LIFECYCLE APPROACH WITH OEM PARTS FOR SUSTAINABLE PUMPING SOLUTIONS

Capital equipment like pumps operate only as well as their components and wear parts allow, so it makes little sense to risk this performance by installing a replicated part.

“Mining and other industrial applications rely heavily on continuous operations to reach the productivity levels that make them profitable,” says Marnus Koorts, General Manager Pumps at Weir Minerals Africa. “This productivity is in turn the result of decades of partnership with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like Weir Minerals, who provide much of the technological foundation underpinning a mining operation.”

Koorts emphasises that the lifecycle cost of key equipment like pumps is many orders of magnitude higher than its upfront capital cost – as they all need a high standard of maintenance that matches the quality of their initial manufacture. As long as the equipment performs to expectation, it will contribute to the mine’s success.

“What is often not fully understood, however, is that OEM spare parts are as carefully designed and manufactured as the core equipment itself,” he explains. “As an OEM with over 150 years of field experience, we have deep insights into how our parts perform – and can confidently provide our customers with performance predictions and service intervals.”

These promises that an OEM makes become the basis of its long term partnerships with customers, he says, and allow the mining industry to effectively mitigate operational risk so that mines succeed. By contrast, a replicated part is a reverse-engineered product that tries to look the same as the original, and must simply fit in the appropriate space.

“This is where the similarity with the OEM part ends,” argues Koorts. “The performance and longevity of the replicated part can seldom be guaranteed, and this undermines the principles of risk mitigation and productivity that the mine is trying to achieve.”

Weir Minerals’ original spares form an essential part of the journey that it walks with customers toward sustainability and commercial success, he explains. While the efficiency and robustness of the parts reduce mines’ energy consumption and carbon footprint, the sustainability efforts of Weir Minerals also contribute to improving customers’ Scope 3 emissions.

“Having a parts supplier with a concerted sustainability commitment – including the use of renewable energy in many of our facilities – further assists our customers in reaching their strategic corporate objectives,” he concludes.

DEWATERING LEADER OFFERS GROWING RANGE OF PUMPING SOLUTIONS

With its solid technical expertise and market experience in dewatering, slurry and sludge pumping solutions, Integrated Pump Technology has proved its capacity to support the highest quality pump brands.

Its offering recently grew from its established range of Grindex and Faggiolati submersible pumps to include the well respected Godwin range of diesel driven pumps. Justin Bawden, Key Accounts Manager at Jet Park-based Integrated Pump Technology, explains that this adds considerable value to customers – as the pumping business is all about matching the right pump to each specific duty and application.

“The Godwin range of diesel powered pumps is a great boost for customers wanting to deploy a robust pumping solution in locations where electricity is not available,” says Bawden. “As important as the quality of these pumps, though, is our ability to support them to the demanding standards set by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM).”

To service its submersible and diesel driven ranges of pumps, Integrated Pump Technology boasts a modern technical workshop and warehouse which ensures that customers experience quick access to the equipment, servicing and spare parts they need. He highlights that the company’s active network of distributors around southern Africa visit customers regularly to offer support and technical advice.

“We are pleased to now be able to offer the diesel driven option too, allowing customers to conduct pumping operations in areas where there may be no electrical power supply,” says Bawden. The versatile Godwin range extends from entry level units reaching heads of 15 metres and maximum flow rates of 200 m3 per hour – right up to large units pumping to 180 metre heads and achieving flow rates of 1300 m3 per hour.

The company is also the Southern African distributor of the world class Grindex submersible pump range, and among the smart features of the Grindex pumps, which range from 0,42 kW to 90 kW, are extra protection such as phase rotation and phase loss to avoid overheating. There is also high chrome, wear resistant material in the slurry pumps to extend service life. Included in the company’s pump offering is the Faggiolati pump range which addresses important specific applications as it can be flameproofed, and can also be fitted with chopping impellers to deal with fibrous material in water.

