Tag Archives: Zambia

Metso Outotec to deliver world’s largest Premier grinding mills to Kansanshi copper mine

First Quantum Minerals (FQM) has awarded an order to Metso Outotec for two very large horizontal grinding mills for the company’s copper mine expansion at Kansanshi in Zambia.

Metso Outotec’s delivery includes two Planet Positive Premier™ grinding mills with a total installed power of 50 MW – the largest Premier grinding mills Metso Outotec has delivered to date.

To meet the need for efficient and fast replacement of the lining systems, as well as ensuring a long wear life, the ball mill will be equipped with the Metso Outotec Megaliner™ and the SAG mill will be equipped with Metso Outotec metallic mill lining and a high-performance discharge system, it explained.

FQM’s Kansanshi mine, located near Solwezi in the North-western Province of Zambia, is among the largest copper mines in the world and the largest in Africa.

First Quantum Minerals is currently working on its further expansion (the Kansanshi S3 Expansion), which includes a standalone 25 Mt/y processing plant that will increase copper production substantially.

Once the expansion is completed, copper production from Kansanshi is expected to average approximately 250,000 t/y for the remaining life of mine to 2044.

The Premier horizontal grinding mills are customisable solutions built on state-of-the-art grinding mill technology, process expertise, and design capability, Metso Outotec says. The Premier horizontal grinding mills are engineered to “excel and create vast possibilities” for customers and applications.

Earlier this week, Metso Outotec was awarded what it says was a major contract for the delivery of sustainable crushing, screening and grinding technologies to a greenfield iron ore project in South America.

First Quantum board signs off development of Kansanshi S3 Expansion, Enterprise nickel project

The First Quantum Minerals Ltd Board of Directors has signed off on the S3 Expansion at the Kansanshi mine and the Enterprise nickel project, both in Zambia.

The approval will lead to work on both projects starting immediately, with the company re-commencing detailed engineering works for the S3 Expansion to determine purchase orders for key long-lead items, including the SAG mill, ball mill and in-pit crushing station; and a mining contractor being mobilised for the Enterprise nickel project in order to commence pre-stripping of the pit in June 2022.

This could see Kansanshi’s life pushed out to 2044 with the introduction of new electrical loading and drilling equipment along with the extension of the current electric trolley assist infrastructure, with Enterprise contributing some 30,000 t/y of nickel concentrate in upcoming years.

“First Quantum has been working constructively with the Government of Zambia’s New Dawn administration as part of their efforts to reform the mining sector, attract investment and increase Zambia’s copper production,” Tristan Pascall, Chief Executive Officer, said. “The approval of the projects reflects First Quantum’s increased confidence in the investment climate in Zambia.”

The S3 Expansion and the Enterprise nickel project are a key part of the company’s brownfield growth strategy, according to Pascall.

“The Kansanshi mine has been a cornerstone asset for First Quantum for 15 years and the S3 Expansion will expand production and extend the mine life for another two decades,” he said. “The low-cost, high-grade Enterprise nickel project is well placed to supply the rapidly growing electric vehicle battery sector.

“The approval of these two projects is an important milestone for the company’s path towards responsible production growth of the metals needed for the global green energy transition.”

The approval of the projects follows the efforts of the New Dawn administration to enhance both the investment climate for mining and to seek commitments from the mining sector to contribute to the national economy and to corporate social responsibility, First Quantum says. These initiatives will help establish a platform for more stable, durable and responsible mining in Zambia.

The Government of Zambia’s commitments address the ease of doing business in Zambia, covering areas such as expediting immigration procedures in exchange for commitments for local employment levels, competitive pricing of power transmission and power procurement from independent sources which in turn will support renewable energy projects, and measures to ensure the ease of importing and exporting goods.

The approvals follow the re-introduction of the deductibility of mineral royalties for corporate income tax assessment purposes that became effective in January. This measure realigned Zambia with international best practice, according to First Quantum. The government’s commitment to improve the predictability of the mining fiscal regime also provides the certainty needed to support large capital investments in Zambia.

