Reacting promptly to customer calls for dewatering solutions is what has set Integrated Pump Rental apart, especially in the mining sector. The company recently responded to an urgent need for a dewatering pump at an East African mine.

“If not dealt with promptly, flooding in a mine environment will not only impede productivity but in some cases, lead to unsafe working conditions,” managing director of Integrated Pump Rental, Lee Vine explains. “All of this will result in consequential losses which is why we understand the need to respond quickly to customer calls for dewatering solutions.”

In this recent example, a mine in an East African country reached out to this leading dewatering pump solution supplier. Unseasonably high rainfall had caused major flooding and the mine’s traditional suppliers had quoted long lead times to get equipment to the site. This obviously posed a major risk for the mine.

Vine explains that one of the company diesel driven Skykes pump sets had just completed its contract on a diamond mine in Lesotho and was en route back to the company’s facility in Johannesburg.

“The unit only had 160 hours on it and we immediately did a full assessment of the pump, serviced it and tested it on our in-house test rig to ensure that it would provide the performance and reliability required for its new task,” he says.

“What is most significant is that within one week of receiving the call from the mine, we were able to get the pump set ready, across border and installed on site dealing with the dewatering challenge,” Vine says.

The pump set comprises a Sykes XH150 high head diesel driven pump which is capable of a flow rate of 100 litres per second at a total dynamic head of 150 metres in this application. The skid mounted solution will more than capably deal with the dewatering application at the mine, and the customer made the decision to purchase the unit as opposed to renting it.


At the forefront of technological innovation in collision avoidance systems (CAS), Booyco Electronics is investing heavily in its expertise by actively growing its engineering department in the coming months.

“Engineering the solutions that will ensure safer working places is at the heart of our business,” says Pieter Wolfaardt, chief operations officer at Booyco Electronics. “Collision avoidance is a field that demands highly technical electronic devices as safety deterrents, and we are continually strengthening our capacity to develop and deliver these solutions.”

As the standards governing collision avoidance in the mining industry become more stringent, the technologies serving this need are evolving rapidly as well, says Wolfaardt.

Booyco Electronics has a large market share in South Africa, and its learnings from implementation across many mine sites are incorporated in its solutions offerings further underpinning the company’s commitment to industry best practice principles.

While engineering designs around Booyco products are often customised to meet specific customer and site applications, these are fully aligned with all legislative requirements for the South African mining industry including SANS Codes. The Booyco product range also conforms to the guidelines laid down by the Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table (EMESRT).

“It is our engineering team that develops the product offerings for our customers’ requirements, and the development process never ends,” he says. “They are involved in research and development, extensive testing, and ongoing upgrades.”

Wolfaardt highlights that the company is looking ahead to the kinds of technologies that will be required by 2025, and is aligning itself with that vision. All three of the company’s main product lines – CWS, CXS and PDS – are receiving constant attention and improvement.

Among the most important recent technical achievements has been a ‘scalable’ design that suits a wide range of customer requirements without them having to change hardware on the equipment. Rather, the firmware or the software can be updated on a continuous basis.

“Our increased engineering capacity will support customers who are still getting to grips with changing CAS requirements, especially those mines who are new to CAS,” he says. “Customers often request that our systems to be tested on their trackless mining machinery as they seek the optimal solution. With our increased capacity in the engineering department we can offer a highly systematic and professional service in terms of technology integration and on-site testing.”

The substantial current team of 18 engineers, artisans and technicians will grow to over 30 in the near future. Key qualifications in the department include electronics engineers as well as BTech degrees and National Diplomas, with qualified technicians undertaking most of the testing functions.

“Mining experience is also important in our team, as this improves the way we design and integrate systems for the real working environment in mines,” Wolfaardt concludes.


As part of strengthening its African footprint, Zest WEG has appointed established local firm Panaco as its value-added reseller (VAR) in the Katanga region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

According to Zest WEG’s Africa business development executive, Taylor Milan, Panaco is a 100% locally-owned business that has successfully serviced the region for over 40 years.

“Panaco is a well-established and respected company with strong business relationships with nearly all of our current clients,” Milan says. “Its business methodology and culture are closely aligned with ours, and this synergy will aid us in supporting our current installed base, client network and growth expectations.”

He highlights the increasing importance of local content in the supply of equipment and services across the continent. Zest WEG has prioritised closer partnerships with local firms as a key element of its sustainable growth strategy in Africa.

