Tag Archives: Weir Minerals Africa

TOTAL COMMINUTION TO TAILINGS SOLUTION FROM WEIR MINERALS

Adding a partnership with technology group Andritz to its range of Trio® crushing equipment, Enduron® screens and other established brands, Weir Minerals Africa is further entrenching its position as a total solution provider to process plants.

General Manager Comminution at Weir Minerals Africa, Vernon Steenbok, says: “Our offerings to mines now span all processes from the run-of-mine tip to the tailings dams including equipment such as crushers, conveyers, screens, feeders, pumps, cyclones, linings, hoses and valves.”

Steenbok emphasises that the company has been expanding into the comminution space as a vital part of its total integrated solution provided to customers across Africa and the Middle East, from the gold mines of West and East Africa to the copper mines of Central Africa. Infrastructure development in the Middle East has also been important driver of the aggregate business, with resultant demand for Weir Minerals’ crushers and screens.

As regulations governing the management of mine tailings become more onerous, the solutions available from Weir Minerals now includes a range of mechanical separation technologies such as thickeners, filter presses, centrifuges and vacuum belt filters.

“To ensure the effective application of our growing equipment range, we place experienced process engineers at the centre of our relationship with customers,” says Steenbok. “This is key to helping customers drive down their cost of ownership while raising efficiency, productivity and profitability.”

This involves building local capacity by actively developing mineral processing and other related skills in-country, nurturing young engineers in Weir Minerals Africa’s service-centred performance culture.

“Our team of process engineers brings years of experience from the mining sector, and through training and mentoring prepare the next generation of engineers for their role in supporting and building a sustainable mining sector,” he says.

Weir Minerals Africa’s talent pipeline includes 89 black learners – one third of them women – and this programme is set to grow to 115 learners participating in 2018. They are trained and prepared through a range of initiatives from bursary students and graduates to internships and apprenticeships.

“We are here for the long haul,” says Steenbok, “and our investment in developing and acquiring leading brands, alongside our commitment to world class expertise, shows our commitment to the future of our customers and the mining industry as a whole.”

TRIO CRUSHERS AND SCREENS ON A ROLL

In the three short years since Weir Minerals Africa acquired the Trio® range of crushing and screening equipment, a strong network of skills and aftermarket services has been built across Africa to support this quality brand.

According to Weir Minerals Africa Process Director JD Singleton, the support services are now in place in the organisation’s 18 service centres across the continent, as well as a Trio specific stockholding worth almost R100 million.

“This investment in the region is testament to Weir Mineral’s commitment to the Trio brand, and to our customers in operations large and small,” says Singleton. “Perhaps the most exciting aspect of our Trio journey to date is the strong local skills base we have developed, with the expertise in our comminution team amounting to 100 years of experience in the sector combined.”

The team has been recently boosted by the appointment of chemical engineer and process expert Vernon Steenkop as General Manager Comminution – a role previously performed by Singleton. Steenkop brings a wealth of experience in the mining sector, with 27 years of hands-on process experience across a range of commodities. Most recently, he has been managing the company’s flagship Middelburg branch.

“Our focus is to provide the customer with a total solution,” says Steenkop, “which we can do by combining our flexibility with our full suite of minerals process equipment. This means that our success can be measured by what the customer’s business achieves through better efficiencies, less downtime and higher output.”

The network includes specialised teams to deal with sales, applications, aftermarket and spares to ensure a seamless integration of expert input across the life cycle of projects and quick availability of spare parts and servicing.

“This has transformed the Trio offering into a truly local enterprise,” says Singleton. “Machines are brought in from our global manufacturing facilities, but we design our flow-sheets and solutions locally, and construct the steelwork and ancillary structures locally too.”

Weir Minerals Africa invests heavily in local skills development, training its own engineers so that customers can be assured of the best support and advice available. High-potential school leavers are selected for a bursary programme, and put through a graduate programme or learnership within the company. Further contributions to the sector include Weir Mineral’s active membership and support of industry bodies such as the Institute of Quarrying of Southern Africa.

The Trio® crusher range – which offers capacities of between 50 tph and 1500 tph – includes jaw crushers, cone crushers, grizzly and belt feeders, vertical shaft impact crushers, horizontal shaft impact crushers, conveyor sections and hoppers.

WEIR BOOSTS CAPACITY AND FOOTPRINT IN AFRICA, MIDDLE EAST

Process solutions is now the focus of Weir Minerals Africa, as it works to bring its growing range of services and products closer to customers in Africa and the Middle East.