IN-HOUSE ENGINEERING EXPERTISE GIVE MINES VALUABLE FLEXIBILITY

With its well established design and manufacturing capabilities in South Africa, Sandvik Rock Processing delivers customised and standard vibrating equipment solutions, including screens and feeders, to customers that enhance future flexibility.

Gideon de Villiers, Engineering Manager at Sandvik Rock Processing, says the company has built its success on decades of field experience – and the nurturing of its mechanical and metallurgical engineering skills base. Its 21,000 m2 facilities, in Johannesburg South Africa, house modern workshop and testing facilities that are ISO 9001:2015 accredited and produce world class solutions for global markets.

“A key aspect of our design philosophy is to ensure that our customers can be more agile when their operational demands change,” says De Villiers. “This allows cost effective modifications to be made relatively quickly, without unduly disrupting production.”

He emphasises that this is possible due to the depth of vibrating equipment related expertise that the company has developed, where in-house mechanical and metallurgical experts can come together to find screening and feeding solutions. It is also thanks to the far-sighted initial design of Sandvik Rock Processing’s screens, which carefully take into account the opportunities for future modification.

“There are various technical complexities to consider when creating a design that allows future flexibility,” he explains. “Achieving modified results with an existing machine – rather than replacing it – means a more sustainable solution with less waste. At the same time, the new design must accurately match the new requirements, which we can test and validate using technology like Finite Element Analysis (FEA).”

He notes that efficient design and engineering also make use of cutting edge software and tools such as  advanced CAD and CAE solutions  allows for sophisticated modelling, analysis and prototyping.

“We attract, retain and nurture some of the best skills in the sector, and encourage continuous improvement through training, academic programmes and specialised professional conferences,” says De Villiers. “We also collaborate with universities, research institutions and laboratories to promote cutting edge research and innovation projects.”

A recent success for an iron ore mining customer in the Northern Cape saw Sandvik Rock Processing extend the life of the mine’s scalping screen deck from six weeks to six months – by stiffening the frame and improving the panels’ rubber compound.

AUTOMATION FOR SANDVIK SURFACE DRILLS

Making mines safer and more productive has long been the strategic intention of mine automation, and surface drill rigs are now part of this technological evolution.

According to Kabelo Nkoana, Business Line Manager for Automation and Digitisation at Sandvik Southern Africa, AutoMine® is available for Sandvik i-Series models in the company’s intelligent range of down-the-hole top hammer and rotary blast hole drill rigs. Mining customers in southern Africa have been embracing the functionality, and reporting positive results.

“Sandvik AutoMine® system essentially replicates the machine control system to enable remote automation over the mine’s Wi-Fi network,” he says. “There is an awareness that safety could be compromised when rigs are operating close to a highwall, or when there are unstable geological conditions on the bench. Automating a drill rig in these conditions is an important contributor to safety.”

Sandvik’s i-Series machines come standard with features such as the onboard data collection unit technology for engine operation and other major components. Various operational and machine health data from the sensors are collected in the OEM’s Knowledge Box, and transmitted to cloud storage for analysis and real time reporting to support informed and accurate decision making. This creates the foundation for the automation process, which also enhances reliability and performance.

Nkoana explains that the machines’ extensive sensing capability – where it is picking up valuable data about its working environment – allows it to operate autonomously within its design limits.

“This means that it will respond quickly to changes in its drilling conditions – in the properties of the rock it is drilling, for instance,” he says. “By not exceeding its limitations, its operating behaviour will extend the life of consumables and components, generally leading to a lower total operational cost.”

Having been in operation for over two decades, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions’ AutoMine® system today plays an integral role in making mining safer and more efficient. It is installed in more than 100 mines worldwide, with a positive impact on safety. The automated equipment operating AutoMine® system has logged more than five million Lost-Time-Injury-Free (LTIF) hours.

The company is also incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into its next generation AutoMine® system solutions, with the launch of its concept loader and underground drill. These innovations make use of perception-sensing technologies to detect obstacles, and can make decisions about its movements when there is a person or other manual equpment in their proximity.

