RM: Any collaboration is successful if you’ve got the same vision. We must ensure we provide decision-making tools that are well informed, so we need to speak to people who really know what they’re talking about. Then we can comfortably go to our mining customers and say: this is really the way to go. I’m very impressed with what Epiroc has done in this regard.

Epiroc: How was the study received?

RM: Since completing this study and circulating some of the outcomes, we’ve had interest in Canada, in Australia and from several customers in South Africa who we are talking to about doing similar studies. The technologies are so attractive, and customers are asking: Where do I start? How do I roll it out? What’s the state of the technology?

Epiroc: Do you foresee future collaboration?

RM: Absolutely. It’s been a good experience, and we rely on working with experts. We are thrilled to have worked with a technology leader like Epiroc.

DT: Another client has shown an interest in battery-electric technology for a new mine they are developing. They want to do a comparative study, and we hope to collaborate with Fraser McGill on this, too.

This interview is an edited version of a piece that first appeared here

Glencore-backed mine rehab pilot to showcase post-closure opportunities

A pilot project at a former operating coal mine in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province is showcasing how different industry stakeholders can work together to achieve common ESG outcomes, according to the partners involved.

The Mpumalanga Winter Wheat Pilot, launched in April this year, aims to show how remediated mine land and water can provide economic opportunities for households and the broader community once a mine is closed.

The pilot is trialling a variety of winter wheat at two sites including a rehabilitated mine site at the Umsimbithi-owned Wonderfontein mine and on nearby community land. Successful implementation will mean improved food diversity and security, added farm-based employment, and, over time, the possible introduction of new skills behind crop processing, the partners said.

The pilot is being executed by Melbourne-headquartered Business for Development in partnership with Glencore, Umsimbithi, ICMM Impact Catalyst and the MWCB.

It runs from April 2021 to January 2022, with the program set to scale and support more than 14,300 smallholder farming families. These farming families support 57,000 people residing in the Mpumalanga province, a region providing more than 80% of South Africa’s coal resources.

“A key strength of the pilot is the combination of each partner’s skills and insights – MWCB’s knowledge of the region’s water and land constraints; ICMM’s mine closure knowledge; Business for Developments’ on-the-ground experience in developing agriculture programs linked to market; Glencore’s commitment to sustainably transitioning their mine sites; and Impact Catalyst’s knowledge of South Africa’s regulations and government requirements – enabling the team to develop a realistic strategy to transition the region both environmentally and economically,” the partners said.

On completion in December, key operational learnings will be shared with the South African Government on how Mpumalanga can transition from mining (which accounts for 29.8% of provincial GDP) – through the creation of new jobs, skills, investments and a more equal, resilient local economy.

Following this, Business for Development will look at developing the required systems, including expanded distribution and markets for the wheat, to replicate the program on other sites.

Sandvik reinforces commitment to southern Africa miners with new South Africa HQ

In a strategic move that, it says, will consolidate its resources and further enhance its service to customers, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions has moved its South Africa headquarters to brand new, purpose-designed premises in Kempton Park near Johannesburg.

According to Simon Andrews, Managing Director at Sandvik South Africa, the state-of-the-art Khomanani facility includes three large workshop areas and office space on a 62,000 sq.m site.

“As the Tsonga name Khomanani reflects – ‘hold each other together as a unit’ – our new home unites us under one roof to collaborate, adapt and learn as we strive towards higher standards,” Andrews says. “The technical synergies of the workshops add to our commitment and capacity for local production that meets global quality requirements.”

Two of the workshops are dedicated to refurbishment and rebuilding of local equipment for the southern African region – mainly Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. This is where new standard-format equipment is configured for local use – typically including features like safety systems, lighting, toe-hitches and decals to customer specifications.

“Our remanufacturing facility allows us to completely rebuild machines to OEM standards, including the sub-assembly refurbishments on transmissions, axles, differential and pump motors,” Andrews says.