According to Gavin Dyer, Regional Managing Director of Weir Minerals Africa, the company is investing continuously in both physical and human resources – building its footprint of branches and service centres across the continent, while drawing in process engineering skills to bolster its capacity to optimise plants.

His new leadership team of experienced experts are driving the company’s sales and service focus, to bring a wider range of offerings closer to the market and ensure that the business is solidly customer-focused. With Marketing Director Rajen Govender driving the strategic marketing effort and handling the relationships with key customers, William Cumming focuses on the ‘home ground’ and most neighbouring countries, as Sales Director for South Africa and SADC.

Sub-Saharan Africa from Zambia upwards – and also the Middle East – is the jurisdiction of Pieter Jordaan, Sales Director for the rest of Africa. The company’s process department is headed by JD Singleton; as Process Director, he manages the over-arching process engineering offering that will add value at service centre, branch and mine site level across the geographic footprint.

“The work of this team will raise the profile of the wider product range and ensure that customers are achieving the best possible returns from this technology,” says Dyer. “There are still areas where Weir is known largely as an original equipment supplier in the field of slurry pumps. Our new structure and capacity will help alert customers to the many opportunities available from Weir Minerals Africa to improve plant efficiencies and performance.”

Singleton highlights the process division’s growing capacity to provide a complete process solution. Weir Minerals Africa’s services and products span a range of mine processes from the run-of-mine tip to the tailings dams, including equipment such as crushers, pumps, cyclones, linings, hoses, conveyors and valves. This positions Weir Minerals Africa increasingly as a total solutions partner rather than a mechanical engineering company focused on pumps.

“We have engaged more process engineers in our team, and with these skills can optimise mine operations from pit dewatering and jaw crushing, right through to screening, process functions within the mill, and even tailings disposal,” he says.

Another key aspect of the current strategy is to build on Weir Minerals Africa’s extensive footprint in Africa and the Middle East, allowing better responsiveness to customers’ needs.

“Our growing branch and service centre network provides the necessary springboard for the process engineers to get access to customer sites quicker and more often,” says Jordaan.

The strategic placement of more engineers now gives customers the opportunity to have site evaluations and plant audits more readily, says Cumming. By providing services like condition monitoring and better inventory strategies, unplanned breakdowns can be avoided and downtime reduced.

In a significant step into the world of e-commerce, Weir Minerals Africa customers have for the past year had easier access to its large range of spare parts, thanks to the online Weir Africa Store. By registering on the store at https://weirafricastore.com, customers can browse, search and order from the stock of Warman®, Cavex®, Linatex® and Trio® product spares. The purchase process is simple and parts can be collected or delivered within 48 hours; payment can be made easily by electronic funds transfer or even by credit card.

CAVEX® HYDROCYCLONES BOOST RECOVERIES AT THARISA

Tharisa Minerals’ platinum mining operation on the south-western limb of South Africa’s Bushveld igneous complex has boosted its mill circuit production performance by 36% by replacing its original cyclones with Cavex® hydrocyclones from Weir Minerals Africa.

Changing to the Cavex® hydrocyclones allowed the mine to recover an additional 98 ounces of platinum group metals (PGMs) each month, giving an additional annual revenue of some US$800,000 – almost R11 million. With this improved performance, Tharisa’s payback period for the cluster of new units was just 29 days.

The Tharisa mine, in production since 2009, produces metallurgical grade PGM concentrate and chemical grade chrome concentrate from a shallow open pit operation. It had been using conventional 510 mm flat-bottom cyclones fitted onto their secondary mill circuit cluster. However, according to the mine, these cyclones were cutting too coarse, were inefficient and were experiencing a low mass split to underflow.

The mine’s objective was to allow the secondary mill circuit to improve mass pull to the underflow and produce a much finer cyclone overflow material reporting to downstream flotation and spiral circuit. By providing a finer feed material to flotation and the spiral circuits, PGM and chrome recovery increases significantly. Using the data supplied by the customer, Weir Minerals generated a mass balance simulation, highlighting the performance capability of its Cavex® 500CVX hydrocyclones. These units have a 360 degree laminar spiral inlet that reduces turbulence within the hydrocyclone, improving performance and classification.