“Furthermore, First Quantum and the government have successfully resolved all points of contention that have been stumbling blocks to progress on the S3 Expansion and Enterprise nickel project,” it said. “This includes reaching agreement in respect to the outstanding value-added tax receivable sum and an approach for repayment based on offsets against future mining taxes and royalties.”

The S3 Expansion is expected to transition the current selective high-grade, medium-scale operation to a medium-grade, larger-scale mining operation that will be more appropriate for the higher proportion of primary, lower-grade sulphide ores at depth, First Quantum said. As outlined in the NI 43-101 Technical Report filed in September 2020, the S3 Expansion, when completed, will comprise of a standalone 25 Mt/y processing plant with a new larger mining fleet that will increase Kansanshi’s total annual throughput to 53 Mt/y.

Once the expansion is completed, copper production from Kansanshi is expected to average approximately 250,000 t/y for the remaining life of mine to 2044.

A significant portion of the initial construction works for the S3 Expansion have been previously undertaken with much of the civil and structural work on-site completed, First Quantum said. The remaining work includes completion of the remaining engineering design works, procurement and installation of equipment, electrics, controls and infrastructure. The S3 processing train will comprise of a 28 MW SAG mill and a 22 MW ball mill. The open-pit mine will be expanded to increase the supply of sulphide ore from the Main Pit and extend into the South East Dome deposit. The expanded mining fleet will use similar ultra-class equipment as First Quantum’s other key mines and will benefit from new electrical loading and drilling equipment along with the extension of the current electric trolley assist infrastructure, First Quantum said.

In parallel with the expansion of the mine and processing facilities, the company plans to increase the throughput capacity of the Kansanshi smelter from 1.38 Mt/y to 1.65 Mt/y of concentrate. This will enable the smelter to produce over 400,000 t/y of copper anode.

The total capital expenditures associated with the S3 Expansion is expected to be $1.25 billion, which includes $900 million on the S3 plant and mine fleet and $350 million for pre-stripping of the South East Dome pit. Approximately $800 million of this spending is included in the company’s current three-year guidance released on January 17, 2022, with the balance falling beyond the guidance period. First production from the S3 Expansion is expected in 2025.

The Enterprise nickel sulphide deposit is located 12 km northwest of the Sentinel copper mine. As outlined in the NI 43-101 Technical Report, filed in March 2020, proven and probable reserves at Enterprise total 34.7 Mt of ore at 0.99% Ni.

The Enterprise nickel project will consist of a single, main open pit and one extension to the southwest. It will use the existing 4 Mt/y nickel circuit that was previously built as part of the original Sentinel processing complex. The main workstream to bring the project online will be the pre-strip of waste. The development timeline for Enterprise is expected to be approximately 12 months. At full production, Enterprise is expected to produce an average of 30,000 t/y of nickel in high-grade concentrate.

The total capital expenditures associated with the Enterprise nickel project is expected to be approximately $100 million. Pre-stripping of the Enterprise pit of $60 million is included in the three-year guidance provided earlier this year along with $40 million related to infrastructure and plant commissioning. Expected first nickel production of 5,000-10,000 t of nickel in 2023 is included in the company’s three-year guidance.

Murray & Roberts’ da Costa heralds positive impact of TNT, Insig on mining platform

The global mining platform of Murray & Roberts has significantly extended its capabilities over the past several years with two key acquisitions in the US and Australia, Mike da Costa, CEO of the platform, says.

The two companies in which majority interests have been acquired are San Diego, USA-based Terra Nova Technologies, a materials handling specialist, and Australia-based start-up Insig Technologies, which develops and provides digital solutions in the mining field.

Terra Nova designs, supplies and commissions overland conveyors, crushing/conveying systems, mobile stacking systems and in-pit crushing and conveying systems. It has delivered around 75 projects in more than 15 countries, according to Murray & Roberts.

“Terra Nova is a perfect fit for M&R’s mining platform and gives us the capability of delivering, for example, conveying systems of up to 12 000 t/h capacity,” da Costa says. “Its biggest market is North America but it is also active in South America and has an office in Santiago, in Chile. It has, in fact, just won a major contract in Chile.

Our intention is to grow the business by leveraging our global footprint. We will soon establish an Australian arm and we could also bring the company’s services to the African market.”