Nkoana highlights that mines in southern Africa are gradually moving toward ‘smart mining’ through digital monitoring and control, as well as automation. The process, however, needs to be well planned and gradual – with all stakeholders buying into the successful implementation of the concept.

NEXT-GEN SLURRYSUCKER FOR SILT-CHALLENGED WATER AREAS POWERED BY TOYO

Not only does IPR’s SlurrySucker dredging system effectively clean process water ponds, return water dams or other water storage areas, it has become recognised as an ideal solution for cleaning water capture areas where silt is an issue, or where water retention and water holding capacity is being threatened. Some of these areas are environmentally sensitive and must be protected from causing any pollution.

Taking this innovative locally manufactured product to the next step, IPR recently launched its new generation unit – the SlurrySucker MK III. This powerful dredging system now incorporates the world renowned Toyo heavy duty slurry pump, making it the most efficient and cost effective electrically powered floating dredging system available on the market.

This is according to IPR Managing Director, Lee Vine, who says that the benefits of the SlurrySucker extend well beyond improving mines’ environmental footprints. “Bodies of water such as ponds, lagoons, dams and canals should be considered valuable plant assets and must be maintained to maximise their operational efficiency and contribution to optimised operational performance,” he explains.

“This is where the SlurrySucker has continued to deliver without fail, assisting our customers with some of their pressing issues including the need to increase water storage capacities, the recovery of minerals and improving process water quality,” he continues.

Equipped with Toyo heavy duty slurry pumps, the SlurrySucker MK III boasts enhanced solids handling capabilities. The pumps are fitted with robust cutter fans or agitators, facilitating the management of larger particles. Moreover, they can effectively handle slurries with a high specific gravity (SG).

Commenting on the effectiveness of the SlurrySucker MK III, Vine says the unit can be sized to meet an individual plant’s slurry removal requirements in terms of particle size, aggregation, distribution, cohesiveness, flow characteristics, sedimentation rates and specific gravity.

He is quick, however, to point out that while desilting or cleaning of settlement ponds may seem like a simple task, it is not always as straightforward as it would initially appear. Cleaning these facilities can become an onerous task, as it involves the pumping of high solids materials from the facility being desilted and should an incorrect system or equipment that is not fit for the task be specified this could cause issues including environmental harm.

“Historically many operations have used manual excavation methods for desilting and cleaning, but our established track record has proved that this is not only inefficient, but it often fails to remove the required volume of sediment,” Vine says.

There are several ways to accomplish effective desilting, but it has to be done effectively and cost efficiently, and this is where IPR’s skilled and experienced team comes into play. The best option, according to Vine, is a site visit to assess the application requirements and conditions.

“In some instances, it is possible to pump the high solids material to another nearby dam or reservoir. However, this is sometimes not possible and in this type of scenario we implement an alternate solution such as capturing and storing the content in specialised geotextile bags while the water is separated from the solid material,” he explains.

Once the actual condition of the dam or pond has been assessed the decision can be made as to how to proceed. The SlurrySucker itself needs sufficient volume of water on which it can be floated, and should there be areas where this is not possible, then a hydro-mining solution is applied to these drier areas.

“What is also important is that we can effectively ensure mine and industrial water contaminated sites do not negatively affect surrounding areas and being equipped with remote controlled height adjustment of the primary slurry pump and dredge head assembly allows the SlurrySucker to operate without causing damage to plastic liners in dams and settlement ponds.

Vine highlights two product options – the Maxi SlurrySucker which is capable of moving 250 m³ an hour at 20% to 30% by volume – equivalent of approximately 70 dry tons per hour. The Mini SlurrySucker® operates at 100 m³ an hour, again at 20% to 30% by volume for roughly 30 dry tons every hour.

The SlurrySucker comes standard with a galvanised frame structure and IPR’s flexible design provides the option for stainless steel with polyethylene and UV-stabilised pontoons.

