Putting a proximity detection system (PDS) or collision prevention system (CPS) in place in a mining operation is a process that cannot be rushed, says Anton Lourens, CEO of leading PDS and CPS developer Booyco Electronics.

Rather, it needs solid risk assessment, planning, broad engagement and an integrated approach that considers the myriad details involved. Lourens emphasises that for PDS and CPS systems to effectively reduce risk as they are designed to do, everyone must buy into the project and support its outcomes.

“In Booyco Electronics’ many years in this sector, we generally find that haste is counter-productive,” he says. “Where a safety incident has occurred on a mine, for instance, there may be an understandable impatience to get a PDS and CPS solution up and running quickly. The result, however, is seldom what the customer was hoping for, and the process often just takes even longer than it should.”

The key, he highlights, is to conduct a detailed risk assessment upfront to establish exactly what problems the PDS and CPS are expected to resolve. A successful application of this technology will be one in which the mine is proactive about defining the requirement for PDS and CPS, to make sure they meet the specifications identified in the risk assessment.

The next vital task is to involve all stakeholders, including miners at the coal face, various levels of management, the mine training centre, original equipment manufacturers and other relevant suppliers.

“This engagement – and the acceptance of PDS and CPS by these stakeholders – is vital to a successful roll-out,” Lourens says. “Ultimately, all these parties need to understand why they are installing the PDS and CPS equipment, and what the implications and benefits are for each player in the value chain.”

Machine operators are among the key participants in the process, he notes. They need to engage one-on-one with the teams who conduct the equipment installation, and must receive several rounds of training to understand what the equipment will do and how best to look after it.

“A PDS solution is a potentially game-changing safety device that will reduce the risk of collisions and improve workers’ wellbeing in their daily working environment,” he says. “Over the past decade or more, we have seen industry embrace this technology and put it to good use.”

Nonetheless, he points out that the choice of the right PDS or CPS technology to address the identified risk is still a complex and technical process that needs considerable collaboration between suppliers and mines.


With exciting prospects for new mines and brownfield projects in Zimbabwe, Sandvik Mining & Rock Solutions’ Harare-based operation remains at full capacity and at the leading edge of industry innovation.

“We are looking forward to two new platinum operations taking shape, which could be producing within five years, as well as the expansion and digitalisation of existing operations,” says Ian Bagshaw, territory manager for Sandvik Mining & Rock Solutions. “There will also be the rejuvenation of brownfield operations in surface and underground mines.”

Strengthening its capacity to serve its market – which includes customers in Botswana and Mozambique – the company has upgraded the skills, tooling and equipment of its service centre and completed a state-of-the-art technology centre. 

The service centre in Harare remanufactures all current models of Sandvik mobile equipment and also houses  a repair and rebuild facility for all major components as well as a dedicated drifter repair and test centre. 

Its world class Technology Centre works with customers to fully utilise the range of Sandvik digital tools to increase safety and productivity in mining operations.

“We are proud of our strong technical foundation, with about 60% of our 420 plus workforce being engineers, artisans, auto-electricians and other technical specialists,” says Bagshaw. “Investing in training our own people is a priority, and we are proud to note the considerable interest from women in Zimbabwe in pursuing technical careers with some 30% of our apprentices being female at any time.” 

Sandvik Mining & Rock Solutions’ Zimbabwean operation supports the full range of Sandvik equipment in the country ranging from underground trucks and loaders to surface drills and crushing and screening equipment. Bagshaw explains that service and support is tailored to suit each customer’s requirements and ranges from full maintenance contracts to field service callouts, both back by a comprehensive parts stockholding, digital monitoring and ongoing training. 

He highlights the value of the company’s dedicated training department – delivering operator and technical training in-house and for customers. Gap analysis is also provided by the training team, helping mines to assess their skills base and provide targeted training programmes for operators as well as technical and supervisory staff. 

“We are also looking forward to mineral developments in Botswana, where activity on the Kalahari copper belt have created significant opportunities for the mining industry,” he says. “In the near future we will see copper and diamond operations going  underground, which is an exciting prospect.”