In an initial trial, Tharisa mine installed a single Cavex® 500CVX hydrocyclone on site, retrofitting the unit onto the existing competitor cyclone cluster. It then conducted a sample analysis, comparing the performance of the Cavex® hydrocyclone to that of the competitor cyclone. The data from this trial confirmed that the Cavex® unit outperformed the incumbent competitor’s cyclone.

Once the results of the first trial were made available, the competitor was offered another trial opportunity to make adjustments that would improve its equipment’s performance. To do this, it modified one of its on-site cyclones by installing an angled conventional cone section onto the flat-bottom cyclone, intending to sharpen the cut point and improve efficiency.

In a second sampling campaign undertaken by the mine, the performance of the Cavex® 500CVX hydrocyclone was compared with both the competitor’s original cyclones and its newly modified cyclones. The Cavex® unit again outperformed both competitor cyclone models, showing a significantly reduced level of +75 micron material reporting to the overflow. This result highlighted the benefits of the 360 degree laminar spiral inlet.

As a result of the tests, Tharisa Minerals decided to remove the installed competitor cyclones on its secondary mill 13 way cluster and replace these with Cavex® hydrocyclones. This has contributed to the mine’s vision of being a low cost producer with significant resources on the Bushveld complex, which is host to over half the world’s platinum, chrome, vanadium and refractory minerals.

Sheldon Gabriel, product manager for hydrocyclones at Weir Minerals Africa

FLEXIBILITY IN MAINTENANCE PACKAGE SHOULD BE INFINITE – WEIR

To allow each mining customer to choose the most effective maintenance strategy for its particular conditions, Weir Minerals is offering ‘infinite flexibility’ in its range of solutions to keep its equipment operating at the lowest cost per ton over its full life cycle.

According to Kobus Fourie, Global Services Manager for Weir Minerals, there is a refocus in the world of maintenance, as the mining industry gains a better understanding of the value of total asset management carried out by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM).

“The involvement of the OEM in ongoing plant maintenance can really make a difference to reliability while reducing maintenance costs in the long term,” says Fourie. “So, to ensure that every customer can take advantage of these benefits, Weir Minerals is extremely flexible in how we structure our support to suit any environment.”

These maintenance arrangements include a cost-per-ton model, which allows mines to budget a set premium for a pre-determined production rate. Another option is the repair-and-exchange model, where the OEM keeps key stock related to the specific customer’s requirements, so it can supply what would normally be long lead time items in just a few hours.

He highlights that the OEM supplier is in the best position to understand and support their products optimally, and this is recognised by most mining companies, who will closely link their own maintenance programmes to the aftermarket services that the OEM can provide.

“Through our service capacity, OEM’s are playing an increasingly important role in mining,” he says. “We can do this because our knowledge base – earned through extensive and ongoing investment in research and development – is well established.”

The OEM’s focus is on the capabilities and life cycle of their products, and the customer can use this focus to their advantage.

“The benefits of having an OEM maintain their own equipment far outweighs the costs, especially if you take into account the indirect cost of downtime due to the more frequent breakdowns often resulting from the use of a non-OEM part, for example,” he says.

He also emphasises the safety aspect of good maintenance strategies, reiterating the importance – for both the OEM and the customer – of a safe working environment in the plant.

“If you start to alter a product with non-OEM replacement parts, it can not only put the reliability and integrity of the equipment at risk, but also the safety of the people that work around the equipment,” he says.

Fourie acknowledges that applying a long term approach to maintenance is not always easy in the mining sector, as volatility in commodity prices creates uncertainty around the life-of-mine expectations at many operations.

“A more stable outlook allows mines to make better decisions about investing in the longevity of their critical-path plant and equipment,” he says. “Nonetheless, the key differentiator among mining competitors is a systematic approach to maintenance that can be applied irrespective of the prevailing economic climate.”

Weir Minerals pushes the envelope with maintenance options, to place the focus on total solutions. This, in his opinion, is what the mining industry needs; mines should be allowed to focus on their core business, which is to process minerals, while OEMs should support that objective by maintaining and operating their equipment to ensure lowest cost production.

“We have also joined forces with industry leading innovators Dell and Microsoft to develop cutting edge condition monitoring as part of our maintenance offering, so that we can take preventative maintenance to the next level,” says Fourie. “In time, we will be able to predict equipment failure, and apply interventions before such failure occurs; this will provide further savings to customers by avoiding lost production due to unscheduled downtime.”

The repair and exchange model offers customers key stock availability in just a few hours.