De Beers Group is proving that the best mechanism to drive a safe mining business is for management to lead by example, and this starts with the company’s senior leadership team, including CEO Bruce Cleaver. They have together established a CEO Safety Summit initiative, which now in its third year is committed to achieving zero harm throughout the company’s global operations globally.

The CEO Safety Summit, which takes place every year in January and August, brings together a wide range of personnel from De Beers Group’s executive committee as well as general managers, safety and sustainable development leads and safety line managers. Over the course of a week they collaborate and discuss the requirements needed to establish a safety framework that guides the company’s day-to-day operations and will ensure zero harm for every employee.

The company’s recently appointed principal safety lead Willemien Potgieter attended the recent summit held in August and believes it has positioned De Beers as a leader in driving safety within the mining sector.

Potgieter is a qualified electrical engineer, project manager and engineering safety manager and has worked for the metal, pulp and paper, chrome, petroleum and mining sectors, applying her knowledge of engineering into safety leadership roles. From an early age she committed her career to helping heavy industries such as mining work towards achieving zero harm and believes it is possible. In her position she is driving safety across De Beers Group’s global operations in Canada, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.

De Beers Group’s August 2019 CEO Safety Summit focused closely on six focus areas – leadership and culture, critical control management/fatal risk prevention, capacity building, learning and sharing and contractor management.

These areas will be built into a framework, each with their own priorities and outputs. “Importantly, all of the initiatives and actions we outline must be measureable and put into systems to create sustainable methodologies that support the framework,” says Potgieter.

Following the growing success from what now totals five summits since it was initiated in 2017, Potgieter will facilitate co-design sessions necessary to establish roadmaps for each operation as part of the process towards finalising a safety framework. This will reduce resistance to change, ensure a clear alignment on deliverables and help build relationships and encourage knowledge sharing she notes.

“50% of the co-designed session work streams will be completed by January with the intention to have all the co-designed sessions completed by the second summit held in August.”

While the steps taken in building a safe business is a work in progress Potgieter notes that the implementation of actions and initiatives are always taking place in parallel to the CEO Safety Summits.

“Improving safety is an ongoing process and an area that receives priority and attention every day,” she concludes.


Africa has embraced the innovation that drives WEG products and services, with customers seeing value in constant technological improvement.

Siegfried Kreutzfeld, CEO of the South African based Zest WEG Group, explains that WEG is quick to introduce its new products into the African market, sometimes even before launching elsewhere in the world.

“We pride ourselves on the significant investment we, as WEG, make in research and development,” Kreutzfeld says. “About 2,6% of our net revenue is ploughed back into continuous product improvement as well as new development. This keeps us at the cutting edge of technology.”

The result of this intense commitment to innovation is that 43,7% of all WEG products sold in 2018 were launched in the last five years. Another indicator is that Brazil-based WEG Group holds 174 patents that are used on its products.

Significantly, this has placed WEG among the thousand most innovative companies in the world, ranked by The Global Innovation 1000 of 2014. This world ranking evaluates the total R&D investments of each company, including the strategy, purpose and success of these investments.

“More than 35 years ago, we led the way in South Africa by introducing reliable high performance motors into the mining sector,” he says. “Today, we have a solid market share on the continent based on the trust we have built with our customers. This relationship makes it easier to introduce and test new WEG technologies in Africa.”

While continuously improving its products, WEG also closely monitors how they perform in the field, Kreutzfeld notes. “An indicator of the confidence we have in WEG technology is that we provide a five year warranty on WEG motors,” he says. “This is unique on the continent and difficult for competitors to match.”

WEG’s innovation and the market trust are paying dividends. Despite the country’s poor overall economic performance, Kreutzfeld says Zest WEG Group is targeting 15% growth with its high quality offerings.

Among the latest WEG technologies are energy-efficient IE3 motors which reduce electricity consumption, and the WEG CFW 11 Variable Speed Drive (VSD) which selects the best efficiency, again conserving energy and saving costs.

Kreutzfeld says that during 2019 a new series of WEG VSDs, specifically for mine fan applications, will be introduced to the market.

WEG’s innovative Motor Scan device is another important development, harnessing connectivity and the power of Industry 4.0 technology to monitor motor health. Attached to the motor itself, the WEG Motor Scan gathers vital data including vibration, temperature and running time. This is communicated wirelessly to a hand-held device or to WEG’s Internet of Things (IoT) platform.

“Extending electric motor life is going to be an important trend in the market, especially in the mining sector,” Kreutzfeld explains. “Only a decade ago mines expected less than two years of life from an electric motor, and we have been able to change that. Using Motor Scan will allow end users to optimise routine maintenance and extend motor life.”