Commenting on the Insig Technologies acquisition, da Costa says the company is playing a key role in the mining platform’s move towards greater digitalisation of its operations.

“We’ve been working on a digital strategy for the mining platform for some time now and the acquisition of Insig is central to our digital journey,” he says. “Insig’s speciality is extracting data from underground mining environments in real time and then using this data to optimise operations. The company also has in-depth capability in the remote control of machines. We will be using its systems in house initially but will eventually market them to the wider mining industry.”

Interestingly, Insig is playing a key role in developing an energy-saving solution at an Australian mine where our Australian company is working. “Basically, we’re looking at capturing the energy that would normally be wasted in a hoisting shaft and storing it in batteries,” da Costa explains.

Insig Chief Technology Officer, Giacomo Alampi; Toran Filippi – Manager Operations Technology; Peter Ellery, Growth Executive; and Brett Hartmann – Manager Digital & Technology at Murray & Roberts, went into detail about this project in a discussion with IM earlier this year.

The Murray & Roberts mining platform consists of three regional businesses. These are Murray & Roberts Cementation, headquartered in Johannesburg but with branches in Kitwe in Zambia and Accra in Ghana; Cementation Americas (which incorporates Cementation USA), based in Salt Lake City, which handles the Americas; and RUC Cementation, which operates out of Perth in Australia and works throughout Australasia and South-east Asia.

First Quantum to operate world’s largest ultra-class truck trolley fleet with Liebherr T 284

The day after announcing it will accelerate the implementation of its existing low carbon solutions and trigger future projects at MINExpo 2021, Liebherr has confirmed that it will supply a further 11 T 284 trucks to operate on trolley lines at First Quantum Minerals Limited (FQML)’s Sentinel and Cobre Panama mines with the miner claiming, in the process, the title of the world’s largest ultra-class truck fleet on trolley.

In 2013, Liebherr received an initial request from FQML to develop a 360 t trolley-capable haul truck for mine sites in Panama and Zambia. The trucks were required to integrate with the trolley power line that FQML had designed and developed for the sites.

Agreeing to this partnership, Liebherr engineers began developing, testing and verifying the trolley solution. Two Liebherr T 284 trucks with the Trolley Assist System were commissioned at Sentinel copper mine in Zambia in 2016 and testing of the trolley solution began in February of 2017, with 12 months allotted for the customer to evaluate the trucks, the trolley and the customer service.

At the end of the trial period, FQML expressed it was pleased with the results of the Trolley Assist System and the performance of the T 284, leading to an order for six more trolley-capable T 284 trucks at Sentinel mine, along with 30-trolley-capable T 284 trucks for Cobre Panama copper mine in Panama, Liebherr says.

As a mark of success of the partnership between FQML and Liebherr, along with the performance of the T 284 with trolley solution, FQML recently confirmed an order for a further 11 T 284 trucks. These three trucks for Sentinel mine and eight trucks for Cobre Panama mine will join the existing fleets operating with the Trolley Assist System. This soon-to-be fleet of 38 T 284s in Panama will claim the title of the world’s largest ultra-class truck fleet on trolley, according to Liebherr.

“Trolley Assist truck systems have become integral to the development of First Quantum’s large scale open-pit truck haulage operations,” an FQML representative says. “Over the last decade, First Quantum has emerged as one of the industry leaders in implementation of Trolley Assist systems across mine planning and design, installation, operations, and maintenance. We consider our purpose designed Trolley Assist systems deliver a step change in measurable haulage performance through increased truck productivity, improved maintenance cost, and reduced carbon emissions.

“During the past five years, Liebherr has proven itself as a proactive partner in the development of Trolley Assist capable truck fleet systems. First Quantum has selected the Liebherr T 284 ultra-class truck for some of our Trolley Assist deployments at our large-scale mining operations in Zambia and, more recently, as the sole deployed truck at our Panama mining operations. With a high degree of co-operation between our organisations, we see this partnership continuing to grow in years to come.”

Oliver Hoelzer, Director of Mining Liebherr-Panamá, says: “Even before the arrival of the very first truck, Liebherr Panama’s relationship with FQML Panama has been more of a mutual partnership than a pure business relationship. Our highly committed team recognises that Liebherr’s own success is intrinsically linked to the success of FQML.”