Bagshaw notes that Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions’ Harare facility has remained fully operational through the Covid-19 pandemic, ensuring that mines could continue producing optimally as essential services even during the ‘lockdown’ months.

“We are staying abreast of the latest global sustainability trends and corporate mandates, having installed a 420 panel solar energy system to generate 100 kW of power to our facility,” he says. This supplies about 75% of requirements, and reduces its carbon footprint by over 400 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.  


As South Africa endures some of its most difficult economic times yet, the country should recognise the importance of supporting responsible manufacturing practice in its cement sector. 

The call comes from Hannes Meyer, cementitious executive at leading cement producer AfriSam, who emphasises the strategic value – both economic and social – in a sector that generates this vital commodity. 

“As the backbone of our national infrastructure, cement is also a product that represents our highest aspirations of mineral beneficiation,” says Meyer. “To produce this valuable resource, we must start with mining our own deposits. We then process the ingredients through complex technologies that demand considerable financial investment and expertise.” 

The range of products that result must form part of an intricate supply chain before arriving where it must be used, he says. Almost the entire value chain, however, is local – creating market demand and local job opportunities all along the way. 

“In addition to the basic requirements of the cement business, South Africa’s cement producers are also mineral rights holders who must comply with mining regulations, which includes Social and Labour Plans,” he says. “In addition to normal business legislation, we must go the extra mile to promote development in and around the communities where we operate.”

He points out that this is currently more difficult for cement producers than for miners of more high-value commodities, who are currently benefiting from buoyant prices set by global markets. In contrast, cement prices are determined by demand in the country’s building and construction sectors, where performance remains lacklustre. 

“Despite the challenges, local cement producers like AfriSam continue to meet compliance requirements, as these align with our underlying corporate commitment to the future of Africa and the planet,” says Meyer. 

Added to the industry’s responsibilities, he notes, is the growing pressure on all South African businesses to reduce carbon emissions in the interests of a low-carbon future that responds to the growing dangers of climate change. As an energy-intensive sector, cement production is researching and applying various innovations to reduce its carbon footprint. The government’s recent carbon tax – which is payable by local producers – has created a further imbalance in the market that disadvantages local players, he pointed out. 

“With the wholesale import of cement from countries unencumbered by a carbon tax, there is no level playing field for responsible local manufacturers who are often undercut by imports not governed by our rules,” he says. 

The danger of further weakening the South African base of responsible manufacturers, he says, is that the country will need to rely mainly on its own internal capacity if it wants to generate inclusive and sustainable economic growth into the future. With government hoping to raise infrastructure expenditure, there must be strong local construction expertise and products to implement these projects.

“An important part of local cement producers’ contribution is the skills and technology development that we continue to generate for the South African economy,” says Meyer. “We develop skills in local communities, and opportunities for small black-owned businesses, as well as for women and youth in our supply chain. This is a core pillar of responsible manufacturing that the country should support and reward.”


The cement sector in West Africa could make exciting use of clay calcination technology to reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption in cement production, in line with the industry’s sustainability goals. 

As a leader in clay calcination, FLSmidth offers its technology to replace a portion of clinker with environmentally friendly calcined clay, thereby cutting carbon dioxide emissions in comparison conventional cement production. 

According to Deon de Kock, FLSmidth President for Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and South Asia, clay calcination is one of three main areas of technology advancement in cement that the company is currently pursuing. In terms of the company’s MissionZero pledge, it is committed to enable FLSmidth customers to run cement production at zero emissions by the year 2030.

“In addition to clay calcination, we are also focused on enabling the replacement of fossil fuels with alternative fuel sources, and on enhancing carbon capture in cement plants,” says De Kock. “Our current involvement in Europe’s first full-scale clay calcination installation has raised interest globally, and we look forward to applying this technology in our Africa, Middle East and South Asian region.”

The cement sector has had a difficult few years, says De Kock, having to deal with a challenging economic climate while under pressure to meet ever-more stringent environmental regulations and expectations. 

Sridhar Shanmugha Sundaram, FLSmidth Vice President for Cement in Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and South Africa highlights that FLSmidth’s new flash calciner system can produce a highly reactive clay that increases the clinker substitution by up to 40% in the final product.

