Mining Business Africa - November - December 2021

Page 1

Targeting Africa’s Mining Decision Makers

Environment, Social & Governance (ESG) Risk Management for Mining Projects

In this issue...

Sustainable Organisational Performance, People Management & Operational Optimisation Bio-based Transformer Oil for Power Utilities


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Targeting Africa’s Mining Decision Makers

November - December 2021


Editor’s Note A Valuable Investment, Not Regulatory Bottleneck


Environment, Social & Governance (ESG) Risk Management for Mining Projects

In this issue...

Sustainable Organisational Performance, People Management & Operational Optimisation


Bio-based Transformer Oil for Power Utilities

Cover Image: Credit - GettyImages

COVER STORY: PG 02 Environment, Social & Governance (ESG) Risk Management for Mining Projects Recent judgments in Environment, Social and Government (ESG)-related cases indicate that in South Africa organisations in the Mining Oil and Gas (MOG) sectors have to start taking ESG reporting seriously, if ever they have been slumbering. This calls for them to seek sustainable ways of managing exposure to possible climate change litigation.



s broadly documented in this Edition, there is more spotlight by regulators and society at large than there has ever been on the commitment of organisations in the Mining, Oil and Gas (MOG) and other sectors to sound Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives. Each of these components have to be monitored and reported in great detail, and independently verified by accredited consultants with a proven track record in ESG sustainability ratings. Sanctimonious pronouncements of good corporate citizenship and do-goodism captured in annual reports and brochures no longer suffice do not suffice. In the current corporate environment, a good ESG score is worth more than a good reputation. It also has a bearing on the bottom-line of a business, both from a brand and reputation and brand and reputation management viewpoints. From a brand and reputation viewpoint, ESG scores can impact an organisation’s valuation - investors apply larger discounts on companies that have lower ESG scores. From a brand and reputation management viewpoint, it translates into a competitive advantage affecting the cost of capital and cost of debt of a company. Clearly, the meticulous planning and execution that goes into achieving good ESG scores should not be viewed as an unnecessary regulatory bottleneck, but a valuable investment.

Nick Barnes

TEAM Editor Nick Barnes +27 10 055 3356 Web/Sub-Editors Jimmy Swira + 27 10 055 3356

Susan M. Sales and Marketing Winnie Sentabire +27 83 530 6832 | +27 10 055 3356

Anita Anyango

Angeline Ntobeng + 27 078 322 5938 + 27 010 055 3356

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FEATURE Environment, Social & Governance (ESG) Risk Management for Mining Projects

Risk of ESG-Related Litigation Real, Not Perceived Recent judgments in Environment, Social and Government (ESG)-related cases indicate that in South Africa, organisations in the Mining Oil and Gas (MOG) sectors have to start taking ESG reporting seriously, if ever they have been slumbering. This calls for them to seek sustainable ways of managing exposure to possible climate change litigation.

One of Eskom’s coal-fired power plants

By Jimmy Swira


ossil fuels are a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Nevertheless, the reality is that in countries like South Africa, the energy mix is not evenly diversified, as the renewables sector is still at the nascent stage of development. Even the country’s Minister of Energy, Gwede Mantashe, is on record admitting this: “We are not a developed country. We do not have all alternative sources.” For this reason, South Africa faces no choice but to continue depending on fossil fuels, in this context, mainly coal for power generation. The obligation and the challenge Given this situation, the obligation is on producers in the Mining, Oil and Gas (MOG) sectors to go all-out in ensuring a steady supply of coal for the country’s coal-fired power

stations. On the other hand, the producers are expected to comply with Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting requirements. Nonetheless, as they specialise in a product that is ranked the highest source of pollution, they face the risk of possible ESG-related litigation (poor sustainability and climate report). This is the fear three lawyers from Webber Wentzel, a legal firm that specialises in the African resources sector, point out in a review they have compiled. The three - Merlita Kennedy, Garyn Rapson and Tobia Serongoane raise this point in a review: ESG-Related Litigation Looms for Mining, Oil, and Gas Companies, briefly referencing what they regard as the bind that Eskom, Sasol and Seriti resources find themselves in. To appreciate the context and the need for organisations to take a proactive approach

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better, it is essential to examine the situation at Sasol and Seriti and the recent judgements in ESG-related court cases. Where Sasol and Seriti Resources stand Sasol has a record of failing to meet climate disclosure requirements that have been created to align companies with the Paris Agreement on climate change. A global report, which benchmarks companies against nine key indicators, found that Sasol’s emission reduction targets fell short of meeting appropriate standards. Seriti Resources, Eskom’s biggest coal supplier, could be facing a class action lawsuit aiming to secure compensation for occupational diseases suffered by more than 1 000 retired coal mineworkers. Thus, to manage the risk of possible

litigation, the review suggests that in their approach, the three organisations, and indeed others in their similar line of business, should seek practical ways of striking a balance between meeting their respective business mandates and ESG requirements. Courts take a strict approach While some dismiss referencing the situation at Sasol and Seriti as akin to a storm in a tea cup, recent developments strongly indicate that ESG reporting is a matter not to be taken lightly. If the recent rulings are anything to go by, organisations have to start taking ESG reporting seriously. In two cases, EarthLife Africa Johannesburg v Minister of Environmental Affairs and Others, relating to the Thabametsi Power Project and Khanyisa coal-fired power station, the High Court in Pretoria set aside approval. The rulings showed that South Africa’s courts have taken a strict approach towards upholding the requirement for regulatory approvals to meet the requirements of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. “The courts have taken a robust prospective approach to the environmental aspect of ESG. What remains to be seen is ESG-related Social and Governance litigation and how courts will deal with those issues in the context of ESG. We expect test “S” and “G” cases to be brought in the near future,” the review predicts the rulings setting a precedent.

Managing exposure to climate change litigation Bearing in mind that the risk of litigation is real not exaggerated, as can be seen from above mentioned judgements, the onus is wholly upon respective companies to limit exposure to climate change-related claims. So, the review advises organisations to take the following concerted steps: • Ensure that all ESG / Sustainability targets are backed up with baseline data and that any reporting against achieving these targets can be supported by hard evidence; • Ensure that boards understand the risks of climate change and that they can defend any claims of breach of fiduciary duties / duty of care provisions for failing to take the effects of climate change on the business seriously; • Involve legal counsel at an early stage to ensure ESG compliance with reporting and disclosure requirements and to avoid any ESG-related disputes; • Conduct environmental and human rights due diligences; • Point out possible exposure to liability under a changing ESG regulatory landscape and involve legal counsel at this stage to mitigate such exposure; • Beef up standard-form contracts to include climate-change and sustainability linked clauses. Should any disputes be foreseen at this stage it will be beneficial to involve

legal counsel to manage them; In the event of a breach, involve legal counsel in crisis management and to assist in the resolution of any ESG-related disputes; Undertake a feasibility study to see whether corporate structures and operations have the necessary resources and expertise to handle any ESG matters that may arise; and Move beyond treating ESG as a tickthe-box exercise to ensuring robust governance and accountability at board, management and operational level and integrating material ESG factors into strategic decision-making.

Striking a balance in judgements


he willingness of courts to embrace new arguments and establish new precedents in climate change litigation is commendable, but there are two points to note, the review indicates. Verdicts reached in cases should be closely monitored and balanced against the rights and protections already afforded by both domestic and international law, the three legal dons posit. This is given that such claims could be a precursor for action against private sector parties. Besides, a balance must be struck between ESG and the economy. Without an economy to fund ESG initiatives and to support a government in regulating ESG, ESG becomes nothing more than a buzzword. Ultimately, companies, including state-owned entities, should maintain a cautious approach to ESG and should involve legal counsel at every step of the way.

Involving legal counsel Companies should involve legal counsel under the following circumstances: 1. 2. 3.

4. In the mean time, South Africa will continue depending on coal for power generation

When attempting to comply with their ESG requirements with a specific view to avoid disputes; When ESG-related disputes are foreseen or threatened, to manage such risk; When ESG-related disputes are brought to the attention of such companies with a view to resolving such disputes; and, most importantly; and When an ESG-related dispute has been resolved, in order to ensure that such a dispute never recurs.

Mining Business Africa | November - December 2021 3

FEATURE Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) Risk Management for Mining Projects

Turning Risk into Competitive Advantage “Mining companies can turn the risks that Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) issues pose on their operations into competitive advantage through improved reporting on key materiality factors which impact the sector, impact investors and other critical stakeholders. Active management of critical ESG reporting will translate into positive investor sentiment and ultimately into long-term sustainable returns. Credible data from reliable ESG ratings can support well-informed business decisions which, in turn, will allow sustainability to materialise into an invaluable asset. Data analytics provides management and the Board with a tool to assess its internal capacity and risk appetite, thereby allowing it to set its risk tolerance levels based on budget, available resources and strategy.” The above represents a snapshot of the advice from the experienced team at Risk Insights (Pty) Ltd to mining companies in South Africa and in the region. The team is equipped with the first machine learning and Artificial Intelligence ESG sustainability rating tool - ESG GPS. The tool provides a consistent, transparent and independent view of a company’s rating against its competitors in the country while presenting multidimensional by factor analysis on E, S and G. By Jimmy Swira


indings of the latest Ernst and Young Survey allay any misgivings – if they had been any - that mining companies in Africa may have had about the significance of sound management of Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) to the long-term sustainability of their operations. The survey, Top 10 Business Risks and Opportunities for Mining and Metals in 2022 Report, highlights that top global mining executives rank Environment, Social and government (ESG) as the number one amongst risks and opportunities businesses will face over the next twelve months. The results were drawn from data collected from a yearly survey involving over 200 global mining executives. Others in the top three are decarbonisation and Licence to Operate (LTO). Interestingly, LTO topped the list in the 2021 report. The report resonates with the viewpoint of Mr Andrey Bogdanov, Principal and Interim CEO of Risk Insights (Pty) Ltd, a Johannesburgbased boutique professional risk management data analytics firm. Risk Insights has extensive experience and expertise spanning fields as diverse as capital markets, risk management and data science. The firm`s professional Data Science Lab using cutting edge techniques has built the first AI-powered machine learning ESG

rating tool for Africa by Africans. In 2020, the company was awarded the prestigious World Economic Forum Award in Agile Governance. Risk Insights provides ESG sustainability ratings to diverse clientele across the Globe. Four aspects in reliable reporting Risk Insights notes that ESG reporting is a relatively new requirement in South Africa as well as across the continent, although the mining sector, especially large blue-chip entities, have had ESG policies and reporting embedded in their operations for several years. For this reason, Mr Bogdanov says the firm is keen to utilise its Data Science Lab comprehensive data sets to address growing requirements of mining companies for international best practices in ESG reporting, their materiality disclosure and ranking within their respective peer groups to assist in positioning mining companies to fully materialise competitive advantage related to ESG as the world moves toward carbon neutrality. He is certain that, through comprehensive reporting, mines can formulate and implement strategies which will make their operations more sustainable going forward. Specifically, he cites three fundamental aspects which can facilitate reliable ESG reporting: the leading role of the board and management (top-