Milan also emphasises the importance of VARs in this strategy. “Going beyond the role of just a distributor, a VAR is a local business chosen to promote and support the wide range of Zest WEG’s offering. It carries the whole Zest WEG brand into local markets,” he says.

“Panaco has the ability to assist us in growing the comprehensive WEG product portfolio well beyond our traditional low-voltage motor and drive business,” he says. “It has business facilities in Lubumbashi, Kolwezi and Kinshasa – bringing our services and support closer to customers in this fast-growing region.”

The VAR partnership will provide locally accessible support and skills, substantial stockholding and quality products at competitive pricing; it will also build strong and service-oriented customer relationships, says Milan.

Zest WEG has also appointed DRC firm AEMI as a WEG-accredited repair facility, after AEMI successfully met the demanding OEM standards. The company has a full repair facility in Likasi, and another in Kinshasa.


A comprehensive refurbishment on an FLSmidth stacker reclaimer in South Africa is preparing this giant machine for another decade of sustainable productivity.

“As OEM and intellectual property owner, FLSmidth is undertaking the mid-life refurbishment of a stacker reclaimer and tripper car for a customer in a large iron ore application,” says Buks Roodt, Director of Mining Site Sales at FLSmidth. “The extensive work programme is being conducted over two shutdown periods – one in 2019 and another one this year.”

The 2019 scope of work was carried out over three weeks, followed by commissioning and handover. After site access was authorised, the bucket wheel structure and component arrived on site and secondary structural steel fabrication was also completed timeously and delivered.

A comprehensive refurbishment on an FLSmidth stacker reclaimer in South Africa is preparing this giant machine for another decade of sustainable productivity.

According to Gunther Guse, Manager of Mining Site Salesat FLSmidth, structural integrity repairs were carried out alongside large-scale corrosion protection. To ensure life expectancy and maintain reliability, a range of components and systems were refurbished. These included items that would normally only be exposed to standard maintenance practices and services. The integrity of electrical components was also renewed.

In addition to the bucket wheel fabrication and replacement, the full programme scope included refurbishing the long travel drive assembly, rail clamps and end buffer, as well as the hydraulic system, lubrication system and water hose reeler. Bucket wheel boom stay ropes were replaced, and the spillage conveyor was redesigned, fabricated and installed.

“An important aspect of this refurbishment contract is the installation of technological improvements,” says Guse. “Our continuous improvement process at FLSmidth leads to the introduction of components that are more energy efficient, for instance, or allow greater ease of maintenance. We are incorporating these advancements as part of the scope, reducing the client’s cost per tonne loaded.”

These upgrades, when combined with regular maintenance, can also enhance the machine’s life expectancy, extending its longevity even beyond the initial design life of about 30 years. Guse highlights that FLSmidth’s extensive capability in three engineering disciplines is being brought to bear in the project. This expertise covers mechanical, structural and electrical, control and instrumentation engineering.

On the mechanical side, the work includes components and systems such as the open gear systems, gearboxes and hydraulic systems, as well as rotating and moving parts such as trunnions and car-clamps. Structural work includes wear liners, supporting structures and areas of possible structural damage. Also, maintenance detection is undertaken including non-destructive testing for fatigue fracturing. This is done in areas where access to certain structures is not normally possible while equipment is in service.

The electrical, control and instrumentation work includes panels and drives that are approaching the ends of their useful lives. As part of the scope, variable speed drives, motor control centres and the E-house will be refurbished. Where any equipment had become obsolete, newer technologies will be incorporated.

“Our FLSmidth site engineering team had initially conducted a detailed site condition assessment,” he says. “We documented all our findings in three inspection reports – one for each discipline. These findings were used as the basis for the client’s final project scope.”

Roodt emphasises the relationship of trust between customer and OEM, which is vital to mitigate risk and ensure quality performance within demanding deadlines.

“As the OEM, FLSmidth was able to offer our premium technologies and our leading process know-how and services,” he says. “The customer could also rest assured with their direct access to the designers of the OEM equipment.”

A global track record of safe working practices while complying to the project timelines also contributes to minimised risk and smooth implementation, competitively. The scope of work during the customer’s 2019 shutdown was completed without incident or any lost time injuries.

“The customer also valued FLSmidth’s commitment to B-BBEE, supplier development and integration with the local community,” Roodt says.

The second phase of the refurbishment is planned to be carried out in the third quarter of 2020, says Guse.

“We are known for our expertise in large-scope upgrades, refurbishments and retrofit projects,” he says. “This gives customers confidence in our methodology, risk assessment, engineering support and analysis. We are also experienced in project planning, scheduling and implementation, combined with quality assurance and control, commissioning and close-out.”