In conclusion, Vine says that the opting for the SlurrySucker option is also far safer as the barge itself can be operated remotely from a defined distance away from the dam or pond edge. This is much safer than having equipment and personnel on the dam.

LITTLE CHEER FROM BUDGET SPEECH, BUT CONSTRUCTION RESILIENT – AFRISAM

It was a sombre tone at this year’s annual AfriSam Budget Breakdown event, but sales and marketing executive Richard Tomes reminded stakeholders that the company’s 90 years in business should be an inspiration that the construction sector remains so resilient.

AfriSam’s Executive Chairman Eric Diack agreed the company had seen many ups and downs, and hailed the Johannesburg event as an important forum for AfriSam and its stakeholders to gain vital insights to chart the path forward.

A regular contributor to the Budget Breakdown, Econometrix Chief Economist Dr Azar Jammine highlighted that the construction and building industries were still in the doldrums, with little sign of emerging from it soon. Dr Jammine pointed to the low economic growth rate and the poor level of gross fixed capital formation as the key culprits of the challenging milieu. While the Budget Speech contained a theoretical commitment by government to focus on infrastructure, there was not much to boost confidence.

He noted that private sector capital investment in South Africa had shown some improvement, but this was mainly in machinery and equipment. Investment in construction – including civil engineering – and building had declined 40 to 45% over the past decade. The slight recovery in residential building between 2020 and 2022, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, had faded.

“This is horrific, and there is little sign of it recovering,” he said. “The big loser is in the commercial space, which has fallen by 80% in terms of plans passed.”

Employment in the construction industry also continued to drop, and isnow 40% down from 2019 figures. The sector’s contribution to national employment is today only about 4,5%, having been over 6,5% around 2017.

“No other sector in the economy has been performing as badly,” he said. This was also reflected in the retail sales at builders’ merchants, which now ranked as the weakest segment of the retail sector.

Dr Jammine reiterated that crime was also a central factor in holding back progress in the construction industry, and was encouraged by the Business Leadership South Africa’s workstreams to work with government on energy, transport and crime.

“I don’t need to remind members of this audience of the debilitating effect that the construction mafia are having,” he said. “I only hope that government will listen to the private sector and involve them more in finding the solutions.”

With the ‘semi-gration’ of many South African professionals to the Western Cape, he noted that this province had recently taken the lead over Gauteng in terms of residential building plans passed. There had been a slight rise in numbers in Gauteng recently, however, which may point to a revival.

According to Richard Tomes, AfriSam Sales and Marketing executive, the insights from Dr Jammine confirmed that the construction industry will remain under pressure for some time.

“However, what we can learn from AfriSam’s 90-year legacy is that the industry is very resilient,” he said. “Over the past 90 years we have seen good times, and we have also survived through extremely tough times.”

He said he believed the construction sector – as with AfriSam – will come through this challenging period and will continue to create concrete possibilities for South Africa.

“As AfriSam, we look forward to being the construction industry’s partner of choice through thick and thin,” he said.

MODULAR SUBSTATIONS POWER SOUTH AFRICA’S DATA CENTRE BOOM

Data centres are experiencing significant growth in South Africa as the digital revolution continues to gain momentum. To keep up with the demand, these facilities must have the flexibility to expand rapidly when needed, as must the substations that provide them with power.

David Claassen, Managing Director of Trafo Power Solutions, says that modular substations have emerged as a perfect solution for accommodating the expansion of data centres over time. “Typically, data centres start with large structures that are only partially equipped with servers and related equipment, usually about 30% to 40%. The strategy is often to set up a cost effective facility to serve the initial customer base and expand the infrastructure as this base grows,” he says. “Modular substations offer the advantage of scalability, allowing data centres to start with the required number of substations and add more as demand increases.”

Data centres operate around the clock, demanding reliable and uninterrupted power. They employ backup systems like diesel generators and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) to ensure continuous operation. These backup systems can also be scaled up by adding additional units as needed.

