All posts by Craig Dean

CONCOR BUILDS TO TOP-LEVEL GREEN RATING AT IKUSASA

Its commitment to Zero Harm and sustainability ideally positioned Concor to complete the Ikusasa office block in Rosebank’s Oxford Parks precinct to 6-Star SA Office V1.1 green standards. 

According to Concor contract manager Martin Muller, the company has constructed a number of buildings in this development and elsewhere to 5-Star Green Star SA level in terms of the Green Buildings Council South Africa (GBCSA) certification. Ikusasa will be the first one of its projects to achieve a 6-Star Green Star SA Office V1.1 design certification. Green Star certification is an internationally recognised mark of quality for the design, construction and operation of buildings, interior fitouts and precincts.

“Concor’s strict performance strategies to manage water use, energy consumption, process waste and pollution all contribute to upholding critical environmental standards,” says Muller. “In addition to carefully applying our client’s sustainable designs, our quality systems all contribute to the points requirement in the GBCSA rating.”

These included Concor’s application of a comprehensive Environmental Management Plan on site, in line with its ISO14001 accreditation. It also applied a rigorous Waste Management Plan, which saw 70% of demolition and construction waste being re-used or recycled rather than going to landfill.

“We also conducted a hazardous materials survey on the project site before demolishing existing buildings, in accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and other legislation,” he says. “Wherever we found asbestos, lead or polychlorinated biphenyls, these substances were responsibly removed as the law required.”

Annelide Sherratt, head of department for green building certifications at Solid Green Consulting, notes that four key members of Concor’s site team completed the Green Star online course – which helps the team understand and apply sustainable ratings on the project. Sherratt highlights that the Green Star certification focuses on nine categories of sustainability achievement, from management and materials to the reduction of energy use, water and emissions. 

“In terms of the materials category, for instance, the Green Star rating rewards developers and contractors for reducing the amount of natural resources used, and for reusing materials wherever possible,” she says. “At the Ikusasa project, Concor reduced the portion of ordinary Portland cement used in their concrete mixes by 30% as an average across all concrete mixes used in the project, and achieved a level of 60% recycled content in the steel requirement.”

Local sourcing of materials also played a role in this category, where Concor sourced 20% of the contract value from suppliers within a 400 km radius of the site, and 10% within 50 km. 

In terms of energy efficiency, Ikusasa aims to achieve a Green Star SA Net Zero Carbon Level 1 – by generating as much energy on site as the base building would require. This includes the use of a photovoltaic solar generation system on the roof of the building, producing renewable power. The building’s design and operation enhances energy efficiency by applying sub-metering to track and control the main areas of consumption.

“Any energy uses of 100 kVA or more are metered separately so users can benchmark usage targets and implement opportunities to reduce consumption,” she says. “This impacts on the production of greenhouse gasses and other emissions associated with electricity generated by fossil fuels.”

The data generated by the metering system is captured and analysed by a digital monitoring system for building management, but is also shared with the building’s tenants and visitors on a public display screen – aimed at raising awareness and driving energy-efficient behaviour. 

Conserving water is another important element of the building’s environmental performance. This is optimised using options like low-flow tap fittings and dual flush toilets, as well as water sub-metering for uses such as irrigation and bathrooms. Plant irrigation was reduced by 50% using water-wise irrigation methods and smart sensors. Also, the heating, ventilation and cooling system is cooled by air rather than by water. 

MULTOTEC’S RAMA™ IS A GIANT STEP IN PRECISION SAMPLING

With its latest sampling system that aligns with metallurgical accounting standards, minerals processing equipment leader Multotec now offers unprecedented levels of accuracy for effective plant optimisation.

The company’s Realtime Automated Metallurgical Accounting (RAMA™) system promises to deliver significant value by unlocking higher mineral content through improved grade control and recovery, as well as by optimising the consumption of reagents. The system essentially brings three sampling disciplines – metallurgical accounting slurry sampling, sub-sampling, preparation and analysis – into one solution.

“By integrating our advanced samplers with a sample preparation system that meets metallurgical accounting standards, we can feed online analysers with a fully representative and accurate sample,” says Modisaotsile Nyokong, process manager at Multotec. “While analysers can be accurate instruments, they cannot provide meaningful results if they are fed with inaccurate samples.”