Another technological innovation is the large WEG slipring motors considered ideal for the cement industry. Cement plants place high wear demands on electric motors, and WEG has developed features to address this challenge.

“We innovate by being close to our customers and seeing the problems they face,” he says. “You cannot pursue innovation without understanding customer applications and market trends.”

To drive this process, WEG established a Scientific and Technological Committee in 1998. This forum allows WEG’s engineering team to engage with five university specialists, three from abroad and two from Brazil. The forum meets every two years to discuss market trends, technology and innovation, and importantly how to apply this to WEG products.

“During this meeting, we share new concepts and products with the academic experts,” he says. “This collaboration has many mutual benefits. We gain ideas and feedback, and the universities can gather topics for their students to research.”

Inside WEG itself, there is a team focused on new product concepts and technologies. Kreutzfeld says many of these might remain in development for years, even decades, and are only commercialised in response to market trends.

“This pipeline of innovation is vital to meet changing customer needs and is what sets WEG apart,” Kreutzfeld concludes.


KREBS® slurry pumps have become leaders in mill discharge applications in Africa, with the latest Ultimate Mill Discharge (UMD) pump leading the way in these heavy-duty applications.

“West African gold mines and the copper operations of Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo are among the areas where these robust pumps dominate,” says Andre Hall, FLSmidth Regional Product Line Manager — Pumps, Cyclones and Valves. ”Their popularity,” he says, “is based on their long wear life and high efficiency.

“Ghana is a particular success story for our UMD pumps,” Hall adds. “‘Nearly all the gold mines there use our pumps to discharge slurry from their mills.”

The KREBS UMD is popular at these mines largely because it lowers the total cost of ownership due to the millMax™ proprietary design that eliminates inefficient recirculation and grinding of slurry within the pump.

Prior to the millMAX wear ring design, slurry pumps experienced two major problems: mechanical grinding of solids between the suction liner and impeller, and flow recirculating back to the impeller eye on the suction side. Both of these problems decrease pump life and increase power consumption.

The wear ring stops recirculation by closing the suction-side gap, while still allowing for a large clearance between the impeller and the suction liner, eliminating the grinding of solids. Adjusting the wear ring while the pump is running restores performance and provides longer wear life and higher continuous efficiency, in all, lowering the total cost of ownership.

“The UMD’s casing symmetry also means less inventory for customers,” Hall says. “Mines that have pumps rotating in both left-hand and right-hand orientations must stock different casings, liners and impellers, adding to the operational costs.” The advantage of the UMD is that it uses the same casing, suction liner, wear ring and back liner. This reduces overall net working capital.

The KREBS gravelMAX™ pumps continue to do well in Mpumalanga’s coal sector, where 14 of these pumps recently replaced competitor units on a single site. Commonly applied in a cyclone feed application within the dense medium separation (DMS) circuit, the pump’s wider passage allows pumping of larger solids.

“We are also active in iron ore in South Africa with pumps in the DMS circuit,” Hall says. “A Lesotho diamond mine also operates KREBS pumps, which have demonstrated a four-fold increase in wear life compared to a competitor’s previous units.”

As global leaders in sump pumps, FLSmidth dominates with the vMAX™ range, which features a recessed impeller design allowing the pumps to run dry. When the sump has been emptied of slurry, the recessed impeller allows the slurry to return safely down the discharge pipe without contacting the impeller, ensuring that it does not vibrate when dry.

Another recent innovation in the KREBS slurryMAX™ range of pumps is being introduced to the African market after an enthusiastic response in the US and Australia. With multiple liner and impeller material options, the slurryMAX split-case pump can handle the majority of applications for any plant across multiple industries.

FLSmidth KREBS pumps are designed using vast experience in pumping technology, to meet the challenges with throughput, downtime, wear life and overall efficiency. The complete slurry pumping solutions optimise performance, maximise wear life and efficiency, and lower operating costs.


Pit dewatering remains a vital activity for all opencast operations, as ground water not only poses an operational challenge but can also become a safety hazard if not attended to appropriately.
Interestingly, it is not a simple case of one pump fits all dewatering application requirements and it is advisable to deal with a reputable pump supplier to ensure that the most appropriate solution is selected.

Lee Vine, managing director of Integrated Pump Rental, explains that there is no such thing as a standard pit dewatering system as each instance requires a site-specific solution.