Claassens says speed is of the essence in planning, constructing and expanding data centers since earlier operation means quicker revenue generation. “Modular substations are the preferred choice due to their quick design and construction capabilities, with the repetitive nature of manufacturing facilitating rapid production, and economies of scale in material requirements.”

Dry-type transformers and medium voltage switchgear are typically provided in data centre substation solutions provided by Trafo Power Solutions. These units step down incoming medium voltage power for low voltage servers and ancillary equipment on racks with the substations designed to seamlessly interface with other aspects of the data centre including low voltage distribution, medium voltage switchgear, UPS systems, and the overall control and monitoring system.

Efficiency is crucial for data centre success, as these facilities consume substantial electrical power. Trafo Power Solutions contributes to efficiency by designing and manufacturing energy efficient dry-type transformers with some of the lowest losses globally. These air-cooled transformers require minimal maintenance compared to conventional oil-filled transformers, reducing operational costs and minimising downtime.

Trafo Power Solutions has been involved in various data centre projects, ranging from 1 MW to 60 MW, supplying up to 20 modules for each project. They have also been involved in a  data centre project in the Netherlands, where they are supplying three 22,5 MVA, 50 kV/13.8 kV dry-type transformers being used in the intake substation, demonstrating their expertise in delivering customised solutions to meet unique project requirements.

WOLF WIND FARM PROJECT ADVANCES SWIFTLY WITH CONCOR

Work is progressing well on the Wolf Wind Farm in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province, with Concor carrying out the civils balance of plant – including an innovative design for a steeply inclined concrete road to the site.

The contract, which is being tackled in a consortium with Murray & Roberts company OptiPower for developer Red Rocket, will see Concor building 17 foundation bases for wind turbine generators on a ridge in the Klein Winterhoek mountain range. Concor Contracts Manager and Lead Project Manager for the consortium, Stephan Nel, explains that the bases are for two sizes of turbine: there will be five 6,2 MW Vestas V162 turbines – the largest in South Africa – and twelve 4,5 MW V163 models.

“The foundation bases for V162 turbines measure 22,5 m in diameter, while the V163 foundations are 21,2 m,” says Nel. “The larger bases will consume over 650 m3 of concrete each, with the slightly smaller bases taking almost 600 m3.”

Concor is conducting over 180 000 m3 of bulk earthworks for the base excavations and roadways on site – which includes 15 km of access road to reach the 17 wind turbines.  A total of 100 000 m3 of rock will be blasted during the construction of the project. After cleaning, a concrete lining is applied and specially designed anchor cages of steel reinforcing bar – weighing either 64 t or 70 t dependent on the base size – are installed.

Concrete from the batch plant at the foot of the ridge will – like all other wind turbine components and related equipment – have to traverse a steep 18% incline gradient to reach the top of the ridge where the turbines will be located. He highlights that this challenge required an innovative solution that could be rapidly executed.

“In collaboration with the client, consultants and specialist service providers, we designed a concrete roadway that could be constructed using the slipform method,” he says. “The 1,100 m roadway, measuring 7 m wide, was completed in January this year, paving the way for the on-schedule execution of the project.”

Among the challenges in the road construction was designing a concrete mix with a 35 slump – to prevent the poured concrete from moving on the slope – that would still be workable for the required window period. Nel notes that high daytime temperatures of 36 degrees C and above aggravated this issue further.

“After considerable planning, investigation and trialling, a solution was developed to allow the slipform paver and the cement trucks to operate on the steep incline, and to lay down the concrete road as planned,” says Nel. “The road was continuously poured at an advance rate of about 200 m a day, consuming some 1,600 m3 of concrete – reinforced with anchor beams and intermittent steel bars.”

PIONEERING CRUSHING AND SCREENING SOLUTIONS FOR CLEANER ENERGY MINERALS

Pilot Crushtec’s crushing and screening solutions are key for a wide range of applications within the energy minerals sector, and the company has built a significant footprint in these industry segments. Wayne Warren, Sales Manager Africa at Pilot Crushtec, highlights that the company has crushing and screening equipment operating successfully in lithium, cobalt, manganese, nickel, copper and graphite operations in the region.