Nyokong highlights that the RAMA™ online analysis feed preparation system extracts regular and full sample increments from slurry flow streams according to AMIRA P754 metal accounting standards, best practice standard and Theory of Sampling. This eliminates more than 80% of the total sampling error, and allows real time process control to be conducted to the highest standard.

“Samples are extracted from the production flow using automated mechanical samplers which are Theory of Sampling (TOS) compliant,” he says. “This is achieved by taking full cross-cut samples that are representative of the flow stream.”

The analysed slurry is therefore unbiased, presenting an accurate reflection of all the key parameters such as particle size, slurry density, settling velocity and mineral grade. He explains that process control samplers – including pressure pipe, poppet and shark fin type samplers – have traditionally been used to feed online analysers. However, these primary samplers do not comply with the TOS, with the result that poorly represented samples are analysed with high levels of precision – which is a futile exercise. 

“Our advantage with the RAMA™ system lies with feeding representative samples to online analysers, using correct sampler designs,” says Nyokong. “This produces real time results that represent the flow stream and are free of error or statistically significant bias.”

Multotec’s slurry sample preparation solution prepares and treats each analysis stream in its own line, making it ideally suited to analysers that deal with streams individually – avoiding cross-contamination. Where multiple streams are analysed through the same analyser source and detectors, some cross contamination of streams can occur with different grades or mineral properties – undermining the accuracy of the result. 

Over an analyser multi-stream cycle, the RAMA™ system can collect composite samples for each stream, says Willem Slabbert, sampling and magnetics product specialist at Multotec. This means that the analyser does not measure the instantaneous off-take stream ‘sample’ from the traditional in-line continuous discharge like process control samplers – which is only done about 30 minutes apart. 

“Rather, it measures the performance of each stream through multiple composite samples taken over the 30 minute interval,” says Slabbert. “This reduces the grade or quality variability per flow stream, and gives the plant manager a more representative monitoring of minimum and maximum process conditions – with precise values.”

The problem with ‘snapshot’ sampling of process control samplers is that stream properties can fluctuate before and after the analysis. This fluctuation is therefore not captured in the results. By contrast, the RAMA™ system’s composite sample accounts for all process variations over the analysis period.

Slabbert reiterates that sample analysis results are only as good as the sample presented for analysis, pointing out that this applies as much to online analysers for process control as it does to conventional laboratory analysis for metallurgical accounting.

“RAMA™ is also a cost saving solution, as separate process control samplers are no longer required,” he says. “The samplers’ purpose in our system is doubled up for both metal accounting and for process control – without the need for any compromise.”

Configured in a containerised and modular design, RAMA™ is a compact and mobile system. This allows for easy installation and retrofitting into any plant operation – where it can feed any type of online analyser. It can also be readily transported and commissioned, with flexibility for expansion where necessary. Layout options are available for plants which have primary and secondary sampling with a subsequent containerised sample preparation stations, as well as for those with primary sampling only and separate secondary sampling preparation. 

The RAMA™ system allows analysers, for the first time, to be fed with representative samples taken from the production flow stream. The innovative combination of existing equipment with proven track record into a modular, containerised solution will bridge the gap between metallurgical accounting accuracy and accurate process control. 

“The advantages of this novel combination of sampling global best practices into process control applications will unlock value for both analyser calibration as well as optimal, dynamic process performance,” Slabbert concludes.

FULL WATER MANAGEMENT OFFERING FROM WEIR MINERALS AFRICA

Optimising water usage is a priority for Weir Minerals Africa – it is an area that can often be overlooked but contributes significantly to a mine’s Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) drive as well as its bottom line. “Our product and service offering aims to assist mines reduce their overall water consumption while optimising their usage requirements,” says Marnus Koorts, pumps general manager.

He says that when assisting a mine with its water requirements, Weir Minerals Africa’s starting point is to gain an understanding of the mine’s often unique challenges (for example, seepage in unknown areas and water accumulation), evaluate the site which often reveals unexpected outcomes and put together a tailor-made solution designed to integrate into existing infrastructure and resolve the problem areas.

Koorts’ colleague, Christian Stehle, who is head of engineering at Weir Minerals Africa, emphasises that the delivery of such solutions is generated in collaboration with the company’s in-house engineering team, an offering few OEMs provide. “When dealing with water it is important to understand that it is a dynamic situation where changes can be frequent. Our team understand this and know how to manage it with the support of our extensive product range.” 