4 Mining Business Africa | November - December 2021

down approach); the business re-engineering process; and engaging experienced experts, as ESG is a complex subject matter. •

The board and management at the forefront ESG reporting must be detailed, relevant, material, transparent and easy to track to be credible, and so, it is not surprising that it takes up more time and resources. Accordingly, Bogdanov recommends that, for ESG reporting to be more embedded in an organisation’s operations, its setup must follow both ‘top-down’ and a bottom-up approach. “ESG should be driven from the board and management level into the entire organisation and entrenched into the culture of a company while education needs to be provided to all levels in the organization,” says Mr Bogdanov, underlining a mindset change as a critical process, as it can determine the effectiveness of ESG’s aligned strategies and policies. • Business engineering process Successful ESG reporting relies on a rigorous business engineering process, which culminates into the change in the culture of an organisation. ESG affects several parts of an organisation’s value chain, to name a few, supply chain

management and measuring carbon footprint Scopes 1, 2 and 3 (both direct and indirect emissions). Specifically, what is reasonable from four perspectives – the company, the industry and the employee and society. Certain processes within the mining company may be responsible for more emissions and therefore to assist reporting and impact the trade-off charts using data analytics for measurement and monitoring could differentiate one mining company against another. Robust business engineering processes result in strong, transparent and effective reporting thereby mitigating risk and creating opportunity and competitive positioning. ESG reporting is translated in the integrated reports as well as voluntary and mandatory disclosure of companies. • Engaging credible experts Given the complexity of ESG and its impact on the various stakeholders and the value chain, engaging and employing specialists with a credible track record in the field is key. Hence, it is critical to engage specialists who can train, develop and educate on ESG matters and ensure embedding it into the organisation on all levels,” advises Mr Bogdanov. One of the risks that Risk Insights has noted in South Africa is a repurposed approach when it comes to appointing individuals on ESG related positions which have very little experience or training on ESG. Core business imperative, not an option Indeed, all told, the importance of sound ESG reporting in the current operating environment cannot not be overstressed as the world devises strategies to protect the planet and contribute towards carbon neutrality. Ongoing developments have rendered sustainability into a core business imperative, and not an option. • Stakeholder accountability Increasingly, stakeholders are holding mining companies accountable for environmental and social practices (or malpractices). “Miners need to be able to demonstrate their contribution to a sustainable future, and the most practical way is through sound management of ESG issues,” comments EY Africa energy and natural resources leader, Wickus Botha, referring to the growing prominence of sustainability as revealed in the recent survey amongst global company executives.

Direct bearing on bottom-line What makes ESG rating more relevant is its bearing on the bottom-line of a business. From a brand and reputation perspective, it translates into financial measurement through share price and market capitalisation. For instance, ESG scores can impact an organisation’s valuation. Impact investors apply larger discounts on companies that have lower ESG scores. “Having a good ESG score means that a company embeds the principles of inclusivity and stakeholder management into its strategy, operations and human capital management making a company more sustainable. It translates, via brand and reputation management viewpoint, into a competitive advantage affecting the cost of capital and cost of debt of a company,” Mr Bogdanov points out. • Positive legacy Finally, by doing more to ensure the long-term, sustainable economic and social growth of the region in which they operate, mining companies can leave a positive legacy beyond the life of the mine. Prioritising ESG more By and large, the burden is on mines to turn the risks that ESG factors pose to their operations into competitive opportunities and positioning to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable business practices. Risk Insights would like to see “South African leadership actively translate value as conscious leadership into good for current and future generations. Leadership must pivot to change the world and the ways we operate when it comes to CO2 emissions, water pollution, taking care of communities, inclusivity and much more. Mining is one of the closest to earth industries”. The timing for mining companies to enhance their commitment to sustainable business practices could not have been better, as recent global events indicate. COVID-19 pandemic has caused social inequalities in regions where mining companies operate, in addition to disasters in different regions linked to climate change. These events, amongst others, have reinforced the need for mines to go beyond their ‘traditional’ regulatory obligations and drive social equality initiatives, asserts Botha.

Mr Andrey Bogdanov, Principal and Interim CEO of Risk Insights (Pty) Ltd, a Johannesburg-based boutique professional risk management data analytics firm

Risk Insights has blazed a trail with Africa’s first machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) ESG sustainability rating tool - ESG GPS. So far, ESG GPS has been used to rate all listed companies in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.

Mining Business Africa | November - December 2021 5

FEATURE Mobile Plug & Play Photovoltaic Power Generation Plants

Cost-effective, Customised, Flexible, Fast-track Hybrid Power Through the model of Release by Scatec, Scatec, a Norwegian headquartered and globally focused renewable energy company, has demonstrated a most suitable power solution: a flexibly financed, plug and play photovoltaic hybrid power facility. Encouraged by the successful installations of its photovoltaic and battery power generation products, the company aims to roll out more projects in Africa.

Release by Scatec is much more affordable, and it does require solid integration with the existing power systems


s mining companies in Africa are adding renewables, like solar photovoltaic, to their energy mix, they need flexible financing terms to ensure that a power plant does not become a liability due to financial constraints in the short or long term. Besides, the plant has to be available within a short time, as any delay in delivery may be costly. For instance, a power deficit or outage may interrupt production and result in loss of productivity.

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Relating to financing, the conventional system that is fixed for the lifetime of the equipment of more than 25 years is not an attractive proposition as it may be out of kilter with the current priorities of mining companies. Also, new trends indicate that new greenfield mining projects have a shorter life-of-mine. All the more, given the process it requires, it may be time-consuming from design, construction, and commissioning.

Most suitable solution Fascinatingly, based on the success of delivering a project in Africa, Scatec, a renewable energy company, demonstrates that the most suitable solution would be a flexibly financed plug and play photovoltaic power plant. Bunty Kiremire, Release by Scatec’s Application Lead for Africa, affirms that Release is well-equipped to roll out similar projects to potential clientele in Africa. The company has noticed that demand for renewables for mining projects in remote areas is increasing. Kiremire tells Mining Business Africa how, through a unique ecosystem, differentiated from others in the energy production market. It supplies re-assembled and containerised solar and battery equipment. Well-placed to deliver Kiremire guarantees that the Release is more well-placed to meet the mining industry’s suitable renewable energy needs. “Our strengths position us to tackle the needs of clients in Africa, combining three elements: a flexible and high-quality product; a customisable renewable hybrid solution; the turnkey structured approach; Long-track record; and Fast-track delivery. •

Flexibility and high-quality product Flexibility and adherence to quality assurance are amongst Release’s strengths that have made the company stick out from the competition in

the line of mining-orientated renewables. Release has become synonymous with flexibility. Most flexibly and straightforwardly possible, the company strives to offer reliable and renewable power for miners as a service and the opportunity to reduce risk with a prefinancing package. Whilst solar and batteries are ordinarily high CAPEX exposure or a long term PPA commitment for the mine, the company offers this as an OPEX. Typically, a rental contract provides the ability for shorter contracts of 5 years which can be relevant for a customer with a limited life-of-mine. Nevertheless, going the extra mile, Release offers flexibility throughout the contract period regarding changes in capacity. “Mining operations face changes in power requirements over time. Hence, in this environment, we believe it makes sense to use modular equipment and contract through one simple rental agreement that can be amended, rather than the less flexible PPA commitments with several parties and financiers,” explains Kiremire. Quality is another area where Release by Scatec does not compromise. The state-of-theart technology the company uses is the same as the one for large-scale utility projects of more than 400MW. “We believe we are the only internationally renowned company that offers this combination of flexibility and quality through a proven track record.”

A customisable renewable hybrid solution Scatec offers a renewable hybrid solution, which is specifically customised for clients’ needs. Generally, a renewable hybrid solution (Release by Scatec) is much more affordable, and it does require solid integration with the existing power systems to ensure reliability and resilience. So, to solve this challenge, as regards mining operations, Scatec discusses battery solutions with hybrid controls. “Whilst our solar PV offering is standardised and modular, the battery and integration is very customised to every customer. We partner and work with premium suppliers of battery integration solutions to offer the right solution to every project. Each situation requires different applications and equipment, and the suppliers have different solutions and performance parameters,” says Kiremire. The Release by Scatec’s engineering team runs thorough techno-economic sizing analyses, power system stability and technical design assessments, using various software packages to optimise the technical solution. They are carried out to ensure the highest quality delivery from Scatec and the chosen technology partner, from equipment specification, system configuration, control system architecture and logic, and overall system performance. Working with the customer ensures that the best input data on the current and future load requirements and the installed power system

Release by Scatec’s complete solution scope is structured in the form of an extensive turnkey

Mining Business Africa | November - December 2021 9


The Scatec team of engineers can deliver and install a plant within a short time on site.

infrastructure at the site is obtained. In this way, the company ensures that its complete offering solves the main challenges of the customer. • The turnkey structured approach Release by Scatec’s complete solution scope is structured in the form of an extensive turnkey, spanning performance and availability guarantees, monitoring, and spare parts to ensure a straightforward interface for the customer. • Long-track record Clients engage Scatec with the knowledge that they are hiring a company with critical know-how. The company has the advantage of tapping on its diverse experience to deliver a solution to the client. It has built a long track record of working in remote areas of Africa, a region where it has established itself as the largest solar and hydropower developer. In addition, it leverages extensive experience as a global company to grow the niche technical and commercial offering of the Release model in Africa.

to come. The company firmly believes this will augur well with its plans, increasing demand for Release. “We want to be in the forefront of this shift and want to offer our customers the best commercial and technical solutions. Many customers have already started, but with recent surging oil- and gas prices, we believe this shift is coming quickly,” vows Kiremire. Elaborating further on growth, Kiremire states that Scatec, as a multi-technology, is continually broadening its horizons beyond Release, exploring and delivering solutions in diverse shapes and forms in solar, hydropower, wind, and batteries. An example would be the 540 MW solar and 1.2 GWh battery project in South Africa for a firm and dispatchable power over 16.5 hours a day. Interestingly, this was awarded in competition with all other technologies, including thermal, illustrating the power of renewables and what Scatec can offer clients.