“The flexibility of our mobile and modular equipment allows customers to tailor solutions to match diverse ore characteristics and processing plant requirements. This adaptability is crucial, especially when dealing with variations within the same commodity category, like lithium ores that differ in behaviour,” he explains. 

Pilot Crushtec’s equipment selection also considers material abrasiveness, minimising equipment wear by bypassing crushers when necessary. Their mobile equipment often includes pre-screening options as standard, reducing the need for additional screens.

Warren points to one case study that involves the supply of Metso mobile Lokotrack® trains for lithium crushing, where production requirements doubled due to high demand. In another project, modular equipment was adapted for ore sorters, highlighting the need for precision in crushing to avoid over-processing.

Pilot Crushtec continues to innovate, introducing equipment to the market like the versatile Metso Lokotrack® LT200HPX™ mobile cone crusher and the Metso Metrix remote monitoring system that is fitted to these machines. These advancements improve optimisation levels and offer remote machine monitoring and maintenance assistance.

The company also supports the mining industry’s efforts to reduce power consumption and carbon emissions by offering low-emission, electrically powered equipment options.

For safety and productivity, units feature built-in dust suppression systems. Additionally, Pilot Crushtec provides a 24-hour response service and an extended protection service warranty programme, ensuring minimal downtime.

In South Africa, the company has expertise in coal crushing and screening solutions, including specialised mobile and modular crushers designed for the coal market, meeting strict product gradings.

UNDERSTANDING STANDBY, PRIME AND CONTINUOUS GENSETS

The increasing reliance of South African businesses on generator sets (gensets) to mitigate power disruptions highlights a crucial need for proper selection based on specific operational demands. Despite their growing usage, there’s still widespread confusion about how to choose the appropriate genset, often leading to inefficient and costly decisions. 

Understanding the differences between standby, prime and continuous applications is essential to optimise genset performance and longevity. This is according to Craig Bouwer, Senior Manager Gensets at WEG Africa, who explains that many customers mistakenly select gensets based solely on nameplate rating. 

“Understanding the specific application of the genset is crucial for the right selection, and the first step is knowing that genset applications are broadly categorised into standby, prime and continuous, each with distinct operational requirements,” he says. 

Standby gensets are seldom used, typically kept for emergency situations. These units have a limit on operational hours per year and a specific load factor. In South Africa, due to frequent load shedding, few gensets are used solely for standby purposes.

Prime and continuous applications are more common in the country. Prime gensets can run unlimited hours annually with variable loads, maintaining an average load factor below their maximum rating. Continuous gensets also operate unlimited hours, but with a constant and predetermined load.

Damian Schutte, Engineering Manager at WEG Africa, explains that understanding the difference between prime and continuous ratings is also critical. The load factor is a key differentiator and not the unlimited time requirement, with prime applications having variable loads and continuous ones having fixed loads.

Schutte uses a vehicle analogy to illustrate the differences: a continuous genset is like a car on cruise control operating at a steady speed within its capacity on a long-distance trip, while a prime genset is akin to a vehicle driving in the city. Standby can be perceived as racing between traffic lights. 

The choice of genset rating impacts its expected lifespan and maintenance needs. For example, continuous power may be required in mines during load shedding to supplement limited grid power, while industrial applications like workshops, with variable loads, would need a prime-rated genset.

Bouwer notes that standby power remains vital in essential service sectors for health and safety reasons, especially in environments like mines, hospitals, and data centres.

WEG Africa, as an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), uses these categories to guide customers in their genset choices, aiming to match their specific needs and expected service life. They caution against oversimplifying the selection process by just matching the total load with a genset’s nameplate rating, as this can lead to premature failure and additional costs.

“To ensure the correct choice, we work closely with customers assessing their load requirements, usage frequency and operational conditions and through this process ensure optimal genset selection,” Bouwer concludes.