So strong is Weir Minerals’ engineering capability that it has coined the term ‘engineered to order’ – a phrase that demonstrates its focus on delivering customised integrated solutions. 

The company designs and engineers a full range of dewatering pumps and equipment under well-known brands Multiflo®, Warman®, Envirotech® and GEHO® – suitable for any dewatering, drainage or water transfer application, providing optimum pumping performance in the most arduous conditions in applications all over the world. 

These dewatering pumps are part of Weir Minerals Africa’s extensive range of mine and dewatering products, including Cavex® hydrocyclones, Enduron® dewatering screens, speciality Linatex® hose, Isogate® valves, and tailored Multiflo® pontoons and barges. 

Following a partnership agreement with Andritz, the company also offers the Isodry® brand. This incorporates a range of equipment that has been specifically developed to deliver first class solid-liquid mechanical separation for the mining and aggregates industries including thickeners, filter presses, centrifuges, and vacuum belt filters.

Both Stehle and Koorts confirm that Weir Minerals Africa (together with all Weir Group companies) have, are and remain invested in technology – because this too assists with any sustainability drive, particularly when used in conjunction with water management solutions.

A prime example of the company’s dedication to providing technology-driven solutions is Synertrex® – an intelligent analytics platform that can easily be integrated into existing systems. It helps operations to understand wear rates, forecast replacement part timing and assists in making decisions to improve overall efficiency without unexpected downtime. 

NATIONAL BUDGET “HIGHLY SATISFACTORY” SAYS TOP ECONOMIST

Speaking at AfriSam’s recent National Budget Breakdown function, an annual event now in its fifth year, Dr Azar Jammine, director and chief economist of Econometrix, gave a thumbs up to the 2022 budget, saying it was “highly satisfactory with no harm”.

He cautioned, however, that servicing the national debt was becoming increasingly onerous and now accounted for 14 % of government expenditure. He also expressed the view that there was nothing in the budget “to make one believe sustainable growth will improve forthwith”.

Jammine congratulated Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana for making a commitment to increased spending on capital assets while, at the same time, attempting to curb the growth in the public sector wage bill. “We’re now seeing an attempt to slow down the compensation of employees as a percentage of the overall tax bill and to increase the amount of investment in capital assets,” he said.

Jammine was the main speaker at the event and reviewed both the global and local economy. Sharing the stage with him was Trevor Manuel, who served as South Africa’s Minister of Finance from 1996 to 2009, making him the longest serving finance minister in South Africa’s history. Manuel provided valuable and insightful commentary, based on his intimate knowledge and experience. He also fielded many questions from the floor and enlightened the audience with his unique insights into the South African economy. 

Manuel referred to the “ravages of state capture”, saying it was not just about corruption but also the destruction of institutional capacity. As an example, he noted that the SA Police Service (SAPS) would be underspending its budget in the 2021/22 fiscal year by around R20 billion, giving the lie to the often-heard claims that the SAPS was underfunded. 

He added that the situation was even more chaotic at provincial and municipal level. On the challenge of water supply, he asked how it was possible that one of the major metros in the country – Gqeberha – had failed to maintain its water infrastructure.

He also referred to “this horrible phenomenon called the construction mafia”, saying that it basically meant that the pricing of contracts could not be realistic and that projects could sometimes not commence, never mind being completed.

Reviewing the global economy, Jammine said it had grown by 5,9 % in 2021 with the IMF predicting that this figure would fall to 4,0 % in 2022 and 3,8 % in 2023. By contrast, South Africa had shown 4,6 % growth in 2021, well below the global average, with the IMF forecasting that this would drop to 1,9 % in 2022 and a paltry 1,4 % – the lowest of any major economy – in 2023. 

“Since 2009 South Africa’s growth trajectory has lagged that of the world economy,” he said. He added that while activity in the world economy was back to the levels seen before the onset of the COVID pandemic, this was not the case with South Africa, mainly due to structural factors that inhibited growth. 

These structural impediments included skills shortages, state capture and corruption, cadre deployment, the deterioration of SOEs, lack of infrastructural investment, over-regulation and non-payment for work, and labour market restrictions.