“There are numerous options available in terms of the actual pump and ancillary equipment, as well as the choice between rental and outright purchase,” he says. “The differentiator that our team offers is the ability to assess a given application and provide a pit dewatering solution with the correctly sized pump.”

There are several factors that can have an impact on the pump selection, and this includes available power sources, the volume of water to be pumped, the condition of the dirty water including size and type of particles in the water.

“What adds complexity to pit dewatering applications is that, and in many cases, the need to dewater a pit can be urgent and customers are forced into making an incorrect pump selection or tying themselves into a contract that does not work in the longer term,” Vine says.

He says that while the decision to hire or purchase is an important commercial one, so is the actual selection of the pump itself. “If the pump is not sized correctly for the dewatering application at hand, it will not perform as required. This, in turn, leads to further operational challenges including production losses and sometimes even the need to change the pump resulting in further costs.”

One of the most important factors to consider is the available energy source, and if there is no access to power options such as diesel-driven or pumps fitted with hydraulic power packs must be explored.

When selecting the pump, it is also important to understand the specifics of the water ingress conditions and whether this is a long-term issue or simply a short-term challenge. This scenario will dictate the pump size, its rated output and what ancillary equipment is required.

As an example, Vine points to a recent dewatering application on a mine in Lesotho where a constant flow of water into the mine’s pit area demanded that water be urgently and reliably pumped out.

Over time the pit depth had increased, and the groundwater level had been exacerbated by the winter snowfall in the highlands of Lesotho. As a result, the total dynamic head for the duties of the installed dewatering pump installation changes and the mine required an urgent solution.

Initially a Sykes XH150 diesel driven pump was deployed, pumping at 120 litres per second at 150 metre head. Subsequent to this, a second Sykes pump was dispatched to site to ensure that the level of water remained at an acceptable level.

With the two Sykes pumps on site, the mine was assured of sufficient pumping capacity, should the groundwater level increase.

Commenting on the responsiveness exhibited by Integrated Pump Rental in this instance, Vine says this is not unusual at all. “While not a standard across the industry, our teams are known for this, and the primary reason why we can respond rapidly is our comprehensive fleets of pumps that are capable of handling varying dewatering applications.”

He sketches the scenario where the call from the mine came in and with 24 hours, the first Sykes pump was installed on site. “This is very significant, when one considers that the mine is situation some 500 km from the company’s front door and across the border into a neighbouring country.”

“More often than not, and this was indeed the case here, our teams have existing relationships with the customers that have been built up and maintained over time. Our repeat customers know they can rely on us,” he continues.

Integrated Pump Rental not only rents out Sykes diesel driven pump sets, the company is also responsible for the sale of these robust dewatering pumps across southern Africa. The robust units are designed for reliable performance, under even the harshest operating conditions.

Vine concludes by saying that operating in Africa requires a certain mindset and skill set, and most importantly suppliers need to be responsive to customer requests. “Many mines are situated in outlying areas and this calls for a very customer focused approach, particularly when groundwater in a pit becomes an issue.”


Two units of the newly developed WEG 11 kV Variable Speed Drive (VSD) have been commissioned in West Africa by WEG Automation Africa, a member of the Zest WEG Group.

According to Kirk Moss, senior manager: projects and engineering at WEG Automation Africa, the new WEG MVW3000 VSD is a valuable addition to its Medium Voltage (MV) VSD portfolio. The first two 11 kV units produced are for 850 kW ventilation fan motors in an underground gold mine in Ghana.

“In line with WEG’s ongoing innovation, the addition of the WEG MVW3000 system brings a range of benefits to customers,” says Moss. “It gives WEG Automation Africa even greater flexibility in our market offering, further enhancing our capability to provide customised solutions.”

The design is based on the well-known cascaded H-bridge (CHB) topology, using multiple low voltage power cells in combination to achieve the desired voltage output. The input switch, phase-shifting transformer and VSD are fully integrated in a single MV panel.

“The WEG MVW3000 is particularly suited to applications where there are standard motors with no special insulation,” he says, “or where existing motors are being modified for VSD control.”

This VSD delivers high quality input power using low harmonic multi-pulse transformers. Users benefit from a high efficiency of over 96.5% throughout the entire load range, and a power factor of more than 0.95 throughout the entire speed range.

“The design includes power cells with long-life plastic capacitors, which are more reliable and last longer than dry type capacitors,” he says. “They also have the advantage of not needing to be reformed after long periods of storage.”

In standard configuration, the 11 kV VSD is available from 40 A to 400 A – or 640 kW to 6500 kW – although larger sizes are also available if required.