Liebherr has also delivered six trolley-capable 100 t T 236 haul trucks to the Erzberg iron ore mine in Austria, bringing the total number of Liebherr trucks with the Trolley Assist System to 56 once FQML’s newest fleet has been commissioned.

Liebherr aims to offer fossil fuel free solutions for its entire digging, dozing, and hauling product range by 2030.

NextOre’s magnetic resonance tech up and running at First Quantum’s Kansanshi

Australia-based NextOre is onto another ore sorting assignment with its magnetic resonance (MR) sensing technology, this time in Zambia at First Quantum Minerals’ Kansanshi copper mine.

NextOre was originally formed in 2017 as a joint venture between CSIRO, RFC Ambrian and Worley, with its MR technology representing a leap forward in mineral sensing that provides accurate, whole-of-sample grade measurements, it says.

Demonstrated at mining rates of 4,300 t/h, per conveyor belt, the technology comes with no material preparation requirement and provides grade estimates in seconds, NextOre claims. This helps deliver run of mine grade readings in seconds, providing “complete transparency” for tracking downstream processing and allowing operations to selectively reject waste material.

Having initially successfully tested its magnetic resonance analysers (MRAs) at Newcrest’s Cadia East mine in New South Wales, Australia, the company has gone onto test and trial the innovation across the Americas and Asia.

More recently, it set up camp in Africa at First Quantum Minerals’ Kansanshi copper mine where it is hoping to show off the benefits of the technology in a trial.

The MRA in question was installed in January on the sulphide circuit’s 2,800 t/h primary crushed conveyor at Kansanshi, with the installation carried out with remote assistance due to COVID-19 restrictions on site.

Anthony Mukutuma, General Manager at First Quantum’s Kansanshi Mine in the Northwestern Province of Zambia, said the operation was exploring the use of MRAs for online ore grade analysis and subsequent possible sorting to mitigate the impacts of mining a complex vein-type orebody with highly variating grades.

“The installation on the 2,800 t/h conveyor is a trial to test the efficacy of the technology and consider engineering options for physical sorting of ore prior to milling,” he told IM.

Chris Beal, NextOre CEO, echoed Mukutuma’s words on grade variation, saying daily average grades at Kansanshi were on par with what the company might see in a bulk underground mine, but when NextOre looked at each individual measurement – with each four seconds representing about 2.5 t – it was seeing some “higher grades worthy of further investigation”.

“The local geology gives it excellent characteristics for the application of very fast measurements for bulk ore sorting,” he told IM.

Mukutuma said the initial aim of the trial – to validate the accuracy and precision of the MRA scanner – was progressing to plan.

“The next phase of the project is to determine options for the MRA scanner to add value to the overall front end of processing,” he said.

Beal was keen to point out that the MRA scanner setup at Kansanshi was not that much different to the others NextOre had operating – with the analyser still measuring copper in the chalcopyrite mineral phase – but the remote installation process was very different.

“Despite being carried out remotely, this installation went smoother than even some where we had a significant on-site presence,” he said. “A great deal of that smoothness can be attributed to the high competency of the Kansanshi team. Of course, our own team, including the sensing and sorting team at CSIRO, put in a huge effort to quickly pivot from the standard installation process, and also deserve a great deal of credit.”

Beal said the Kansanshi team were supplied with all the conventional technical details one would expect – mechanical drawings, assembly drawings, comprehensive commissioning instructions and animations showing assembly.

To complement that, the NextOre team made use of both the in-built remote diagnostic systems standard in each MRA and several remote scientific instruments, plus a Trimble XR10 HoloLens “mixed-reality solution” that, according to Trimble, helps workers visualise 3D data on project sites.

“The NextOre and CSIRO teams were on-line on video calls with the Kansanshi teams each day supervising the installation, monitoring the outputs of the analyser and providing supervision in real time,” Beal said. He said the Kansanshi team had the unit installed comfortably within the planned 12-hour shutdown window.

By the second week of February the analyser had more than 90% availability, Beal said in early April.