• Fast-track delivery With relevant experience and using standardised, modular and movable equipment, the Scatec team of engineers can deliver and install a plant within a short time on site. • Prospects for growth Looking ahead, Scatec predicts mining and petrochemical sectors in Africa, going through a significant shift to renewables, in recognition of reliability and cost reduction, over the years

10 Mining Business Africa | November - December 2021

Plug and Play for hydrogen production at Mogalakwena Platinum Mine


elease by Scatec signed a two-year lease agreement to supply a 616 Kw plug-and-play solar PV to Engie for a hydrogen production plant project at Anglo American Platinum’s Mogalakwena Platinum mine in Limpopo Province, South Africa. The hydrogen pilot project is at a mine that may be expanded or moved to a different location. And so, based on this uncertainty, Engie and Anglo believe that the flexibility of the lease agreement is preferable. Release was recommended in assisting in driving the Green Hydrogen agenda, as it is crucial to source reliable renewable power to supply the electrolysers and hydrogen production. Every project is closely evaluated to optimise the use of electrolysers and see how energy can be sourced reliably and cost-effectively from different sources (solar, wind hydro and batteries) through a hybrid solution. With changing markets and technologies, a flexible sourcing strategy can make sense for many customers.

Turn key solar for Mining Release by Scatec offers a unique eco-system for solar in mining. We are a reliable risk manager, with affordable leasing agreements of pre-assembled and containerised solar and battery equipment. Perfect for the mining industry in Africa.

Guaranteed performance and availability

Solar trackers and bifacial modules for high efficiency

Release guarantees equipment performance and availability

Producing 30% more power than traditional fixed systems at same installed capacity

Quick deployment and installations

24/7 technical support and monitoring

Standardised, pre-assembled and containerised equipment reduces design- and installation time

24/7 support from our Control & Monitoring Centre in Cape Town

FEATURE Low NOx emission burner technology

Cost effective Emission Technology, Improved Compliance By implementing the low NOx burner technology, industrial equipment supplier, Heaton Valves Africa ensures that furnaces in mines emit less Nitrogen oxide in line with current and future emissions stipulations. Recently, the company introduced Zeeco Combustion’s GB single-jet burner to the Southern African market.

Valves Africa’s Product Manager (Combustion Division), Grant Douglas, sees the effectiveness of GB the single-jet burner in minimising oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions enabling mines to achieve compliance. This is especially when the new combustion installations that the Act necessitates are to be made. The Air Quality Act sets new combustion installations to be met, Douglas explains. “Furnaces with a design capacity equal to or greater than 50 MW heat input for new plants must amount to 400 mg/Nm3 under normal conditions of 10% O2 and 1 700 mg/Nm3 under normal conditions of 10% O2 for existing plants.” This implies that existing furnaces have to be replaced with conventional ultra-low NOx burners. However, the sheer cost and cumbersome process involved would render that to be impractical.

GB-single jet low NOx gas-fired burner


ndustries, mining companies specifically, should view investment in emissions reduction technologies as a necessity and not a grudge purchase. Recently, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) new air quality guidelines (AQG) substantiate this notion. The AQG includes nitrogen oxide as one of the six classical pollutants, after evidence establishing health hazards arising from its exposure. The other pollutants are: particulate matter (PM), ground-level ozone (O3), lead, sulfur oxide (SO) and carbon monoxide (CO). Demand for Cost effective emission reduction technologies Several countries have passed various pieces of legislation in line with the AQG. On its part,

South Africa passed Air Quality Act, which is aimed at obligating industry to reduce Nitrogen dioxide emissions. Thus, in order to comply, mining companies should be investing in cost effective technologies which can enable them to reduce Nitrogen oxide emissions produced from their plants and equipment. GB single-jet burner minimises NOx emissions After noticing that complying with the Act Quality Act would be a challenge without the necessary technologies, recently, Industrial Equipment supplier, Heaton Valves Africa introduced Zeeco Combustion’s GB single-jet burner to the Southern African market. Heaton

12 Mining Business Africa | November - December 2021

A convenient alternative Douglas says the GB-single jet low NOx gas-fired burner is a convenient alternative. Instead of replacing entire furnace floors with conventional ultra-low NOX burners, the furnaces can be retrofitted with the GB-single jet low NOx gas-fired burner. With only one fuel gas tip and/or one fuel gas riser, the GB-single jet low NOx gas-fired burner meets contemporary industry requirements. By retrofitting their furnaces with the GB-single jet low NOx gas-fired burner, mining companies are assured of the following benefits: Reduction of NOx production; High equipment uptime; and Low maintenance requirements. • Reducing NOx production Mainly, GB-single jet low NOx gas-fired burner reduces NOx production in two ways: Through flue gas recirculation and the staged combustion process. The burner unit reduces NOx emissions through its internal flue gas recirculation. The flue gas recirculation mixes gas-fired from the gas port with products of combustion, which

Thanks in great part to global pressure for industry to implement climate change policies and air quality standards, low NOx burner technology and staged fuelling have become a popular option in emission reduction. Heaton Valves believes this trend will continue as companies adopt technologies to ensure that their emissions do not breach the limit.

Effects of NOx Real, not exaggerated

lowers thermal NOx production. Through the combustion process, using stage air and staged fuel, Zeeco’s low NOX burner units reduce NOx emissions. Emissions can be reduced by up to75%. •

High equipment uptime and Low maintenance Requirements The simple, non-symmetrical design is handy as far as the process of installation is concerned. Thanks to the design, the installation process can be concluded within a short time, which ensures high equipment availability in mines and other sectors, whereas much less time as possible has to be spent on retrofitting. With slotted holes used for adjustments, the burner

retrofit can be made with the existing burner file and wind box in place. Also, the design necessitates low maintenance requirements and a simple design. Helping ‘future proofing’ furnances Douglas tells clientele in Southern Africa Heaton that Valves Africa is well-equipped to help them retrofit their combustion units with its low NOx burner technology, GB single fuel jet burner. “By implementing the low NOx burner technology, we are ‘futureproofing’ the furnaces by ensuring that less NOx is emitted, in line with current and future emissions stipulations,” Douglas says, highlighting Heaton’s capability to offer a turnkey NOx burner technology to clients.


he health hazards of pollutants are real, not exaggerated. In children, air pollutants cause reduced lung growth and function, respiratory infections and aggravated asthma. In adults, aischaemic heart disease and stroke are the most common causes of premature death attributable to outdoor air pollution. Disturbingly, there is mounting evidence of diabetes and neurodegenerative conditions. Hence, the WHO hopes that, through implementing new AQG guideline levels, countries will be both protecting health as well as mitigating global climate change. Pollutantrelated conditions claim an estimated 7 million annually.

Mining Business Africa | November - December 2021 13

FEATURE Crusher Wear parts & Mill Liners for Mining Operations

Increased Performance, Availability and Lower Maintenance Costs Growth’s high manganese steel wear liners allow crushers in mines to prevail in extremely tough conditions. A subsidiary of Growth Steel Group, the company is keen to apply its knowhow to projects in the African Mining sector. With Growth Steel Africa and Growth Steel Ghana, the regions for East- and West Africa is covered by our technical sales team. as strengths which give the company the edge over competitors: Commitment to Quality Standards; High Supply Capacity; Customised Approach; In-depth Technical Support; and cutting-edge technologies. •

Commitment to high quality standards Growth has an unflagging commitment to high quality standards, with practices and procedures carried out in accordance with up-to-date ISO standards. Furthermore, the liners undergo rapid and intense testing to ensure long-lasting quality. This speaks volumes why the company’s high manganese-, CrMo and Rubber wear liners have prevailed in extremely challenging conditions in which ordinary products faulter. • High Supply Capacity Growth has capacity to produce up to 65,000 tons of mill liners made from international standard alloy steel a year for mining companies and other industries, both regionally and globally. Hence, it guarantees that it is able to meet huge volumes of orders.