FLSmidth also assays iron ore for customers and has designed and built fully automated, robotic on-site laboratories. According to Martin Matthysen, Director of Sampling, Preparation and Analysis – Mining at FLSmidth, the company independently operates and maintains sampling systems on behalf of customers.


Tackling the demanding conditions of Botswana’s Kalahari Desert, Concor Infrastructure is nearing completion of a 35 km access road for the Khoemacau Copper Silver Starter Project. Concor is also busy with constructing a parallel haul road , as well as conducting earthworks and concrete civils at the Khoemacau Boseto processing plant.

The Khoemacau Copper Project, located in the central Kalahari copper belt some 65 km southwest of Maun, is developing underground operations at its flagship Zone 5 deposit. The mine plan involves three adjacent underground mines at Zone 5, each producing over 1,2 million tonnes a year in their first five years of production. The haul road will allow mineralised material to be trucked 35 km from Zone 5 to the Boseto processing facility, while the access road will be used by light vehicles. After processing at Boseto, the mineral concentrate will be shipped out for smelting.

Good progress has been made on construction of the access road according to Jay Juganan, contracts director at Concor Infrastructure. The contract for both the access and haul roads was awarded in November 2018.

“The access road was little more than a sand track when we established on site and was accessible only by 4×4 vehicles,” says Juganan. “Essentially, we are creating a corridor for both roads in parallel, and for the powerlines to be installed by another contractor.”

The planning of the haul road also had to consider the large and ancient Baobab trees that are common in the area. Preservation of these trees is a vital imperative, requiring the haul road to be diverted on occasion to avoid about half a dozen Baobabs, which are hundreds of years old.

While the access road is 90% complete and due for completion in Q3 2020, the work on the haul road is also expected to be completed in Q3 this year. Road construction comprises a 600 mm deep cut filled with pioneer crushed rock followed by a G3 sub base and base layer. In some areas the crushed rock is replaced by a natural calcrete. The wearing course is a 9/19 mm double seal. Concor has had to crush all aggregate on site from the old mine waste rock stockpile at Boseto.

Concor Infrastructure contracts manager Tiaan Krugel notes the remote location of the site and the dry conditions are among the key challenges encountered on this project.

“The sourcing and timing of the supply of equipment, parts and construction material required careful and detailed planning,” Krugel says. “The majority had to come from the capital Gaborone – 900 km away, with the other challenge being that most of our equipment OEMs are based in Johannesburg, which is more than 1 300 km from site.”

The scope of Concor’s work at the Boseto process plant, the contract which was awarded in November 2019, includes earthworks and concrete civils to the existing and for the new process plant structures for the crushing, milling, flotation and concentrate handling circuits. The plant had previously treated material from an open pit copper mining operation at Boseto, under the ownership of a different company.

Krugel highlights the challenges of working with concrete on a remote site, especially where temperatures can reach over 40 degrees Celsius during working hours.

“A special concrete mix was designed to accommodate on-site conditions,” he says. “This includes the use of admixtures to prolong the concrete’s workability as well as having to chill the water we use before it is added to the cement and aggregates.”

In addition to the refurbishment and upgrading work at Boseto, Concor has also contributed to preparing the infrastructure at the Zone 5 mining site, where underground development is underway. The work included all internal roads at the Zone 5 mine, terracing for the 650-person accommodation camp, the mine administration surface infrastructure area, the mine workshops and stores area and the explosives magazine together with construction of the ROM pads. The Khoemacau Starter Project expects to produce 62,000 tonnes of copper and 1,9 million ounces of silver each year over its planned life of more than 20 years.

“Despite the restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw a reduction of staff numbers on site due to individual choices, we are working hard to ensure that programme schedules will be met,” says Juganan.


The Coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown is adding impetus to the adoption of technology in mining in a way that is likely to change the sector quite dramatically, according to Simon Andrews, managing director at Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology Southern Africa.

Within the legal restrictions, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology has continued operations in support of its mining customers in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

“Our structure – in which each country is managed independently – has proved invaluable under the lockdown conditions,” Andrews says. “This ensures we have the necessary skills in-country and on-site. In fact, there has been no need for our staff to cross borders.”

Most Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology staff are set up in home offices to keep the wheels turning, and a return to the normal office environment will not be considered before September. The company is also leveraging the technology in its equipment to facilitate remote working.