On the subject of debt, Jammine told his audience that government debt to GDP ratios worldwide were “quite terrifying” with US debt, for example, now amounting to between 120 – 130 % of GDP. He also noted that since 2020, the US Fed had injected as massive stimulus recovery package of around five trillion dollars into the economy – to counter the economic effects of COVID – and that other countries had followed suit. The result was sharp upward pressure on prices. 

“The genie is now out of the bottle in the form of a massive surge in inflation the likes of which we have not seen in 40 years in the world economy,” he observed. He added that South Africa’s inflation rate was below that of the US for the first time in 30 years. 

Referring specifically to South Africa’s budget, Jammine said SARS had collected R182 billion more in taxes than anticipated, with this economic windfall giving Minister Godongwana considerable leeway in formulating the budget. He pointed out that the windfall was largely due to increased payments by the mining industry as a result of mining companies having benefitted from the current surge in commodity prices. 

Turning to some of the specifics of the South African economy, Jammine said construction – AfriSam’s primary market – had been the weakest sector of the economy over the past decade and now accounted for just 2,5 % of GDP. This was due to gross capital formation in South Africa having declined, as a percentage of GDP, from 19 % around 2014 to the current 13 %.

Concluding his presentation on a positive note, Jammine said the construction industry could receive a big boost from an increase in infrastructural spending. He noted that 51 well-defined projects worth R340 billion had been identified in the 2020 Economic Recovery and Construction Plan and that the project pipeline has since been expanded to include an additional 55 projects worth R595 billion. 

This amounted to a grand total of R935 billion representing 126 % of total annual fixed investment. He said that if all – or even just some – of these projects were implemented it would be a game changer for the industry and a major boost to the economy, with growth increasing by as much as 2 % a year.

KWATANI SCREENS SUPPORT GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY IN NAMIBIA

Namibia’s bustling mining scene is seeing an exciting expansion and technological innovation at a leading gold mining operation, with Kwatani supplying five mill discharge screens – all custom designed and manufactured at its Gauteng facilities.

Kim Schoepflin, CEO of Kwatani, says her company has a long history in Namibia and a strong footprint across various commodities there – including an established presence at this gold mine. It has worked with the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor and the end-customer for two to three years on conceptualising the optimal solution.

“The mine is gearing up to increase its production by 50%, to take advantage of the strong gold price,” says Schoepflin. “Our role was to ensure that our discharge screens meet their exact process requirements – with our efficiencies of up to 95% – while delivering mechanical integrity for minimal maintenance downtime.”

The expansion includes the installation of two latest-technology mills – a high-pressure grinding roll (HPGR) and a vertical mill – which will boost production while reducing energy demand. Kwatani’s mill discharge screens, each measuring 3 m wide by 8 m long, will handle the coarse and fine material from the HPGR and the vertical mill. The company will also supply three silo feeders of 1,2 m by 2,5 m in size, to feed material from the silo to conveyors.

“Our screen design optimises the retention time on the deck, allowing for better screening and stratification,” she says. “Due to the volume of slurry and water sprayed onto the screens, the added retention time assists with better drainage at lower cut points.” 

The coarse screens were designed at a decline, and feature a larger screening media aperture with higher amplitude and stroke. Together with lower speed, this achieves better screening efficiency for the coarser particles. The fine horizontal screens, with smaller aperture screening media for the finer feed, were designed with a higher speed and lower amplitude and stroke; this will optimise the screening efficiency of the finer feed to these screens.

She also highlights the attention paid to the isolation of the vibrating screens. In this case, Kwatani engineers selected rubber buffers, which have higher dynamic loads but are more suited to wet applications and screens with a heavier mass.

“The number and type of buffers were defined according to the mass of the screens,” says Schoepflin. “The selection of rubber buffers for larger screens also assists with start-up and shutdown time, allowing the screens to come to rest more effectively.”

For these five screens, Kwatani designed and supplied custom counter-balance frames to minimise the dynamic load to the plant infrastructure. The company’s screen technology includes designing its exciters in-house. This ensures that screens receive the necessary G-forces for optimal material stratification and screening, matching customers’ process requirements with the best possible efficiencies. 