“Addressing the bottom-line issue, this solution also brings energy savings as calcined clay activates at a much lower temperature than clinker – with required temperatures of 750 to 850˚C instead of 1400 to 1500˚C,” Shanmugha Sundaram he says. “This means lower costs to generate the necessary power.”

He notes the process can deliver significant fuel and power savings of 30% and 40% respectively, when comparing the operating cost of making a tonne of clay versus a tonne of clinker. While a traditional ‘ordinary Portland cement’ (OPC) contains 95% clinker and 5% gypsum, ‘green’ cement can contain as little as 50% clinker – with 30% activated clay, 15% limestone and 5% gypsum. This has a dramatic impact on the plant’s carbon footprint, reducing CO₂ emissions per tonne of cement by 40%.

In addition to FLSmidth’s strong presence in South Africa is its Ghana office – a 13-strong team of local people which is committed to developing local expertise and capacity in the West African region. According to Joseph Appiah-Kubi, General Manager of FLSmidth in Ghana, the company’s corporate social responsibility programme includes a graduate scheme to empower Ghanaians, transfer skills and provide opportunities in the economy to young graduates. 

“This year we have had our first cohort of graduates working with us as part of the government’s compulsory National Service Scheme,” he says. “We will also soon be receiving our first cohort of graduate trainees – those who have finished one year at service engineering school and are coming to us to learn. This gives young people vital experience in the workplace to improve their employability in the market.”


Dosing pumps play an important role in many industries from mining and wastewater treatment to pharmaceuticals and food production – and are available in a growing range of mechanical and digital options.

“Choosing the right pump starts with understanding the respective areas where mechanical and digital dosing pumps excel,” says Tshephang Sithole, sales engineer – water treatment at global pump specialist Grundfos. “While high flows and high pressures might be prioritised in some applications, for instance, other users need to focus on accuracy or remote-control functionality.”

Sithole points out that many industrial applications such as water treatment plants or mining will tend to need a robust solution that delivers large volumes of water at pressures of up to 150 bar. There are still certain automatic functions, though, depending on the configuration. 

“While Grundfos’s basic range of mechanical dosing pumps requires an operator for most functions, our analogue relay (AR) range has additional features such as an automatic stop when the chemicals are depleted,” he says. “Furthermore, the D-range has servomotors to automatically set the stroke length, thereby adjusting the dosing flow.”

This is done with a 4-20 mA signal that can be remotely transmitted from a SCADA system or other digital input. Variable speed drives (VSDs) can also be fitted to these pumps, and the frequency can be adjusted up or down to vary the dose.

Digital dosing pumps, by contrast, come with a range of features that make them most suitable for automated plants or where higher levels of monitoring and control are required, including remote functions. Grundfos has been a pioneer of digital dosing for over 20 years.  

“Automation functions are particularly valuable for companies who have plants in different parts of the country,” he says. “If loadshedding leads a pump to trip, for instance, an alarm will notify the user, and they can remotely reset and restart the operation.”

They are also preferred where accuracy of dosing quantities is prioritised, or where dosing volumes are very small. Some digital dosing pumps boast high turn-down ratios as low as 1:3,000, and can deliver pressures of down to 0,002 bar. 

“They can even pick up leaks in the line, and will help prevent liquid losses by automatically alerting the operator,” he says. 

The automatic de-aeration function is another valuable element in advanced digital dosing pumps, allowing them to detect and remove bubbles from a line. This is important as bubbles will impair the accuracy of dosing. 


South Africa-based vibrating screen and feeder specialist Kwatani will soon add another installation to its extensive footprint in the Northern Cape, this time for a greenfields expansion of a new customer in the iron ore mining segment.

“We have over 1,000 screens, grizzlies and feeders in this important mining region, giving us a market share of about 95% of heavy-duty screening applications there,” says Jan Schoepflin, Kwatani’s general manager: sales and service. “With our well-established branch in Kathu, we are also able to assure our new customer of quick and highly competent service levels.”