With its advanced mining automation and teleoperation systems, it is possible to monitor machines and optimise operations from any distance. Andrews says Sandvik has long promoted the merits of this technology, but it is not always simple to dislodge established practices in a conservative industry.

“No-one likes change, and the introduction of technology in any mining process can demand considerable commitment,” he says. “Rather like going to gym, everyone agrees that adopting technology has benefits for business, but actually acting on that belief, however, is a different story altogether.”

He highlights that the practical implementation of technology means tackling a steep learning curve. There is usually a significant change management process required, and myriad teething problems to resolve.

“It is a difficult process, and there often has to be something to break the inertia,” he says. “Certainly, Coronavirus (Covid-19) has forced everyone to work differently and to adopt new technology. Just consider how we work from home with online platforms to communicate with colleagues and customers.”

Like most technology partners in mining, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology had to accommodate a sharp drop in mining operations in the early stages of South Africa’s national lockdown. It continued working with its coal mining customers designated as essential services, and has been ramping up as the rest of the sector returns to work. Equipment and components have continued to be brought in by air and sea, ensuring necessary supplies to customers.

“We stay in close contact with all staff and customers, and the overall business looks positive,” says Andrews. “Projects are generally continuing and orders are coming through. We have, of course, been implementing cost-saving measures to preserve the business for 2020, as we look forward to a better 2021.”

He emphasises, however, that there will be no going back to normal when intensity of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic eases. Technology will be increasingly embraced as it contributes to safer and more remote working practices.

“We want to be part of that journey with our mining customers, as they enter a new era of mining,” he says. “This will see technology, data management and remote operations become a way of life – making mines safer, more efficient and more sustainable.”


A focus on application engineering allows Trafo Power Solutions to supply customised dry-type transformers for a range of sectors including renewable energy.

“We begin at the proposal stage by engaging closely with the customer about the exact application and electrical load,” says David Claassen, managing director of Trafo Power Solutions. “This means that every project gets its own transformer design, so that it is fit for purpose.”

In the case of renewable energy applications, for example, there are some very specific demands that need to be accommodated. A solar power generating plant presents a situation in which a transformer will be energised from zero to 100% on a daily basis.

“This leads to wide fluctuations in temperature inside the transformer which, in turn, causes the resin around the windings to expand and contract considerably,” says Claassen. The windings in dry-type transformers are insulated in a cast resin or epoxy material, rather than oil, and rely on air movement for cooling.

“Such fluctuations could result in the resin cracking, so the design must specify the appropriate class of insulation to cope with these conditions,” he says. “We can design our windings for either a Class F or a Class H insulation. In addition,  the mixture of the resin is specially formulated to accommodate the duty cycle specific to renewable energy applications.”

The standard design – using Class F – can deal with temperatures up to 155 degrees Celsius. For many of Trafo Power Solutions’ low voltage and high voltage installations around Africa, the design includes a resin mix to Class H specifications. This gives it the capacity to withstand temperatures of up to 180 degrees Celsius.

Another aspect that needs to be considered for renewable energy applications is the non-linear load that inverters add to the mix. The transformers need to be designed with a K-Factor much higher than used for standard distribution type loads as well as the addition of an electrostatic shield between the primary and secondary windings, to eliminate potentially damaging leakage currents.  

Claassen notes that dry-type transformers are being increasingly specified for demanding applications such as renewable energy plants, instead of conventional oil transformers.

“With an oil-cooled unit, the temperature fluctuation arising from these rapid and regular energising and de-energising cycles brings its own challenges,” he says. “In particular, it causes more gases to be emitted within the transformer tank, which leads to a variety of problems.”

The cast resin material used in Trafo’s dry-type transformers meets the specifications of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for fire class F1. The units therefore present minimal fire risk, allowing them to be used indoors safely, and without environmental protection like bund walls for potential oil spills.

Claassen says dry-type distribution transformers are fast becoming a more suitable alternative to oil transformers, especially in the distribution power range between 50 kVA size and 10 MVA, although Trafo Power Solutions is able to supply dry type transformers up to a power rating of 25MVA


The mobility of trailer-mounted pumps has earned them a reputation for versatility and efficiency, according to Integrated Pump Rental.

The company’s range of Sykes pumps in mobile configuration has seen enthusiastic take-up in markets varying from large open pit mines to construction sites. Sykes product specialist at Integrated Pump Rental, Henru Strydom, says that the company has even embarked on the local manufacture of these units.

“Mobile pumps can deliver real economy through their ability to be moved where and when required,” says Strydom. “With their own wheel-base, it means that no infrastructure needs to be built before they can start working. They can also be moved quickly in an emergency.”