“To make sure our screens cope with the high capacity demands of modern processing plants, we rigorously test all units in our in-house testing facility before dispatch,” she said. “These units began their journey to Namibia at the end of November 2021, and our team will support the commissioning when the customer requires.”

CONCOR STARTS WORK ON FAST-TRACK STUDENT BLOCK 

Leading black-owned contractor Concor is hard at work on the latest student accommodation project in Braamfontein, Johannesburg – a much-needed contribution to the national shortage of these facilities.

The Groove, a substantial 13-storey development, will provide space for 899 students, and is conveniently located just opposite the South Gate of Wits University. Concor is working with developer Growthpoint Properties, who in turn is operating on behalf of Durban-based fund manager Vulindlela. 

In addition to the new build, the project is also repurposing some of the existing buildings on the site where the old Doves & Kloppers funeral parlour became a familiar landmark on the busy Enoch Sontonga Avenue. These existing buildings will provide additional services and utilities for student residents.

The fast track venture is scheduled for completion in just 12 months, according to Concor site agent MacDonald Ngobese, and began in November 2021. 

“Concor has a well-established reputation for delivering complex projects speedily and on budget, while still being highly competitive in terms of costing,” says Ngobese, “This places us in a strong position to win projects like this.”

He notes that the successful completion of fast track projects relies on having a highly skilled and experienced core team on site, to closely manage subcontractors and to keep strictly to the construction programme. This also requires constant and in-depth communication with all stakeholders, from the client to operational partners and local authorities.

“The scope of the work includes full fit-out, right through to joinery,” he says. “Among the challenges is the very constricted work environment, as the site borders busy urban roads and the M1 highway.”

Two of Concor’s tower cranes have been erected on site to help deal with space constraints and to expedite the movement of materials in the interests of a fast pace of construction. While one crane is working 13 hours a day on production work, the second is speeding up the off-loading and placement of material deliveries. 

CONVERTING DATA INTO ACTION 

Leveraging the powerful telemetry and data acquisition capability of its mining equipment, Sandvik Mining & Rock Solutions is rolling out its Remote Monitoring Service – which analyses data to optimise valuable uptime.

By translating vast amounts of data from underground mining equipment into actionable recommendations, Remote Monitoring Service can also reduce the cost per hour of production equipment, lengthen its lifespan and improve operator safety. 

According to Imraan Amod, business line manager services responsible for Southern African at Sandvik Mining & Rock Solutions, the innovative system effectively merges telemetry data from the equipment fleet with Sandvik’s digital and OEM technical expertise. 

“This includes a global pool of reference data and in-depth analytical skills, which combine to produce actionable recommendations for continuous improvement of mining operations,” says Amod “We know our equipment through and through, so we are uniquely positioned to maximise its productivity wherever our data analysis presents an opportunity.”

Sandvik data scientists continuously monitor and analyse the data points acquired from customers’ production equipment. They identify root causes for abnormalities and develop predictive solutions to increase the mean time between failures.

By monitoring and analysing machine data and operator behaviour, Remote Monitoring Service can answer important technical questions to help streamline operations. For instance, it gives insight into why one operator consistently achieves better productivity than another, or why a specific loader suffers from unplanned downtime more often. 

“An example of what Remote Monitoring Service offers is to avoid improper gear selection, which can easily damage power train components,” he says. “It can identify incorrect gear selection when driving uphill and downhill, utilising algorithms tailored to the conditions at the customer’s mine.”

Another scenario is premature engine failure; Remote Monitoring Service uses a neural network to observe operational signals from the engine. This determines the possible defect before it leads to power loss and engine breakdown. 

“This is an attractive value proposition for mine owners and mining contractors, as it allows mean time between failures to be targeted and improved,” he says. 

In addition to technical improvements, there is also the bigger picture of stakeholder expectations. Emerging social investors and other stakeholders today expect results and transparency around decarbonisation and sustainability, not just financial performance. Remote Monitoring Service can identify opportunities for reduced fuel consumption – and hence less climate emissions – so that mines can focus their operator training accordingly. 

The service is primarily designed for underground mining, suitable for both large and small operations as well as all types of underground production equipment. Remote Monitoring Service does not require customers to invest heavily in IT infrastructure or associated resources. Rather, the service provides a high return on the initial investment along with short lead times and low risks.