The ore characteristics of iron ore demands mechanically robust screening equipment and Kwatani has built a name for itself in these applications, according to metallurgist Frengelina Mabotja, Kwatani’s head of sales for SADC. “Our equipment is engineered for tonnage and continuous throughput, without compromising efficiencies.”

Kwatani’s scope of work on the 700 tonne-per-hour dry processing plant includes a1,5 metre wide grizzly screen to remove fines from the run-of-mine material before it reports to secondary crushing and a 1.5 metre single deck scalping screen. The company will also install two 2,4 metre wide, double-deck sizing screens to separate material after secondary crushing, and five feeders to draw material from bins and stockpiles onto conveyor belts for feeding onto the downstream process.

“Our niche expertise allowed us to once again offer high performance sizing screens customised for this unique dry sizing application and optimise material separation by achieving the required cut size for the customer’s desired product size,” says Mabotja. “Our solution optimises the material separation while maximising efficiency and ensuring mechanical reliability for continuous and economical production.”

She highlights the depth of in-house experience – from both a metallurgical and mechanical approach– which allows Kwatani to assist the decision-making of customers on equipment choice and specifications. With 47 years in the vibrating screen and feeder business, the company can bring its myriad lessons in the field to bear on each project. 

“Through the work of our design team, supported by our manufacturing and testing facilities, we have ensured that the solution will be fit for purpose and reliable,” she says. “The customer was also able to visit our 17,000 square metre local manufacturing operation in Kempton Park regularly to see how we work, to check on fabrication progress and to witness the testing process.”

This level of engagement with customers builds their confidence in Kwatani’s ability, as they can experience first-hand the systematic, quality-controlled approach to design and manufacturing. The company’s extensive facility is ISO 9001:2015 certified. 

The equipment was completed on a tight deadline of 8 to 12 weeks, for delivery by year-end in line with the customer’s timeframe. 

“Our fully-equipped branch in the Northern Cape, staffed by specialists with decades of mining experience, will oversee the installation and commissioning of the equipment,” says Mabotja. “Our team will also schedule regular site visits to monitor on the equipment’s performance and condition, and advise on maintenance requirements.”

To underpin the reliable operation of all equipment supplied, Kwatani will also provide training for the customer’s maintenance personnel in the basic maintenance routines required. 


With its expertise and experience in custom-building diesel driven pumps locally, Integrated Pump Rental ensures their customers get exactly what they need with a short lead time.

“Our in-house capability allows us to design and build pumps to any required specification,” says Steve du Toit, rental development manager at Integrated Pump Rental. “Part of our process is to assess the application and discuss options with the customer, advising on a solution that suits both the operational requirement as well as their budget.”

As the local distributor of the high quality Sykes diesel driven  pump range, Integrated Pump Rental generally uses the appropriate Sykes wet end for each pump design, usually coupled to a Kirloskar diesel engine – a well-respected and popular brand. However, the brands of key components can be chosen by the customer according to their preference, says Du Toit.

“We then design and construct the fuel tank and base or trailer unit, the scale of which depends on the pump’s intended working conditions, mobility and fuel consumption,” he says. “The material of construction must also be carefully selected, based on factors like water acidity and abrasiveness.”

In the case of high acidity, for instance, stainless steel is the preferred material, while more abrasive applications can be served with a coated S.G. iron material. The solution is put together by a team that includes qualified draughtsmen and experienced boilermakers, electricians and diesel mechanics. 

“Our performance driven approach ensures that all the necessary specialists collaborate closely in turning the customer’s requirement into reality,” he says. “This includes hands-on involvement by top management, making for quick decisions, innovative solutions and a fast process all round.”

The result is a top quality locally assembled pump which draws on readily available components and can be delivered within tight timeframes. Customers can also rely on Integrated Pump Rental’s well-known service levels to ensure ongoing maintenance and optimal uptime. 

“Our versatile team, combined with the wide range of Sykes pump capacities, allows us to locally build pumps for every application – from small-scale contract dewatering to large open pits on mines,” he says. 