Growth’s high manganese steel wear liners allow crushers in mines to prevail in extremely tough conditions.


n unfortunate experience a mining company can encounter is production being halted at its peak, incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars – if not millions – in potential loss of revenue due to crusher and mill liner failure. Fortunately, with proper planning, timely intervention through wear protection, incidents of costly downtime mines can be averted. Growth Steel Africa, a subsidiary of Growth Steel Group, is urging mining companies to ensure that they use proven wear parts for their critical mineral processing equipment, especially crushers and mill liners. Growth Steel Africa is eager to provide its knowhow in wear protection solutions that enable mining

companies to increase performance, availability and lower maintenance costs of mills and crushers to mining companies in Africa. Being part of Growth Steel Group, an established world leader in service excellence for the design and manufacture of mineral processing equipment wear solutions, the company is well-furnished to provide comprehensive technical service to customers. The edge over competitors Growth’s high manganese steel wear liners allow crushers in mines to prevail in extremely tough conditions. Growth South Africa’s Technical Sales Specialist, Chris Muller, cites the following

14 Mining Business Africa | November - December 2021

• Custom design Growth’s mill liners are customised designed with the specific needs and operational requirements of industries in mind using the state-of-the-art technologies available inhouse. Furthermore, the type of milling applications determine which material grades are appropriate for a particular task. Muller explicates: “Whether your milling application requires impact toughness, abrasion resistance or a balance, we carefully select the chemistry and microstructure properties to be produced within our quality liners.” • In-depth technical support It is unfortunate that, some wear protection solutions providers are faulted for leaving their clients to their own devices after installation, failing to offer very basic assistance when needed the most. However, going beyond the scope of basic services, Growth ’s experienced

team’s interventions includes: Wear Monitoring and Assessment via Laser Scanning and Ultrasonic Thickness Inspection; Progressive Wear Overlay; Liner Profiling and Sectional Thickness; and Wear Prediction and Mapping. Equipped with the technologies, the technical support team can perform timely interventions, which minimises equipment downtime and ensures availability. Employing advanced software and 3D laser scan technology they are able to carry out continuous condition monitoring of installed liners in mills and accurately forecasts reline timing based on wear trend analysis. In this way, reline change out time is minimised.

technical sales team provide in-depth technical support – assess operational requirements, provide installation support and work closely with the client to optimise production throughput. Muller emphasises on the importance of having the presence of support team on site: “We understand that demands are everchanging in the mineral processing industry. As such, our experienced site support team is always on hand to provide ongoing consultations, to achieve a liner wear solution that suits the client’s changing operational needs.”

Cutting edge engineering technologies Growth’stechnical specialists utilise cutting edge engineering technologies to assess and optimise casting design and maximise product quality. The range of technologies, with the scope of expanding, includes: 3D laser scanning, 3D liner profiling, 3D Dem simulation, Computer Aided Design (CAD) and CNC pattern manufacturing. Consistently, the support team carries out assessment, measurement and monitoring of wear liners on equipment. The array of the

Ready to serve industry “Ultimately, engaging Growth Steel guarantees increased performance, availability and lower maintenance costs for crushers and mills used in mines,” Muller informs potential clientele in African mining, highlighting the company’s readiness. The company views Africa as its next growth frontier with an already significant customer base in most African countries Headquartered in Indonesia, Growth Steel Africa is also a manufacturer/supplier of rubber mill liners, fasteners, grinding media and a vast array of other products.

Growing Possibilities For the highest quality wear solutions and end-to-end service to the mining industry, regionally and globally. Our products SAG and BALL mill liners, Crusher wear parts, Forged and HiCr grinding media. Services Liner Design, DEM Modeling, 3D Mill Scan, Wear Prediction, Supply Management, Scrap Buy Back

Helping you grow your business. Get in touch. Email: Website:

Mining Business Africa | November - December 2021 15

Johannes Hübner Giessen Precision. Strength. Customer focus.

We are fascinated by technology – and we understand our customers. We stand firmly at your side with exceptional ideas and tailormade solutions. To support you, our customers, we offer robust encoder systems, powerful drive technology and worldwide service. That is how together with you our customers we overcome the huge challenges in mining industry and other fields subject to harsh conditions to sustainably improve your business.

Over / Underspeed protection and standstill monitoring

Original spareparts from manufacturer

Safe speed and position monitoring

Application example 1:

Application example 2:

Application example 3:

Over/underspeed protection and standstill monitoring at conveyor belts. Our programmable electronic overspeed switches EGS® offers you a high level of switching accuracy including at low operating speeds and many other advantages.

Speed measurement with original spare parts from encoder manufacturer for Caterpilar shovel 495HR. We provide the original incremental hollow shaft encoders with special robust shovel design, high signal quality and extra long lifetime.

Safe speed and position monitoring at hoist systems of stackers, reclaimers, excavators or conveyor bridges. Our modular and programmable universal encoder systems U-ONE® provides disturbance free signal transmission via fiber optic cable up to 1000 m distance.

We are looking forward to taking on your challenges! Johannes Hübner Giessen partner representative for South Africa Huebner Speed Monitoring (Pty) Ltd 20 Park Road, Richmond 2092 South Africa

Derek Colyn Tel: +27 11 482 0088 Cell: +27 82 442 5926 Email:


Pontoon-based pumping stations for surface & underground mining projects

Customised, Convenient and CostEffective Pontoon-Based Pumping Recently, AQS Liquid Transfer designed and delivered steel-hulled pontoons to Harmony Gold’s Dam in Welkom, Free State Province. For a long-time, the company has built quite a reputation as specialists in dewatering pumps for mines and other sectors. Now, it is replicating its success in the provision of pontoon solutions for both underground and surface mining environments.

AQS’ pontoons are ideal for the underground dams, and also used extensively in sumps on the surface for runoff water and storm water control

Cost containment’ is more than a buzzword in the current environment; it is the well-founded way for mining companies to ensure long-term sustainability for their operations. With this in mind, mining companies are continuously seeking cost-effective alternatives for conventional’ technologies or methods for their operations from pit to port. Relating to the field of pumping, increasingly, pontoon-based pumping stations are regarded as an alternative to costly civils and fixed pumping stations in some fields of applications. Perfectly placed Recently, AQS, a reputable supplier of pumping equipment to different industries, supplied its flagship steel-hulled pontoon-based pumping

stations to Harmony Gold’s Mining Project in Welkom, Free State Province, South Africa. The company is eager to deliver a similar solution to mining projects in South Africa and the region. “With our extensive experience in the provision of pumping solutions we are perfectly placed to deliver pontoons specific to open cast (surface) and underground environments,”, Howard Jones, Industrial Sales Manager, referencing the following aspects: Addressing customer specifications; Customisation of design; The scope of comprehensive turnkey solutions; and Expertise in preventative maintenance. • The approach Considering that the pontoons are used in rugged conditions, the application engineers

at AQS ensure that the specifications of both materials of construction and design are as precise as possible. Pertaining to construction, correct materials of construction are used, in conjunction with special marine coatings and anti-rust protection treatments that give an extended lifespan to the finished product, Jones expounds. “Depending on the operational requirements of the pontoon and the equipment on board, the materials of construction would either be Steel hulled pontoons for the larger applications or LDPE floats within a steel structure.” for more maneuverable solutions. Moreover, all of its designs are developed using 3D modelling allowing for site and condition simulations. This ensures that any manned pontoon is stable, safe and has enough

Mining Business Africa | November - December 2021 17


compartmental redundancy to comply with the South African Marine Safety recommendations. • Customisation of design For their pontoon requirements, AQS’ customisation of design will allow for any reasonable, respective needs of clientele. The company is able to design pontoons for both electrical pumping or diesel driven systems, which allows for use in remote areas where there is no electrical grid. Furthermore, depending on the application and site conditions,the pontoons are generally anchored off-shore which assists with unwanted tampering or security issues. If needs be, AQS is also able to provide walkways with some designs for easy maintenance and inspection. In situations where there are continuous fluctuations in the levels. Some applications require walkways which are either “fixed” to the side of the pond that swivel in the vertical plane to accommodate these fluctuations. In the longer walkway, there is a “floating” design that is anchored at three points to prevent wind and water action from moving the Pontoon around the pond. • Versatility Another aspect to be considered is the versatility of the pontoons. The pontoons are deployable in both the underground and surface mining environments. “Our smallest single stack pontoon weighs less than 100kg and is able to “float” a small submersible pump of up to 150kg.

These pontoons are ideal for the underground dams, where space constraints are an issue. They are also used extensively in sumps on the surface for runoff water and storm water control,” says Jones. “In a nutshell, the pontoons can float all types of pumps or ancillary equipment for mineral sands type mining, deep mine dewatering applications and open pit operations. •

at AQS, as a standard practice, offers vital advice to the clients on ensuring high equipment availability. “We always recommend a culture of preventative maintenance to the client who insists on keeping these maintenance services in-house. However, we also have the capability to offer an SLA to mitigate the risks relative to down time. These SLA’s are generally customised to client’s needs,” Jones explains.

Instilling a culture of preventative maintenance After commissioning and handing over the operation of the pontoons to clients, the team

‘Doorstep’ supply convenience With mining projects – both greenfield and brownfield projects - being launched, after a lull in the first half of 2020, AQS tells clients that it is well-equipped to address their pontoon needs of different magnitude. What the company’s management punt as an added advantage for potential clientele in Africa is the convenience of having a provider of pontoons locally in South Africa and easily accessible to neighbouring countries. The proximity becomes handy when it comes to attending to problems that may crop up, explains Jones. “The reduced reaction times to attending to any onsite technical issues that may arise is paramount, as it ensures seamless operation with little or no production downtime that can be very costly for the client. In addition, one of the vital aspects handled through training sessions is the importance of the correct Installation and the Operation procedures.”

Scope of turnkey pontoon solutions (total system) Since the industry, specifically mines, need a ‘one-stop’ offering for their dewatering requirements, AQS has devised a wide scope of turnkey pontoon and pumping solutions. The company’s turnkey approach to project execution covers the following areas: advising, designing, costing, selling and installing and commissioning of a total system. Suitably qualified internal staff run the project according to strict timelines and quality checks to ensure a product acceptable to global standards. The use of pre-qualified manufacturing and supply partners is required, depending on the size of the project, but the project is always run by AQS as the main supplier. “A collaborative approach is used in determining not only the clients’ needs but also the best and most economical solution,” Jones comments.

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FEATURE Sustainable Organisational Performance, People Management & Operational Optimisation

Consistently Committed Workforce, Sustainable Growth Operational Improvement Management (OIM), a Cape Town-based business consulting firm, has created an employee-centred Integrated Approach, which is turning around the performance of mining companies and setting them on the path to sustainable growth. The firm’s experienced consultants have positioned employees at the centrepiece of modernisation, with committed capable supervisors taking charge.