Among the options on the WEG MVW3000 is an automatic cell bypass solution. This ensures minimal reduction in the output-rated torque so that normal operations can continue. Redundant power cells can also be added to the design to ensure that 100% torque can be maintained. Prior to delivery, all VSDs are fully load-tested in WEG’s state-of-the-art facility in Brazil.


Dry-type transformer specialist Trafo Power Solutions has supplied four purpose-designed units to the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) as part of the institution’s electrical infrastructure upgrades on both its Braamfontein and Parktown campuses.

According to Trafo Power Solutions managing director David Claassen, Wits decided to replace the original oil-cooled transformers with the dry-type, cast-resin transformers. These are safer and more environmentally-friendly due to the absence of oil in the system.

“The high safety factor associated with dry-type transformers has an impact on flexibility and cost,” says Claassen.

“The user can be more flexible in terms of where the units are installed, as they can be placed indoors, in basements or in other confined spaces for convenience. This also means the cost of building special infrastructure for outside installations – a requirement of oil-cooled transformers – can be avoided.”

He highlights that Trafo Power Solutions was closely involved from the proposal stage in this project, providing the necessary application engineering to ensure the appropriate design for the generator company responsible.

“As specialists in transformer technology, our expertise is not just in the product that we are installing but also in understanding the bigger picture – the infrastructure requirements as a whole,” he says. “Any successful installation is a close collaboration between Trafo Power Solutions, the engineering company, the consultants and the contractors to ensure that the final result is fit for purpose and serves the customer’s need.”

With the growing installed base of dry-type transformers in the global marketplace, the price differential between this design and that of conventional transformers has become insignificant. This has opened the door for users to take advantage of the numerous benefits of dry-type transformers, he says.


Construction of the new Data Centre for Orange Botswana is well underway, with this fast track construction project being undertaken by Concor Buildings set to deliver the Tier III Data Centre before the end of 2019.

The Orange Botswana facility, situated in the Botswana Innovation Hub and Technology Park in Gaborone, will be a central point of connectivity for national and international networking and will provide data services to customers in the region.

Brian Carter, operations director at Concor Buildings, says that with an established track record of delivering quality projects including the recently completed Energy Centre at Bank of Botswana, the company offered the requisite expertise and access to resources including skilled local personnel.

Concor has been active in Botswana for more than 50 years and constructed many buildings in Gaborone and Francistown. This includes I-Towers 1 and 2, the De Beers Global Sightholder Sales Complex, the Bank of Botswana Cash Handling Centre and the FNB Head Office as well as infrastructure for Debswana’s Jwaneng Diamond Mine.

The data centre comprises two plant yards, built on either side of the main data hall, to provide concurrently maintainable and fully redundant electrical and mechanical systems to the data centre. The main MEP plant supplying the data hall and other auxiliary facilities are due for installation.

The data centre itself comprises data space – live and future – with electrical rooms on either side facilitating the feeding of the data centre from two sources. Services within the centre include access control, an integrated fire monitoring and alarm system with fire suppression, data trays, air conditioning units, plumbing and drainage and the complete low voltage and medium voltage electrical installation.

The plant yards which feed the electrical rooms are equipped with standby diesel generators, diesel storage tanks and air-cooled outdoor condensers.

External works include the construction of a guard house, parking with carports, bulk diesel and transformer yards, paving, landscaping and perimeter fencing.

Carter says that allowance has been made for future phased expansion in data space and electrical rooms as well in vertical extension.

“While the structure is a standard concrete frame with brick fill, the external walls are cavity walls with an internal vapour barrier. This construction will significantly reduce the building’s mechanical and electrical loads making it more energy efficient and ensuring a stable environment for the data hall,” he says.

In line with Concor Buildings’ operating strategy, Major Incident Prevention (MIP) and Visible Felt Leadership (VFL) programmes are in place on the project. Ongoing safety awareness and risk assessment is further facilitated by a full-time safety officer on the project.

Areas that have received special focus include working at height and activities which need to be conducted in and around the open exterior services excavations on site. These include data sleeves, electrical sleeves, diesel sleeves, fire and plumbing installations and manholes. In addition to this, access to finishes below the 1,2 metre access floor need to take priority.

While the use of local labour was not a prerequisite on the project, some 95% of the on-site people, including employees and subcontractors, are local. Carter says ongoing skills development forms a part of Concor’s commitment to the country and the company’s sustainability model.

The Orange Botswana Data Centre is scheduled for completion in the last quarter of 2019. The centre is expected to cover 81% of the population with 2G network capability, 62% with 3G and 45% with 4G.