Du Toit notes that many of their custom-built pumps are for customers who have previously rented pumps from the company, and are impressed by the performance and reliability of those Sykes units. While diesel driven pumps are most in demand, Integrated Pump Rentals can also design pumps with electric motors, for those applications where electrical power is available on site. 


As the economic pinch continues in sectors like construction and mining, there has been an alarming increase in the number of companies let down by underperforming crushing and screening equipment, spares support and technical aftermarket support, according to Pilot Crushtec director of sales and marketing Francois Marais.

“We have fielded a growing number of calls recently from companies using other manufacturers’ equipment, requesting urgent assistance in providing alternatives or support to help them meet their contract obligations,” says Marais. “It appears to us as if many companies have selected equipment based purely on price, rather than its suitability for their application.”

He highlights the devastating impact which these constant – and sometimes catastrophic – technical failures and lack of spare supply have on the performance and reputation of these crushing service providers. With crushing contracts being invariably linked to strict time and output requirements, any downtime can place delivery and fulfilment at risk.

“Even if the equipment can be kept functional, these unexpected repair and maintenance costs can end up rendering a project unprofitable,” he says. “What is happening in these cases is that any savings from the capital expenditure on the equipment is being eaten up by fast-rising operating expenditure.”

The irony is that it is often the companies whose profitability is already marginal, who try to survive by purchasing low-priced equipment upfront. He points out that this exposes the business to dangerously high levels of operating risk, as any unexpected downtime quickly wipes out the narrow profit margin. 

“One bad purchasing decision can push these players over the edge,” says Marais. “There is a mistaken belief that they can ‘save their way’ to profitability – which simply does not make financial sense in this competitive sector.”

He emphasises that successful crushing contractors recognise the vital importance of mission-critical equipment in their enterprises and contracts. They earn their success and reputation by top-class performance, ensuring the production levels that customers demand – and thereby winning the return business necessary for sustainability and growth.

“The economic environment certainly makes many firms risk-averse, and this tempts them to trim their capex budgets to unsustainable levels,” he says. “This suggests that they are incentivised by the wrong metrics, and may not have a proper alignment between their procurement mandate and their strategic business objectives.”

He notes that this challenge is also reflected in a prevailing business culture in which buyers feel they are only justified in purchasing after the price is substantially reduced. 

“Our approach at Pilot Crushtec has always been clear: we provide the assurance of performance, so that customers do not put themselves at unmanageable risk by purchasing our equipment,” he says. “With this approach, we try to set them up for success, and support them in meeting their own customers’ expectations in turn.”

Marais argues that Pilot Crushtec can achieve this because of its 30 years of experience, and the proven quality of its equipment, service, spares stock holding and backup support. The company invests heavily, for instance, in its on-site stockholding, so that customers do not have to wait usually for parts. It also configures its equipment with everything that customers need, so they are not left stranded in the middle of a project without mission critical features.

“Our decades of experience in the field means that we know what our customers use to improve performance, and we supply these features as standard on our equipment,” he says. “When you consider all the added features that our machines come with as standard, it is easy to be impressed by the value for money that we provide.”

By way of example, he points to the Metso Lokotrack LT120 mobile jaw crushing plant, which comes standard with a hydraulic rock-breaker which is a very expensive item to include as a standard. The unit also boasts the innovative Metso lifting tools system for changing the liners on the jaw crusher, saving more than half the time to replace liners. It also has 30% less hydraulic oil, making for considerable savings that the average customer would not expect. Pilot Crushtec has been the local distributor for Metso for the past six years.

“By saving on downtime and enhancing safety, we help customers remove excessive risk from their projects, so they can build sustainable brands and successful businesses,” he says. “It is no coincidence that the top five contractors in the crushing space rely predominantly on equipment from Pilot Crushtec.”


As a leading innovator in mining skills development, the Murray & Roberts Training Academy (MRTA) is using a coaching initiative to strength the outcomes of its supervisor training. 

According to Tony Pretorius, education, training and development (ETD) executive at Murray & Roberts Cementation, the aim is to raise the impact of the training investment, to deliver optimal team performance. This intervention builds on the success of the company’s Licence to Supervise Programme which targets miners, artisans, shift bosses and engineering foremen.