A mining company can only realise its plans when its employees have entirely bought into them


onsistently, mining companies, especially players in the precious metals sector, have been meeting their annual financial targets (or even in some circumstances exceeding expectations), thanks to high commodity prices. While this may make shareholders happy, it is the long-term sustainability of a business during lean times, when commodity prices are not in their favour, that the board of directors should be more concerned about. This is more especially in a situation where there is conspicuous

discrepancy in consistency between financial and operational efficiency targets. “Potentially, lop-sidedness, where financial targets are met but operational targets are not, can hinder an organisation from achieving long-term sustainable growth, and should be addressed urgently,” states Arjen de Bruin, the Managing Director of Cape Townbased business consulting firm, Operational Improvement Management (OIM). Since 1985, through their tailored interventions, OIM’s team of consultants have been turning around and

20 Mining Business Africa | November - December 2021

setting mining business on a path to sustainable growth. Leveraging workforce competences Sharing OIM’s experience, de Bruin recommends that the most practical way that can enable companies sustain growth beyond the mercy of commodities boom is focusing in an area they can manage: Leveraging competences of their workforce. So, to meet their operational targets (increase operational efficiencies), mining companies should institute programmes

Modernisation means more than simple mechnisation. It means People.

To effectively ‘modernise’ you need to align the organisation to your mechanisation strategy. Workforce morale is directly linked to leadership, and the supervisor is the most effective tool you have to ensure that your daily targets are delivered. They are the link between senior leadership and the workforce. They are the hands of your strategy. Sustainable, holistic modernisation means that organisational and cultural hurdles are addressed and overcome. We do this through leadership development and organisational performance improvement. We provide the processes to increase your profitability to create sustainable long-term value for your mining business. Contact Arjen de Bruin (OIM Consulting Managing Director) for a coffee catch-up and to set the wheels in motion to sustainably improve your performance and increase your profitability. Arjen de Bruin (OIM Consulting Managing Director) at +27 83 454 5795


One of the mines where OIM has made a noticeable difference is Gold Fields’ South Deep Mine

that are employee-centred, he indicates. “A mining company – the same would apply to any organisation – can only realise its plans when employees have entirely bought into them, are aboard and going all-out to implementing them.” Integrated Approach Thus, cognisant of the value of employees, OIM developed an integrated approach encompassing four core interventions: Production Optimisation, Supervisory Skills Development, Leadership Development and Employee Engagement. This hinges on the notion that, for an organisation’s operational efficiency to be achieved, first the mind-set of employees has to be changed. The mind-set then becomes part of business culture and the way people do things within an organisation. In the long-run, there can be noticeable business performance improvement which can translate into long-term sustainable growth. Objectives of the interventions Each of the integrated approach’s four interventions is tailored to enable mines to achieve long-term growth. • Production optimisation Production Optimisation is aimed at helping

companies to improve efficiencies and throughput, reduce operating costs and resolve operational constraints. •

The Supervisory Skills Development The Supervisory Skills Development is geared at transferring classroom knowledge to the workplace, resulting in operational improvements. De Bruin expounds on the significance of training supervisors or frontline leaders in organisations: “Workforce morale is directly linked to leadership, and the supervisor is the most effective tool in your arsenal in ensuring that you deliver on your targets. As frontline leaders, the heartbeat of an organisation, supervisors are the link between senior leadership and the workforce. Fundamentally, they are the hands of your strategy.” It is based on this, de Bruin explains, that is why the approach is centred on the role of frontline leaders in organisations. “We have realised that the successful execution of any business plan relies on supervisory effectiveness, yet organisations typically do not place enough effort on building this capability and capacity, and changing front-line leader behaviour. Thus, our process addresses cultural change, the identification and building of new

22 Mining Business Africa | November - December 2021

capabilities, and performance assessment, management and improvement, with a pivotal focus on the supervisor as key to sustaining this improvement.” • Leadership Development Leadership Development matches the right leadership talent with specific organisational needs and develops appropriate competency sets to optimise business performance. “Leadership development is about getting the right people in leadership positions. This intervention is vital as it helps mining management address the common problem of deploying wrong people in leadership positions where they are not capable enough to handle. For instance, we noticed that, sometimes, there are situations where accomplished engineers, without sufficient leadership skill sets, are appointed in leadership positions, and fail to live up to expectations,” says de Bruin. Under Leadership Development’s intervention, OIM helps companies identify and appoint employees with the relevant competences: assertive, adept at analysis and problem solving, with necessary communication skills. • Employee engagement OIM ensures that every employee in an

How OIM Turned Around South Deep Mine So far, more than 1 000 front-line leaders have benefitted from OIM’s employeecentred approach. One of the mines where OIM has made a noticeable difference is Gold Fields’ South Deep Mine. Upon successful implementation of its approach, the mine recorded positive results (40% increase in production) at the end of second half year 2019. This was a marked improvement compared with the first half 2019 after a series of negative results. Prior to that, since 2006, Gold Fields had been beset by a number of organisational challenges and setbacks. This prevented the organisation from operating as a modern, bulk, mechanised and profitable mine. To address these challenges, Gold Fields embarked on a strategic transformation, which centred on an organisational restructuring exercise, followed by a broader cultural and capability alignment process. organisation is mobilised around goals and strives to build a climate conducive to strategy execution. Employees should not be left to their own device, hoping that, somehow, by chance, they will deliver. “Usually when employees feel side-lined, they become antagonistic towards the manager. That’s why companies should not miss the opportunity to build a resilient organisation.” Continuous reinforcement (Coaching Culture) It has been observed that some mining companies engage consultants for expert assistance in a particular area and either abandon or half-heartedly implement the recommendations made. And so, to ensure that its recommendations are sustainably implemented, OIM stresses the institution of a ‘coaching culture’. “We maintain that we devote most of the time to mentoring supervisors at the coalface of operations so that they take ownership of continuing driving change upon our exit. We always emphasis that it is an ongoing process and the ball is all in their court to make it work. In this way, new skill sets can be ingrained through continuous reinforcement.” Key Performance Indicators (KPI) When thoroughly implemented, adopting OIM’s integrated approach can have massive benefits. Principally, this is manifest through

the following key performance indicators: Improved operational compliance and control, Zero fatalities, Increased Equipment Availability (reduced downtime), Visible Improvement in Quality, Labour peace and stability, High performance workplace culture, and a Reduction in unit costs. In addition, there is improvement in relationships with stakeholders like suppliers (service providers) and host (surrounding) communities. Mechanisation is not Synonymous with Modernisation Noting that mines are navigating an environment of increasing input costs, mounting compliance obligations and resource nationalism, de Bruin says that employee efficiency has never been more relevant in the face of increasing mechanisation. He acknowledges that mechanisation has led to the reduction of health and safety risks and economic benefits in some mines. However, operational inefficiencies have been registered in some of the mines with the most state-of-the-art equipment money can buy, according to anecdotal data gathered from some organisations. And this, he says, illustrates that mechanisation is not synonymous with modernisation of mining operations.

Martin Preece, Executive Vice President at Gold Fields, attests to the success of OIM’s intervention: “We’ve seen a remarkable improvement in most production metrics during 2019, resulting from a culmination of initiatives centred around our people, including organisational culture, processes, systems and technical improvements. Of course, a process supported by OIM.” The OIM team have repeated this feat in different mining projects worldwide such as mechanised, conventional, surface and under-ground mines, including beneficiation plants and smelters. Thus far, the company has built a portfolio of successfully completed projects, mainly in the blue-chip mining sector in South Africa and other African countries, Europe, Australia and the US. “As mines are positioning themselves to be agile enough to stay afloat in an unpredictable global economy, we are in good stead to render our services,” de Bruin affirms, spelling out the consulting firm’s readiness.

Mining Business Africa | November - December 2021 23

FEATURE Immersive Technologies: Operator Training

Virtual and Augmented Learning, Improved Outcomes Over the past 2 years, The Boiler Room has seen an overwhelmingly positive response across industries, in the deployment and use of immersive technologies. The reason for this is attributable to the fact that use of these technologies has resulted in operational efficiencies. One area in particular that has been impacted, is operator training in the mining sector. Looking ahead to 2022, The Boiler Room team predicts that this sector will show another year of accelerated growth.


scope of application and are easy to deploy, but he clarifies that, like with all other learning initiatives, it requires meticulous planning to successfully deploy.

safe yet immersive environment. Well-designed immersive experiences allow true non-linear game play, creating individualised player / learning experiences.

Relevance The Johannesburg-based immersive technology firm, The Boiler Room, is industry leader in the development and global deployment of AR and VR experiences. They partner with organisations to explore the concept of AR and VR, understand the advantages and resulting opportunities per industry and per organisation, as well as the value that can be gained. According to the company’s Chief Learning and Innovation Officer (CLIO) Adi Stephan, both technologies have an extensive breadth and

Convenience and speed The use of immersive technologies like Virtual Reality creates a level of convenience. This is supported by the fact that VR content is around four times faster to train with unprecedented levels of knowledge retention. It has also become one of the most effective training delivery methods. For the first time, workplace scenarios that were once too difficult or too expensive to realise, or just too dangerous to train, (for instance emergency protocols / disaster preparedness, falls of ground (FOG), heights training), can now be incorporated into practical, cost-effective simulations that are trained in a

Diverse applications AR and VR technologies have become firmly entrenched within the mining industry. In fact, this is definitely an area where immersive technologies have been ground-breaking are effectively replacing classroom training or eLearning. Applications are broad in scope and include operator training, strata control (TARP - Target Action Response Plan), digital twins, barring, operating, as well as maintenance solutions.

here they were once on the periphery of Learning, immersive technologies including augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR), are now firmly established, fully embraced, and supported by industry. As a result, the field has expanded rapidly even on the African continent.