This applies not only to small units on roadworthy trailers, but to large dewatering pumps for deep, open pit mines. In a recent contract, Integrated Pump Rental locally manufactured a mobile version of its extra-high head Sykes XH150 pump for a diamond mine in the mountains of Lesotho.

“This model can dewater a mine’s pit to a depth of 250 metres,” he said. “The pump can run at full load for up to 28 hours on the tank of diesel that is included on the trailer configuration.”

Next in the range are high head (HH) pumps, which can pump to a height of between 70 to 150 metres, while the medium head (MH) pumps can reach heads of between 50 to 90 metres. The contractors’ package (CP) range comprises the smaller units which can be pulled by a bakkie or 4×4 vehicle. These are also licenced for travelling on public roads.

The robust, auto-priming Sykes pump range has features that protect against overheating or low oil levels, optimising uptime and ensuring low maintenance requirements. Internal components including impellers, wear plates and shafts are supplied in stainless steel as standard for high resistance against acids.


While the ramping up of production since South Africa’s Level 5 lockdown has brought some relief to mining companies, the pressure on efficiencies is unrelenting.

Highlighting the virus-related cost burden on mines – from Covid-19 protocols to temporary shutdowns – Kwatani CEO Kim Schoepflin says raising process efficiency is non-negotiable.

“Increasingly scarce resources and cost pressures are challenging the mineral processing industry,” says Schoepflin. “More than ever, each piece of equipment in the process must deliver efficient output to the exact specification at the lowest cost.”

She emphasises design and monitoring as key factors in continuously improving efficiency levels. As a local manufacturer of custom-designed vibrating screens and feeders, Kwatani leverages cutting edge technology with decades of field experience.

“Using our virtual design software tools – and digitally prototyping customers’ ore and processing flows – we generate bespoke solutions for each application,” she says. “We work as a team in an ecosystem that includes metallurgists, engineers and end-customers – collaborating right through from concept to production.”

Kwatani’s designs benefit from the latest 3D modelling and design techniques, and are subjected to finite element analysis (FEA) to verify engineering integrity. All Kwatani’s vibrating equipment is assessed with in-house test facilities for conformance to the design specification under ideal operating conditions.

“Ongoing monitoring is also vital to ensure that planned efficiencies are being met, and the lowest cost of ownership is being achieved,” she says. “This is supported by our real-time condition monitoring service offering.”

Schoepflin sees even greater opportunities for driving efficiency arising from the advance of artificial intelligence in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. With the advantage of the internet-of-things (IOT), mobile networks and other digital technologies, the process of cost effective customisation has been significantly empowered.

“This evolution is taking the customisation of our equipment into the future, including real-time customisation,” she says. “It promises to allow for multiple activities to be simultaneously tackled in real-time and in a customised manner.”

Such progress in increasingly demanded by the mining sector, as cost and performance drive the need for technology-driven efficiencies.


Concor Construction’s history of investing in youth now has a special relevance: helping young South Africans to develop agility for a challenging future.

According to Donique de Figueiredo, employee engagement and talent manager at Concor Construction, agility is one of the company’s core values – a quality that has been tested by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Now more than ever, we are living in times of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity,” says De Figueiredo. “Globalisation, technological advancement, the fourth industrial revolution and pandemics like Covid-19 are our reality.”

An outreach by Concor to secondary schools in the Western Cape.

In line with the company’s focus on education and skills development as critical drivers of transformation, she says empowered youth can adopt an agile attitude that will prepare them to confront and conquer challenges.

“For Concor, youth development is more than events that are celebrated once a year,” she says. “We ensure that our contribution is strategic and widespread, enabling greater economic access and participation.”

Concor’s external initiatives target youth across the education spectrum, from senior primary school through to tertiary education and beyond – to out-of-school youth and even young entrepreneurs. At schools, this includes extra tuition and resources for learners, focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

There is also a targeted bursary programme aimed at students interested in the built environment, and a graduate mentorship programme to absorb graduates as interns. Out-of-school youth can participate in learnerships, which the company also uses to identify talent. Start-up enterprises within the built environment value chain are supported by Concor’s enterprise and supplier development programme.

Internally, Concor develops future leaders within the business through leadership development of young people who show exceptional performance and high potential.

“We focus on youth to build a talent pipeline, not only for our business and our industry but for the general economy,” says De Figueiredo. “In a country where youth unemployment exceeds 50%, our investment in youth development is aimed at serving the greater good.”