“By deploying specialised coaches who understand the concepts of neuroscience and safety leadership – as well as technical skills in mining – we can ensure our supervisors effectively apply in the workplace what they are taught on our courses,” says Pretorius. “While the Licence to Supervise Programme is run over four weeks, the coaching is an ongoing process.”

He notes that behaviour is not always changed overnight, and sometimes requires an extended period of corrective and developmental coaching. The coaches participating in the scheme are well qualified and highly experienced at mine overseer level, and are licenced to supervise trainers. The process of coaching reinforces key areas of supervisor responsibility such as leadership as well as risk management in the fields of safety, health and environment (SHE).

“It often takes time to secure the application of soft skills in the workplace,” he says. “The learning journey is intended to progress our supervisors from compliance to resilience, to support our corporate vision as a leading mining engineering contractor.”

The coaching is currently focused on supervisors in Murray & Roberts Cementation, but can be offered to external clients who are interested in taking a similar approach in their skills development practices. The Licence to Supervise Programme has been initiated by and applied within Murray & Roberts Cementation, but will be rolled out across the group’s other platforms where required. There are 800 to 1000 supervisors working in the business at any one time, he says, highlighting their key role as facilitators of safety and productivity.

“Leaders need to understand that they influence the behaviour of those reporting to them,” says Pretorius. “By instilling a positive approach to safe production – among operators and other staff – supervisors are critical to successful projects; our coaching will further enhance their development and performance.”


Reliable air conditioning systems in large mobile equipment on mines, quarries and bulk earthworks sites can make the difference between profit and loss; it all comes down to good maintenance, according to Booyco Engineering.

Weather and humidity can be extreme in many parts of southern Africa, with temperatures fluctuating from minus 10 degrees to 40 degrees Celsius, and humidity levels reaching 95%. Booyco Engineering managing director Brenton Spies says these factors, combined with harsh operating conditions on remote sites, raise the risk of unexpected work stoppages.

“Not only do these conditions place heavy demands on climate control systems, they can also seriously undermine productivity when these systems fail,” says Spies. 

He highlights that in many situations an operator is entitled to ‘down tools’ if environmental conditions in the cab are not conducive to health and safety. 

“This means that the whole operation is dependent on functional and efficient air conditioning,” he says. “Achieving this through regular and professional maintenance is not difficult, but many companies do not give this work the priority that it deserves.”

He disputes that it is a financial issue, because the actual cost of good maintenance pales into insignificance compared to the cost – and reputational risk – associated with load and haul equipment standing idle during an unplanned breakdown. Something as simple as a clogged filter presents a safety risk, and keeping it clean minimises the risk of fire, short circuits and malfunctions.

“Avoiding downtime is not the only reason for conducting scheduled maintenance,” he notes. “Well-maintained air conditioning equipment is also more energy efficient – so it delivers ongoing savings to the operation while performing better for the operator.”

It also adds to the life of the air conditioner, reducing overall cost of ownership. When this equipment is maintained properly, argues Spies, it can last up to 15 years. 

The key is to engage the right skills and experience to conduct the work, and to have a plan in place to ensure it is carried out regularly. This requires a technician qualified to work on pressurised refrigerant systems, who understands how these systems are best applied in harsh working conditions.

“Booyco Engineering has decades of experience in designing and building these climate control systems from the ground up – customised for specific applications,” he says. “This puts us in a unique position to support and maintain this equipment through its life cycle.”

The company has a range of maintenance offerings. A monthly service involves cleaning of return and fresh air filters, checking for leaks and functional HVAC testing, while a bi-monthly service also includes blowing out the condenser coil. In a three-monthly service, a chemical cleaning of the condenser is done, as well as checking of wiring, fasteners, V-belt tension, gas leaks and refrigerant pressures. In an annual service, a compressor oil level check is added, and a chemical cleaning of the evaporator coil.

“We can provide service level agreements for customers, after surveying their equipment and advising on the appropriate maintenance schedule,” he says. “We offer all customers a 24/7 service, 365 days a year, with response time of just 12 hours where there is not an MOS in place.”