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Scrupulous planning There is an unwritten rule in the deployment of AR/VR in mining: The desired outcome

is only as good as the meticulousness and effectiveness of the planning. At The Boiler Room, the team ensures that detailed planning goes into the conceptualisation and deployment of the immersive technologies. “When deploying these immersive technologies, we start with the end in mind. What outcomes are we aiming to achieve? What change in behaviour is required? Once we know the desired outcome, we can create the learning” Stephan clarifies. He goes on to emphasise that, apart from the careful selection of fit-for-purpose technologies and the components, it is also critical to work hand in hand with Subject Matter Experts. “We are only able to address requirements if the immersive experience is believable. To make it totally believable, we need to involve the assistance of SMEs both from the client side and our own team, providing us with site specific context and information.” Visible changes at a mine Recently, The Boiler Room provided an immersive VR solution to a mining client, with immediate and visible results. The training deployed was faster than traditional learning initiatives had been, with higher retention rates, which has made operations safer, and more successful.

Another Boiler Room example is a global OEM client where the use of VR simulators has reduced overall maintenance time by 50%. Industry response Overall, the industry’s response to immersive training solutions has been overwhelmingly positive. Organisations that engage the company have embraced the concept of immersive technologies, fully appreciating the value that this adds to their training environment. According to The Boiler Room, the positive response can partly be attributed to consumers, learners and users of the immersive technology pushing for faster adoption of this technology, says Stephan. “Learners love immersive technologies as a delivery mechanism, and studies (PwC VR study) have shown that learners are 275% more confident in applying the skills, and that learning takes place 4x faster.” Looking ahead, Stephan assures mining companies that the team at The Boiler Room are keen to apply their knowhow in immersive technologies to adding value to their operations in 2022 and beyond.

Novel developments in AR/ VR in 2022 and beyond


he last few years have demonstrated the pace at which technology has been changing, aided by new headsets being launched and the AR / VR technology becoming mainstream from a training delivery point of view. The niche market of Immersive technologies will only get bigger in 2022 and beyond, Stephan predicts: “For 2022, the concept of Mixed Reality will certainly become more prominent. The technology will become a lot more affordable, creating an entry point for the concept of mixed reality to become more mainstream.” On the Virtual Reality side, the technology is being refined, and additional functionality is being added both from a software as well as hardware perspective. With a tremendous drive towards the establishment of a Metaverse, The Boiler Room foresees VR/AR content development will be geared towards that. Functionality, being refined, includes hand tracking in Oculus, that eliminates the need for any controllers (Busy with a TARP project using hand tracking).

Mining Business Africa | November - December 2021 25

FEATURE Customised Safety Workwear for Women in Mining

Safety Wear Customised for Women’s Uniqueness “Unisex” safety footwear for example, offered by many brands, is predominantly a male offering modified with cosmetic touches to be passed off as a female offering. To address this inherent problem, SiSi Safety Wear, a subsidiary of the BBF Safety Group, in consultation with women in industry, developed a PPE range specific to women. Noteworthy, SiSi Safety Wear products are unique because they are designed to suit the specific needs of women by taking functional and ergonomic requirements into account.

A PPE range specific to women is developed in in consultation with women in industry


fforts of mining companies to create opportunities for the participation of women in fields hitherto regarded as the preserve for men are very laudable. Considerably, women are excelling, breaking the proverbial glass ceiling in various roles, contributing to the bottom-line of mining houses. However, lamentably, there are lingering concerns that conditions in the mining environment are inherently male-biased, which impacts on the productivity and safety of women. One area where this is conspicuous is in the designs of Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE), which, predominantly, are tailored for

men. This is a challenge that Sisi Safety Wear has been consistently committed to tackling, through its wide range of safety footwear, work wear and fall arrest systems. Sisi Safety Wear’s brand manager, Predahni Naidoo, explains the rationale behind Sisi Safety Wear’s specialty: “One size does not fit all. There is a distinct difference in the anatomy of men and women, and so the PPE procured should reflect this. By doing so, women can focus their full attention on the job at hand, increasing their productivity on-site.”

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Informed by extensive research From the get-go, Sisi Safety Wear’s approach has been to produce PPE informed by credible data on scenarios women face gathered from extensive research focusing on safety footwear, work wear and fall arrest systems. The company engages women in industry to get a true picture on the exact needs on the work floor. Gaps in women’s PPE Naidoo draws attention to three findings of research on gaps in women’s PPE, which have been gathered from over the years, that have shaped the company’s PPE designs.

SiSi Safety Wear products suit the specific needs of women both functionally and ergonomically.

• Safety footwear Research with women in industry, in consultation with a specialist podiatrist, indicated that shoes created for men are not suited for a woman’s foot, which is naturally much narrower. Mostly, when it comes to footwear, a shoe that does not fit may negatively impact the wearer’s productivity in the short-term, leading to injuries in the long-term, Naidoo states. “When women are made to wear poorly fitted shoes, their feet often oscillate from side to side. Over time, the oscillation puts strain on the ankles, which leads to strain on the knees and subsequently strain on the hips. This can in turn cause back pain and other issues.” “In the case of women with narrow heels, the potential of slipping out of the boot is a daily risk, counteracting the sole purpose of wearing safety footwear. Most women require safety footwear designed specifically for the shape of their feet to ensure they are both comfortable and secure,” she proceeds.

Boiler suit specific to mining Another challenging situation which women encounter is when they are on duty underground. In that environment, performing basic bodily functions whilst wearing a boiler suit holds significantly more challenges for women. It becomes all the more complicated when it comes to using a toilet. Given that a toilet can be up to 400m away from a blast site, women

often have a long walk just to reach the ablution facilities. Then, due to the nature of the boiler suit, a woman still needs to remove her safety equipment and then unzip and remove the entire boiler suit before she can use the facilities. To make matters worse, when a woman has her period, the time taken to get to the toilet, as well as the unbleached colour of her garment can result in visible accidents, embarrassing a woman in front of her work colleagues. Clearly, women needed a boiler suit that works to make ablutions and periods easier to deal with.

Fall arrest systems Besides, women encounter challenges when it comes to using fall arrest systems, as, naturally, they have a more pronounced chest area then men. Consequently, when women wear a fall arrest system designed for men, the chest strap is uncomfortable and can actually cause further injury to a fall. “If the chest strap is placed below the bust area, polyester webbing (typically found in male harnesses) can aggressively rise up and over the bust at the end of a fall, which can result in secondary injuries to the wearer,” Naidoo demonstrates. “There is an interesting insight that we have gained from consulting with women who wear fall arrest systems designed for men, especially those with large bust areas. It is that the chest

strap often sits underneath their bust area further accentuating their breasts amongst a largely male workforce.” Recognising that there is a huge spotlight on compliance with the mine health and safety Act in mining, Sisi Safety Wear vows to continue its quest of ensuring that mining companies have a steady supply of women’s PPE in 2021.

The latest Innovation: Basi Metaguard Safety Boot


ith its latest innovation, Sisi Safety Wear is pleased to launch the Basi Metaguard Boot, the first locally produced metaguard safety boot for women. The Metaguard Protector is primarily designed to protect the bridge of the foot from falling rocks and other hazards prominent in the mining industries. Naidoo regards the release as well-timed. “There is a serious lack of technical safety offerings for women, with many companies still issuing their female staff safety wear designed for males. With the growing number of women entering the mining sector specifically, it was important to develop a solution for women against these types of hazards that can also occur in other industries.”

Mining Business Africa | November - December 2021 27

FEATURE Bio-based Transformer Oil for Power Utilities

Safer and Environmentally Friendly Transformer Insulation As long as organisations in industrial and mining environments continue upgrading their electrical transformers, there will be an increase in demand for safe and environmentally friendly bio-based transformer oil.

Automation technologies are also opening doors for remote working


n South Africa, the state-owned power utility, Eskom, is now using natural ester bio-based (derived from renewable vegetable oils) dielectric insulating fluid in its power and distribution transformers for the electrical grid as an alternative to traditional, petroleum-based mineral oil. This was after the organisation identified an eligible supplier following a rigorous tendering process. This initiative is in part of the move towards sustainability and safety (to ensure that its operations are environmentally friendly and safe), the organisation claims. A global trend Eskom is following a global trend, where power utilities are switching to (or at least including

in their product preferences) bio-based fluid alternatives (in this context, natural ester transformer fluid) to traditional petroleumbased fluids in existing and new transformers. This is not a fad, but driven by necessity - meeting a realigned business mandate informed by sustainability and safety, as The Transparency Market Research for the Global Bio-based Transformer Oil Market indicated. And so, made from 100 per cent renewable vegetable oil, vegetable oil, natural ester fluids have numerous benefits, increasingly, it is being appreciated for the following attributes: Environmentally friendly (green), Offers improved safety and superior performance.

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Environmentally friendly Bio-based oil is regarded as environmentally friendly as it is non-toxic, non-hazardous in water and soil, and can biodegrade in less than 28 days. Besides, bio-based transformer oil does not contain silicone, petroleum hydrocarbons, and halogens.

Safety Increasingly, industry - and the power generation is no exception - is under more pressure to improve safety in its operations. From a transformer oil perspective, renewable vegetable oil offers a viable alternative, as it has a high safety ranking, as it is resistant to fire, electricity and heat.

Probably the world’s coolest transformer fluid

With the introduction of NYTRO® BIO 300X, Nynas adds the first product in its new bio-based range, completing its portfolio of high-performance transformer fluids. NYTRO® BIO 300X is the result of years of intensive research. We are now able to offer a 100% renewable hydrocarbon with superior performance according to IEC 60296.A true innovation.For more information visit our website or contact your local Nynas sales office.


Superior performance Mineral oil becomes unstable at high voltage and heat, leading to premature degradation of the oil. This can result in reduction in the life of the transformer. However, bio-based transformer oil offers superior performance as compared to mineral oil, as it is stable at high voltages and temperatures. On the whole, renewable vegetable oil provides longer insulation life expectancy for the transformer and increased load capacity. Dominating the market It would be considered a stretch to claim that bio-based oils will entirely replace traditional petroleum-based oils soon. Nonetheless, it is certain that they are destined to dominate the market in a world in which sustainability and safety are now universally viewed as core to business ethos. The Market Survey predicts a market on a growth trajectory, due to demand in the distribution transformer segment. Power utilities in countries will embark on projects to expand the distribution network across the globe due to the increase in demand for electricity. Additionally, from an end-user perspective, the industrial market will lead the market due to the rise in industrialisation.