The first workshop has 23 bays for machines to be refurbished, while the second is specially equipped with 100 t capacity flooring for the heavier tracked equipment such as underground continuous miners and surface drill rigs. The layout of the site allows the heavy transport vehicles to loop in and out with equipment without needing to manoeuvre, improving workflow and efficiency, the company says.

A combination of cranes from 5 t to 30 t capacity – as well as a specialised 50 t forklift – facilitate safe and quick off-loading and reloading.

The third workshop focuses on local assembly of equipment for both South Africa as well as global markets to Sandvik’s OEM standards.

“Our investment in local manufacturing capacity is an important vote of confidence in South Africa and its mining sector,” Andrews says. “The quality of our work is also world class, allowing Sandvik to shift certain manufacturing duties from elsewhere in the world to our new facility.”

In line with Sandvik’s international guidelines, the design of Khomanani prioritises energy and water efficiency. With a shared solar photovoltaic system and use of LED light bulbs, the building is expected to achieve a 48% saving on energy, also making greater use of natural light, roof insulation and ‘low-E’ coated glass.

Water-efficient fixtures, fittings and systems, as well as rainwater harvesting, will improve water consumption levels by 42%, according to the company.

SPH Kundalila adds another Lokotrack LT120 for crushing fleet at platinum mine

SPH Kundalila has reaffirmed its faith in Metso Outotec crushers by putting to work another Lokotrack® LT120™ from local distributor Pilot Crushtec at an open-pit platinum mine near Rustenburg in South Africa’s North West province.

The Lokotrack LT120 mobile jaw crushing plant was acquired early in 2021, and has since been added to the fleet at the mine where SPH Kundalila has been conducting crushing operations for the customer since 2013.

“The new machine is part of our ongoing plant renewal process, ensuring that our fleet performs optimally with high uptime levels,” Graeme Campbell, Group Commercial Manager at SPH Kundalila, says. “We already have four of these models on other operations, and they have all been strong and reliable production units.”

The crushing fleet on this project processes 350,000-400,000 t/mth of platinum ore for the mine’s mineral processing plant. Material entering the crusher can be sized up to 800 mm in size, which is reduced to a product of 250 mm or less for transportation to the plant.

The mobility of the track-mounted LT120 provides the necessary flexibility that the mine requires to maintain a consistent grade for the plant, moving crushers when necessary to treat ore from different locations on site, according to the company.

SPH Kundalila Operations Manager, Dean Zeelie, says the Metso mobile crushers have proved themselves as reliable performers in front-line, hard-rock applications in the company’s contracts, with one unit notching up almost 25,000 hours to date.

“The Metso technology allows us to closely monitor machine running time and operating time, so that we can schedule regular service interventions,” he says. “Our on-site maintenance team ensures that all delivery targets are met, as our role in maintaining mine throughput is vital.”

This approach allows these mobile crushers to be completely refurbished at SPH Kundalila’s rebuild workshop in Potchefstroom at long-term intervals. This enhances reliability and lowers the total cost of ownership.

The close relationship between SPH Kundalila and Pilot Crushtec goes back over 23 years, according to Campbell, with the company investing in Metso crushers since 2007. He notes that they collaborate at early stages of potential contract opportunities when Pilot Crushtec will assist with testing and will then provide recommendations on the most suitable equipment for a job. He says Metso’s Bruno simulation software is also a valuable tool that the company uses for finding optimal solutions for its projects.

According to Francois Marais, Director Sales and Marketing at Pilot Crushtec, the Lokotrack LT120 includes a Metso C120 jaw crusher with a 1,200 mm by 870 mm feed opening, providing excellent capacity even in the toughest applications.

“The hydraulic drive ensures trouble-free operation and enables crusher direction to be changed in case of blockage or alternatively the on-board hydraulic hammer can be used, while the Caterpillar C13 engine module delivers optimal power to the high inertia flywheels,” Marais says.

“Its compact dimensions, combined with agile tracks, also make it easy to transport. The chassis design features good clearance at both ends, enabling simple loading on a trailer.”