He concluded on the Kansanshi installation: “There is no question that we will use the remote systems developed during this project in each project going ahead, but, when it is at all possible, we will always have NextOre representatives on site during the installation process. This installation went very smoothly but we cannot always count on that being the case. And there are other benefits to having someone on site that you just cannot get without being there.

“That said, in the future, we expect that a relatively higher proportion of support and supervision can be done through these remote systems. More than anything, this will allow us to more quickly respond to events on site and to keep the equipment working reliably.”

E and I Zambia helps power up process plant for copper miner

Electrical control and instrumentation specialist, E and I Zambia, says it has successfully completed a large project on a new process plant for one of Zambia’s leading copper miners.

The contract included the installation of six electrical substations, 20 transformers, five 1,250 kVA diesel generators for back-up power and a 950 m overland conveyor. Almost 250 km of cable was pulled and nearly 15 km of cable racking was constructed, according to the company.

Also completed were six earth mat rings, 12 mast lights and a range of general plant earthing and lighting installations around the plant, as well as the fitting and termination of instruments. E and I Zambia conducted the work between January 2019 and April 2020, in close collaboration with both a leading design house and the end-client, the company said.

According to Projects Manager, Dave Opperman, the company has a sound track record in the country, having been active on the copperbelt and beyond since 2002.

“The experience of our team on site, the quality of our artisans and the training of workers ensured that the quality of this job was world class,” Opperman says. “While prioritising safety and quality, we were still able to adapt to the inevitable fine-tuning of project parameters and schedules, and to deliver on the client’s timelines.”

The safety standards were reflected in the achievement of 395 Lost-Time Injury Free days. This was achieved despite a busy site – peak manpower grew to over 270 employees and subcontractors – in a project that consumed almost 590,000 manhours. Almost all the staffing on the project was local, the company said.

“Being so well established in Zambia, we have a solid database of skilled artisans that we can draw upon for large projects like this one,” Opperman says. “The country has a good foundation of these trades, and we can select the most suitable profile of skills to match the project.”

He noted that the company is also able to optimise its local procurement through its network of reliable suppliers, while maintaining a strong cross-border supply chain for large and specialised equipment and components from South Africa.

In line with quality standards, each phase of the project involved the sign-off of both in-house and external quality control officers. This ensured all work was carried out in accordance with engineering designs and industry standard specifications before being certified ready for use.

E and I Zambia is also able to draw on the extensive technical capacity of South Africa-based EnI Electrical, an operating entity within Zest WEG.

BME keeps supply up amid lockdown as it prepares for COVID-19-related business changes

COVID-19 lockdown restrictions around Southern Africa have thrown the spotlight on mines’ supply security, with key inputs like explosives and blasting services among these.

According to Albie Visser, General Manager at blasting specialist BME, mines have relied heavily on the flexibility and ingenuity of service providers to keep the supply chain functioning.

“The first weeks of the lockdown were challenging, especially regarding the logistics of moving our emulsion product across national borders from South Africa into other southern African countries,” Visser said. “Different countries – and even different border posts – applied different rules, making it difficult to know what the exact compliance requirements were.”

Albie Visser, General Manager at BME

He noted the pandemic had caught most authorities unaware, leading to regulations being hurriedly developed and enforced.

“In some cases, the regulatory requirements were not practical,” he said. “At one border, for instance, drivers were required to have a COVID-19 test not older than three days – but in South Africa it took nine days to get results from a test through normal channels.”

This meant that innovative thinking was called for, and BME worked closely with its own suppliers and the mines themselves. While some deliveries were initially delayed by border issues, the company’s responsiveness and agility kept up its deliveries to site, it said.

National lockdowns in the region affected the mining sectors differently from country to country.

“South Africa’s lockdown saw demand for emulsion drop sharply at first, but this has almost returned to normal as mines ramped up to full production where possible,” he said. “While mining in Botswana has slowed, Namibia’s mining industry has been more resilient and our supplies to Zambia are almost unaffected.”

Site precautions

In South Africa, BME is working on many mine sites, with an average of three teams per site. By conducting risk assessments and adapting its existing safety systems, BME quickly developed its own COVID-19 protocols in line with national safety regulations – even before some of the mines finalised their own systems.