On the other hand, do not overlook the impact of COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic has not spared the global bio-based transformer oil market. Temporary shutdowns effected during lockdowns have halted transmission and distribution projects across the globe. With the current unpredictable trajectory of events, in as far as COVID-19 is concerned, nothing is cast in stone, though. Overall, as long as organisations in industrial and mining environments continue upgrading their electrical transformers, an increase in demand for safe and sustainable bio-based transformer oil (mainly natural ester transformer fluid) is likely to be witnessed. The main stumbling block to the adoption of bio-based transformer oils, though, could be cost. This is because, compared with mineral-based oils, biobased oils cost an arm and a leg. Nevertheless, presumably, power utilities will consider that the benefits to be had from bio-based oil switch outweigh the cost in their procurement decisions, as South Africa’s Eskom has shown All things considered, decisions by utilities on carrying out generation and T&D investments may depend upon the capital availability and financial conditions.

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Global Bio-based Transformer Oil Market

• •

Synthetic Ester Transformer Oil Natural Ester Transformer Fluid

Global Bio-based Transformer Oil Market, by Application

• •

Power Transformer Distribution Transformer

Global Bio-based Transformer Oil Market, by End-user

• • •

Residential & Commercial Industrial Utilities

Source: The Transparency Market Research

FEATURE Drilling Technologies

The convenience of automated drilling Automation has made drilling tasks cost effective, safer and more efficient in ways deemed barely credible over twenty years ago.


t seems OEMs of drilling machinery are sparing no effort in seeing to it that their product aids end-users in different industries to realise the objectives of reducing operating costs, reducing emissions, improving efficiency and enhancing safety. This is if the current trend, where OEMs are automating some features of their machinery, is anything to go by. One type of machinery where this is prominent is in drill rigs. This is a niche market where Sandvic Mining and Rock Solutions is one of the OEMs that have released drilling technologies that have been extensively referenced. Vanessa Hardy, business line manager surface drills at Sandvik Mining and Rock

Solutions, has been noticing client’s preferences for machinery. She says what the company has seen is that end-users are embracing automated technologies due to the benefits they offer from the viewpoints of productivity, cost-saving and safety. She highlights various innovations in automation to improve the performance of drill rigs, specifically: one touch buttons for the operator in the cab to improve accuracy and performance, the drill rig being able to level itself before operation, to automatically bring the drill up into a drilling position, and to auto-collar the drill. Moreover, equipped with on-board technology, the operator can set, store and recall operating combinations for different drilling

applications. All the more, a certain predefined combination of rotations, pressures and other variables can be implemented at the push of a button. Automation technologies also open doors for remote working, where an operator standing on the bench while watching the rig, or working from a control room far from site. Through remote operations, mines keep the operator out of harm’s way and enhance comfort, above and beyond raising the performance of a machine. Generally, based on the aforementioned features, automated drilling technologies improve the operator’s safety, improve productivity in drilling tasks and reduce costs.

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VIBRAMECH: In-depth understanding of what it takes to design, manufacture & maintain dependable vibrating equipment


ibramech, southern Africa’s largest manufacturer of vibrating mineral processing equipment, is synonymous with quality, reliability, and robust vibrating equipment. “We engineer solutions for each client’s unique mineral processing requirements. Our current installed base of over 10 000 pieces of equipment makes us the South African leader in market share. We are proud to be the preferred supplier of vibrating equipment to project houses and mines in southern Africa, and we have earned the reputation of being an OEM that designs and manufactures robust and durable screening equipment,” explains Vibramech MD, David Massey. This proud reputation is a consequence of continuous technological innovation over four decades. This has cemented its status as an OEM of utterly dependable equipment, not only

in southern Africa’s mining industry (which is considered to be among the harshest and most aggressive environments in the world), but also throughout the world. Vibramech supplies its equipment primarily to mining and mineral processing industries across the globe (Africa, Europe, Asia, Australasia, North and South America), and has extensive experience in gold, diamond, coal, iron ore, manganese, platinum, chrome, nickel, uranium, copper, mineral sands and aggregate operations. Vibramech has developed a comprehensive range of multislope (or Banana) screens, horizontal and inclined screens, dewatering screens, grizzly feeders, pan feeders, tubular feeders and grease tables, which are operating in processing plants, ocean vessels and underground mining operations. “Our design practice makes use of Finite Element Analysis

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and Strain Gauge Analysis to prove structural integrity, with detailed attention paid to wear protection and commonality of components to minimise spare parts inventories,” explains Vibramech MD David Massey. The technically curious might find this interesting: a. To appreciate the basic working principles of vibrating equipment, a basic analogy of a mass-spring system can be used. The stroke on this system is obtained by dynamic force generated by pairs of eccentric masses, rotating synchronously at the same angular velocity, but in opposite directions (i.e. by using geared exciters or vibrator motors). b. Frequency (rpm) and stroke of vibrating equipment are selected based on the specific processing duty required, with

typical acceleration ranging from 3 to 5G, with 740 to 1440 rpm. “VIBRASURE”, brings cutting edge technology to the mineral processing industry. a. Vibrating equipment plays a crucial role in minerals processing, and is widely used for classification, dewatering, medium recovery, scalping, trash removal, grading and desliming. Due to this crucial role, early fault detection, diagnosis and analysis become important to continuously reduce and eliminate costly, unscheduled downtime and unexpected breakdowns. b. To ensure the optimal operation of its vibrating equipment, Vibramech has launched Vibrasure which is an online condition monitoring system. This has enabled Vibramech to provide continuous vibration monitoring of the equipment operational parameters, such as vibration frequency, stroke, angle of the motion and temperature to detect and diagnose machine faults. c. Vibrasure employs structural and bearing sensors designed with the latest technology. All sensors are IP69K rated and have long-life integral batteries that can withstand the harshest of conditions. d. Vibrasure reports key parameters to a cloud based platform, and those values can be trended over time and provide significant benefits to optimise the performance of vibrating equipment. This further enhances the already robust and reliable equipment that Vibramech supplies world-wide and provides its clients with the additional comfort of knowing that any deviations in equipment performance will be picked up by Vibramech’s engineers via Vibrasure.

Measuring vibration & conducting a modal impact test, to verify the simulation results.

As sound dynamic behaviour is essential to ensure vibrating equipment reliability, all equipment is built to perform within strict dynamic parameters. All internal mating surfaces are machined in order to maintain stringent dimensional tolerances. In addition, the company’s quality assurance programme makes provision for a full 3D vibration analysis to be conducted on all equipment prior to release. This is used as a benchmark for the life of the equipment. “Our equipment needs to withstand the high wear associated with the screening of abrasive ores such as chrome, platinum and iron ore. We also have a range of speciality liner materials, paint specifications and wear prevention compounds which are used to combat the effects of corrosion in the marine and refinery

applications. Vibramech even offers the option to install a screen in stainless steel,” explains David Massey. The Vibramech design makes extensive use of rubber lining to reduce the effect of wear and impact on screen components. A range of steel, ceramic and polyurethane liners are available to protect screen and grizzly side plates, as well as feeder pans. An abrasion resistant / Anti-corrosion Epoxy Resin System is used to minimise wear associated with fines in wet applications. “It is imperative that stresses induced by welding are minimised to prevent crack formation in vibrating equipment,” Massey says. Vibramech therefore makes use of heat treatment to stress relieve all welded screen components. The overall design philosophy is to minimise welding and maximise the use of swaged fasteners. Vibramech ensures a robust equipment design that will provide many years of reliable service, resulting in lower operating cost and reduced down time. Please visit Vibramech’s new website at for an overview on how Vibramech could assist with your current and future mineral processing requirements.

17 Chenik Street, Chamdor, 1739 P.O. Box 3026, Witbeek, Roodepoort, Gauteng, 1729 Tel: +27 11 762 5501 Email: Simplified analytical model of a vibrating screen and subframe.

Mining Business Africa | November - December 2021 33

FEATURE Mineral Exploration

Technologies Changing the Game Digital exploration, AI and deep learning systems are just what mineral exploration projects need in Africa.


he development and application of technologies and techniques, which is broadening tools and capabilities that can be employed in minerals exploration, could not have come at the right time. It has coincided with a period when there is growing concern that the ore bearing rock is

hard to come by/hard to find. But, as it is emerging, it is a result of using technology that is falling short of coping with new challenges. Revolutionising mineral exploration Speakers from diversified backgrounds who were at a recent

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Webinar on Modernisation’s Role in Boosting junior mining in South Africa, hosted by the Minerals Council of South Africa are optimistic about the future of mineral exploration. The analysts rave about technologies which they foresee revolutionising the way mineral exploration is carried out. They are certain that the technologies will bring much needed efficiency in the exploration tasks that are proving too difficult to execute using traditional methods. Amongst the bring up interesting points are technologies that enable digital exploration, as well as AI and deep learning systems. Digital exploration Diversified metals explorer Orion Minerals CEO and Minerals Council Junior Miners Leadership Forum chairperson, Errol Smart, observes: “Digital exploration, enabled by light detection and ranging (Lidar), satellite mapping, magnetic and gravity inversion sensing, is important for exploration, as the speed and efficiency with which these tools can gather data has increased dramatically since their initial development often decades ago.” The high resolution of light detection and ranging (Lidar), satellite mapping, magnetic and gravity inversion sensing, and using cloud technologies to interrogate massive data sets are changing things, added Smart.

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Encouragingly, regions that are using these capabilities are discovering new orebodies almost every week.” South Africa stopped exploring for new deposits decades ago and missed the boom in exploration that happened worldwide during the 1990s, which led to several countries’ mining industries growing rapidly,”

AI and deep learning systems AI and deep learning systems are two areas that are opening opportunities for exploration projects, open innovation company, RIIS CEO, Davis Cook, observes. Results gathered from other regions in the world indicate that they can be successfully utilised in reanalysing existing datasets and cadastres to identify new orebodies and create efficiency in the initial search locations. For instance, in Australia AI and deep learning systems have identified potential deposits after successfully reanalysing data. Largely, by bringing efficiency, the technologies will eliminate some convoluted processes involved in mineral exploration which result in increasing cost and safety risks. Besides, it will ensure that South Africa does not miss out on the global exploration project boom, as it did in the 1990s, due to lack of suitable tools and technologies.