ENVIROTECH® PUMPS POPULARITY CONTINUES IN AFRICA 

Underpinning the popularity of Envirotech® pumps is Weir Minerals Africa’s ongoing investment and support, as well as the pumps’ integration into various pumping solutions that the company offers.

According to Marnus Koorts, general manager pumps at Weir Minerals Africa, Envirotech® pumps are especially popular in the gold mining sector, where up to 200 of these pumps can be found on a single site. He says there are three ranges in the Envirotech® line-up, which Weir Minerals Africa acquired in 1994 and continues to develop and support. 

“The Envirotech C5 range of metal pumps has always been a favourite for dirty water applications, and is widely used in mine dewatering,” says Koorts. “Its high pressure capacity of 6900 kPa makes it ideal for high head applications.”

The Alpha range of Envirotech® pumps is rubber-lined to resist abrasion, while the Envirotech® ME pump with metal expeller and Envirotech® MG pump with metal gland are unlined. All the ranges benefit from ongoing research and development, and are available in the various materials of construction offered by Weir Minerals Africa. 

“When selecting and sizing their pumps, customers can choose from our range of metal alloys including our Ultrachrome and Hyperchrome alloys,” he says. “There is also a wide range of rubber linings on offer, from our R55 premium grade elastomer to butyl rubber formulations.”

The technology incorporated into Envirotech® pumps make them a valuable part of Weir Minerals Africa’s engineered-to-order solutions and pontoons, where they are integrated with other products like Linatex® hoses and Isogate® valves. Koorts also highlights that the company’s Synertrex® smart analytics platform can be applied to Envirotech® pumps, for remote monitoring of equipment health.

Among the most important aspects of its expertise that Weir Minerals Africa has applied to its Envirotech® pumps is its Wear Reduction Technology (WRT®), which gives them not only longer wear life but also higher operating efficiencies.

“Many of the Envirotech pumps are now coming out with WRT components as standard,” he says. “This delivers massive value to customers, as the energy saving from the high efficiency is substantial.”

In a recent highly abrasive application, the WRT® impeller in the Envirotech® pump delivered double the lifespan of a replicator’s impeller. More importantly, the Envirotech® pump consumed almost a fifth less electricity each year, saving the user many times more than the value of the component itself.

“We continue to evolve and upgrade the Envirotech pump range in the same way as all our products, giving customers a modern and responsive solution to their pumping needs,” he says. 

The Envirotech® pump range is cast and manufactured in South Africa, and supported through the company’s extensive branch footprint throughout Africa and the Middle East.

FULL STAINLESS STEEL PUMP SET FROM LOCAL SPECIALIST

Pump specialist and local Sykes distributor Integrated Pump Rental is breaking new ground for customers in corrosive environments, offering a pump solution that is built entirely from stainless steel.

According to Steve du Toit, rental development manager at Integrated Pump Rental. while the pumps themselves or pump components are commonly available in stainless steel, the market has not yet made something like this readily available.

“Our focus on specific customer requirements, built to order in our modern workshop, has led us to develop a fully stainless steel solution – from the tank and skid to the lifting frame and other components,” says du Toit. “We have seen a definite interest in the market for this build design, as customers see the value in having this corrosion resistant material in all aspects of the pump set.”

He notes that the initial interest has come from the mining sector, where mine water being pumped is often acidic. However, he expects further interest from the chemical and process industries where corrosive liquids are pumped and stored. 

“The design is based on our ‘total solution’ approach, where we consider the complete application and its challenges,” he says. “While the upfront cost of stainless steel is obviously higher, the value gained by the customer in terms of longevity and reliability far outweigh this.”

Among the applications is open pit dewatering where there are low pH levels in the water, as well as coastal applications where salt water and air cause rapid rusting of mild steel. Integrated Pump Rental has already successfully placed a stainless steel unit in a coastal application, where it is performing well.

“Different grades of stainless steel are used in the design, depending on which components have the most contact with the acidic medium,” he says. “A range of materials is therefore employed to suit each application, and to achieve optimal performance at the most competitive cost.”

This custom engineering is made possible by the company’s range of technical skills and specialist experience that resides in its people. This in-house expertise includes draughting, fabrication and pump assembly, making use of coded welders and qualified boilermakers. Depending on the application, the stainless steel build can be supplied on a road trailer or with a site trolley.