Among the measures BME has applied is to divide staff into small groups to keep closer control of movements and restrict infections. For example, each group will stay together for transport purposes, and will use only one specified bus.

“Each bus, which has a thermometer for daily testing, will collect staff from their homes,” Visser said. “We know exactly who they live with, for purposes of future contact tracing.”

It does mean more buses arriving at the work site, but any infection picked up can then be controlled and traced within that group. There is also another screening test at the mine site when staff arrive, and the necessary social distancing is observed.

“To date our measures have been very effective, with no COVID-19 infections at any of our operations,” he said.

Overcoming barriers

Outside of South Africa, there have been some notable achievements in the face of COVID-19 related lockdowns.

Joe Keenan, Managing Director of BME, relayed a few of these.

Joe Keenan, Managing Director of BME

“Among the logistical achievements, for instance, was the timeous shipping of resources to customers in Australia and West Africa – which was done in anticipation of the lockdown,” he said.

BME was also able to continue satisfying the requirements of one of Zambia’s largest copper producers, despite the difficulties of negotiating border regulations.

At the same time as this, the company is continuing to roll out large projects for major customers, while keeping most of its staff working remotely. This includes the recruitment of about 170 people for one key project, and the continuation of on-site testing.

Automation, remote optionality

From the manufacturing perspective, BME’s facilities are also well positioned to keep feeding the supply chain even under lockdown conditions, according to Ralf Hennecke, BME’s General Manager: Technology and Marketing.

“Most of our production plant processes are highly automated, so we can readily apply the necessary social distancing and minimise staff without affecting production,” Hennecke said. “This applies to our explosives facilities as well as our factories for non-electric and electronic detonators.”

Ralf Hennecke BME General Manager: Technology and Marketing

BME has put in considerable investment in the automation of its manufacturing plant at Delmas in Mpumalanga, South Africa, for instance. While the driver for this process was primarily the quality of its emulsion product, the effect has been to enhance security of supply while applying strict social distancing protocols, it said.

Keenan said: “At our facility in Losberg, Gauteng, where we manufacture our AXXIS™ equipment and non-electric detonation systems, there is also a high level of automation. We can therefore accommodate the COVID-19 regulations without affecting the value chain.”

Even the company’s remote bulk emulsion plants – often located on customer’s mine sites – can be operated with minimal staff.

Hennecke highlighted that BME’s technology, including planning and reporting platforms like BLASTMAP™ and XPLOLOG™, also assist mines to reduce opportunities for COVID-19 transmission.

“Our technological innovations allow data to be digitally captured, stored and transferred to the mine’s operational and administrative systems,” he said. “This can be done safely with only a few human touchpoints, and also in real time for greater efficiency.”

The future

While the current efforts are to keep mining operations running normally, the future will see considerable changes in how suppliers like BME support customers, according to Keenan.

“The leveraging of technological innovation to keep mine sites safe and efficient becomes an even more vital imperative for technology providers,” he said.

Operationally, there will be ongoing focus on social distancing and digital processes to reduce proximity between employees.

With strict requirements limiting face to face interaction, more communication with customers will also have to be conducted digitally.

These communication systems will also have to be adapted to streamline the sales process and keep contracts flowing, according to BME.

“Creative solutions will need to be found for how to manage tenders, for example, especially where site visits are required,” Kennan said. “There are still various practical issues to be resolved so that normal procurement can continue.”

In terms of further expediting the shift to non-contact interaction with customers, BME’s new enterprise resource planning system enhances its shared services capacity, allowing less paperwork and more electronic documentation and processing.

Enl Electrical focused on timely project deliveries in Africa

Enl Electrical, an electrical control and instrumentation specialist (EC&I) contractor, says its work on a large copper mine expansion project, in Zambia, is just one of many contracts it is delivering timely solutions for.

A member of the Zest WEG Group, Enl Electrical works extensively with project houses and directly for mining companies, and is a preferred supplier to many of them, according to the company.

Russell Drake, General Manager Operations at EnI Electrical, said: “Large project implementation is complex, and is often made more challenging by the logistical constraints that many African projects face. There are invariably delays at various stages, which places more pressure on the EC&I contractor, who must in many ways ‘complete’ the roll-out.”

Calvin Fisher, EnI Electrical Overhead Lines Manager, emphasises the importance of on-time completion, combined with reliable electricity supply: “With the various issues that may delay stages of a project, there is usually growing urgency as the deadline date approaches. This is normally when EnI Electrical enters the project, so we are accustomed to working under some extra pressure. Our dynamic team actively looks for ways to advance the work, especially when the previous phases may not be quite ready for us to begin.”

The linking up of electrical infrastructure, connections and equipment is one of the final stages to allow any project to start operating. In this role, EnI Electrical installs a wide range of electrical infrastructure including medium and low voltage cable reticulation, motor control centres, lighting, earthing protection and energy management systems.

Its control and instrumentation work ranges from process instrumentation and plant automation, to custom control stations and fibre or copper networks, it says. The company also designs and installs overhead power lines (up to 161 kV) and substations.

Drake said: “Our permanent bases in countries like Zambia and Ghana – with significant in-country investment in technical assets – underpins the efficiency of our work. We understand our working environment very well, so we can quote accurately and fairly. This is vital to reduce variations during projects, as this can be disruptive to the project and the client.”

ERP system ups inventor accuracy at Weir Minerals Africa’s Kitwe facility

Weir Minerals Africa’s newly upgraded Kitwe facility in Zambia, its hub for central and east Africa, is benefiting from the use of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that has seen inventory accuracy rates rise, according to the company’s Luhann Holtzhausen.

The branch officially opened in early 2018 and boasts a state-of-the-art logistics and supply chain management systems to match those at Weir Minerals Africa’s main distribution hub in Alrode, near Johannesburg, it said.

Luhann Holtzhausen, Weir Minerals Africa Supply Chain Director, said: “Our Kitwe branch now has a 100% location-controlled warehouse that runs off our ERP system with Wi-Fi-enabled scanners in place. This has resulted in the achievement of inventory accuracy rates in the high 90s.

Holtzhausen continued: “The technology and technical capacity in this facility enables us to pick and bin items in real time. This will match any other system that customers may have seen globally and is also a benchmark within Zambia.”

The new warehouse is all under one roof, with high visibility through natural and artificial lighting, where every product is clearly labelled with bin location and barcodes for easy tracking, Weir said. Shelving of up to three metres high keeps all items neatly stacked, easy to identify and quick to retrieve.

“The right goods in the right quantity in the right place means that when a customer asks for an item, we know that we have it and can find it without delays,” Holtzhausen said.

As part of the company’s operation-wide system, the stockholding of the Kitwe warehouse can be viewed in real time by the supply chain management team in Johannesburg. Holtzhausen emphasised the importance of the ERP system’s ability to track trends in customer usage in a systematic and methodical manner, to avoid any stock-outs on mine sites.

Lack of timeous access to spare parts and equipment can be costly in terms of operational downtime, particularly at remote mines that take time to reach, Weir said.

“In addition to the high accuracy of our data on warehouse inventory, our systems also give us end-to-end velocity measurement to monitor the flow of goods from receipt at our warehouses to the actual time of delivery at the customer’s location,” Holtzhausen said.

Weir Minerals Africa has 75 stocking locations across the southern and central African region, and ships nearly 100,000 items each year from its main distribution hub in Alrode.

RCT wins automation retrofit work at Lubambe copper mine in Zambia

Autonomous solutions provider RCT says it has entered into a project to provide autonomous technology to the Lubambe underground copper mine in Zambia.

The deal involves RCT commissioning its ControlMaster® Guidance Automation on three Epiroc ST18 and two Sandvik LH517 LHDs at the mine. These machines will be managed via five automation stations located in tele-cabins.

RCT’s Guidance let’s operators remotely control the machine from a comfortable air-conditioned cabin, according to the company. The system automatically steers the machine to avoid collisions, enabling higher speeds, eliminating damage and improving productivity.

The technology will be installed in June with operator training to occur simultaneously, RCT said.

Lubambe is 80% owned by EMR Capital Resources, with 20% held by ZCCM Investments Holdings. In the nine months to March 31, 2018, the mine produced 14,891 t of contained copper.