FEATURE Electrostatic Precipitators for Mining Equipment

Cleaner and Better Air Quality, Compliant Mines GEECOM, through the provision of Electrostatic Precipitator solutions, enables organisations in mining and other sectors in Southern Africa ensure that air emissions from their plants are compliant with the legal threshold in respective countries (in South Africa’s context this is The National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, 2004 (Act No. 39 of 2004).

GEECOM’s Electrostatic Precipitator solutions enable industries to reduce emissions from their plants


ith the world feeling the effects of climate change, there is an increased burden on industry to do its bit in environmental conservation through the adoption of technologies that contribute to cleaner and better air quality. Through its extensive expertise in the provision of customised electrostatic precipitator solutions, GEECOM has been at the forefront of this drive by helping mining

companies ensure that particulate emissions from their plants are within the permissible legal threshold. With a team of vastly experienced application engineers and equipped with innovative environmental control technologies, the company is well poised to play its part in seeing to it that operations of its clientele remain sustainable. “We are keen to help industry comply with evolving compliance requirements

through the provision of electrostatic precipitator solutions,” affirms Gustl Mischkulnig, Managing Director of GEECOM. “We can guarantee that we are more than capable, and our track record in Southern Africa speaks volumes about our capabilities,” he adds, highlighting how the company’s customised approach and the convenience of a turnkey offering have helped companies to meet statutory challenges.

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FEATURE new performance tests to indicate either the client’s compliance or non-compliance with the statutory regulations. Once such evaluations are completed, various techniques based on formulas specific to Electrostatic Precipitators are used to evaluate the requirements for the possible upgrade of existing plant or implementation of new plant leading to full compliance with dust abatement requirements. Each solution is evaluated individually and a relevant outcome is tailor-made to meet the client’s specific application.

GEECOM created a solution tailored at meeting every client’s unique requirement

Challenge of statutory requirements As far as reducing emissions levels goes, the experiences of every client in mining are unique. However, they all boil down to meeting statutory regulations relating to The National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, 2004 (Act No. 39 of 2004) in South Africa’s context. The Act stipulates allowable particulate matter emission levels for each industrial process. “Based on normal non-compliance, the Client is required to either reduce relevant production or apply

for permission to implement applicable dust abatement plans. Most Industrial Processes are required to meet particulate matter values of 50 mg/Nm3,” states Gustl. GEECOM’s solution As every client’s need is unique, what works with one client may not always apply to another. So, GEECOM created a solution tailored at meeting every client’s unique requirement. The company’s solution involves providing technical evaluations based on previous or

Convenience of a turnkey service Recognising the complexity of the process of reducing emissions, as far as contemporary industry needs are concerned, GEECOM offers the convenience of a turnkey solution, which is customised to the respective needs of clientele. “We are a South African company with 100% local input in terms of Design, Engineering, Manufacture, Supply, Installation and Commissioning, with proven successes in many projects. Consequently, we are to provide a onestop, turnkey application with highly effective solutions specific to each project,” Gustl says. Reducing downtime Downtime to electrostatic precipitators is the least desirable experience, but it is inevitable and it is entirely upon a mining company to minimise its occurrence. Cognisant of this, GEECOM, through its offering, ensures that clientele take a proactive view regarding minimising downtime. The company has introduced many mechanical and electrical product innovations which are seen as extremely beneficial, not only for the provision of required results but also to the general operation and maintenance of proposed Electrostatic Precipitators. It also guarantees the client of efficient and extremely rapid after sales services which results in minimum plant downtime most of the times. Last but not least, it presents Electrostatic Precipitator training courses, which ensures that the Client is made fully aware of every particular part of the plant, its operation and maintenance processes. Meeting client’s project expectations As you would have thought, clients are very particular about their needs and there is little – if any - margin for error, as compliance is obligatory. Therefore, GEECOM endeavours that the electrostatic precipitators are delivered according to the client’s project expectations. For this reason, the company’s application engineers undertake the following steps: Ensuring that the initial technical evaluation is sound; Relevant solution is implemented accurately; Installation is carried out by technical personnel who are experienced in Electrostatic

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Precipitator technology and commissioning. Furthermore, optimisation is addressed by specialists with many years of experience in the particular field of technology. Also, with 37 years of operation, GEECOM has a vast knowledge of Electrostatic Precipitators based on accumulated field specific know-how. This is passed on to the client at all times, which contributes to successful relations based on mutual partnerships rather than mere ‘clientsupplier ‘arrangements. Compliance with the Air Quality Act Gustl warrants that engaging GEECOM for their electrostatic precipitator requirements ensures that mines meet the legal particulate matter emission levels, complying with the Air Quality Act. “Mines are able to reduce the risk of environmental damage or improve the collection of product residues, and are assured of a plant which is relatively easy to operate and maintain,” he says. Engaging GEECOM for their electrostatic precipitator requirements ensures that industries meet the legal particulate matter emission levels

Minimising Postcommissioning Downtime


he team at GEECOM go all-out to ensure that Electrostatic Precipitators installed work with minimal downtime. Without doubt, the most practical ways of minimising unwanted downtime they have adopted is ensuring that technicians, operators and maintenance personnel are fully trained to address any unusual events or actual failures. “The training courses provide the backbone of this first line of action by the plant’s staff during unusual events. GEECOM also provides full and rapid support either via telephone or actual visits to site to address all technical issues.” Besides, post-commissioning interventions are carried out regularly to address optimization processes which may be required due to plant process changes or other different requirements. Both mechanical and electrical support is provided by in-house staff fully trained in Electrostatic Precipitators. Last but not least, inhouse manufacturing in a fully equipped factory environment enables spare parts to be made available at short notice in a fully equipped factory environment. The factory is dedicated specifically to mechanical as well as electrical products, elements and systems for Electrostatic Precipitators.

Continuous improvement – Research & Development (R&D)


ecent regulation necessitates that mining companies should meet emissions threshold at all costs. For GEECOM, this means constant improvement to its current technology to cope with demand for Electrostatic Precipitator solutions. Its Research and Development Department is continuously looking at possible improvements to applicable equipment and elements with special emphasis on product life-time as well as system advancements. Also, a fully sized and operational Electrostatic Precipitator is installed at its premises, which allows for on-time evaluation of specific requirements or planned improvements. So far, based on this R&D, various enhancements have been introduced which have already been proven as resulting in benefits to the continued use of Electrostatic precipitators in any industry. Some of these are as follows: • Collector Electrodes (Plates) manufactured from Stainless steel which provide for very smooth surfaces for highly effective removal of deposited dust during rapping actions; • Discharge electrodes of the Rigid mast type which address higher power intensities and larger electrical

field coverage by means of perfect compatibility geometry; Swing arm technology for higher vibration distribution of rapping forces applied to Discharge Electrodes Direct line rapping systems for Discharge electrodes eliminating quick wearing elements such as lifting arms and cams; and Power and control systems of conventional type (50 Hz), mediumfrequency as well as High Frequency which provide application of higher power inputs to Electrostatic Precipitators resulting in increases in efficiency and therefore lower emission levels.

Gustl. concludes, “In general, Electrostatic Precipitators supplied by GEECOM continue to offer a highly efficient and cost-effective solution to the reduction of particulate matter at many industrial sites. Moreover, unlike other dust abatement processes, the normal operating costs are relatively low and improvements can be easily introduced, as and when required or made available by the relevant technology developments.”

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Manufacturing of Collector Electrode plates using continuous Roll-Forming machine

Electrical test field using in-house Electrostatic Precipitator unit

Corona effect at Discharge Electrodes

Collector Electrode Curtain (Stainless Steel Plates)

Installation of stainless versus mild steel plates

Testing of rapping impact on Collector Electrode plates

Electrostatic Precipitator upgrade using sectionalized roof boxes

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FEATURE On-Line Technology for Continuous Measurement Concentration of Individual Chemical Elements

Accurate Data, Improved Recovery Cross belt analysers can help mining companies in Africa get real value from their mineral ore through accurate data, gathered continuously on-line in real-time on concentration of individual chemical elements at all stages of mineral processing. Crucial decisions can be informed by accurate data, improving recovery and reducing ore going to waste – all while acutely focused on Net-Zero targets and real reductions in carbon emissions. Clearly, this necessitates for mineral processing companies to adopt alternative technologies whose efficacy has been thoroughly tested and consistently proven in rugged conditions. Interestingly, there is ample evidence suggesting that there are immense opportunities to be had for minerals and mining operations in adopting continuous, real-time, sensor-based devices for their ore grade assessment requirements.

The AllScan can be installed above a conveyor


ncreasingly, lower quality grade ore is being found in mining projects. While this is entirely out of their control, practically, what minerals and mining companies can manage is continuously seeking ways to increase efficiency, reduce cost, waste and emissions, and improve safety in their operations from pit to port. Usually, pertaining to mineral processing operations, small improvements, if carried out scrupulously, cumulatively, can yield substantial gains. One of the avenues worth exploring is in techniques that can aid earlier collection of data on concentration of individual chemical elements at all stages of mineral processing.

Then, the data gathered can give plant operators a better understanding of ore variability, which can be utilised to make informed decisions on improving efficiencies in process control for better metal recovery. Ultimately, valuable concentrations of metals would be recovered and prevented from going to waste, making processing lower grade deposits more efficient and economically viable. The need for alternative technologies Doubtless, conventional sampling methods, inherent with their shortcomings, would fall short of meeting contemporary expectations.

The AllScan produces detailed insight of process performance

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Installed over a belt, the devices measure mineral concentration levels, as well as other characteristics such as mineral species, continuously in real-time. At the onset, the significance of real-time, continuous online analysis can be better grasped when one examines the limitations of conventional sampling methods and their impact. Information from some of the leading suppliers in the field suggests that online analysers are filling the gap, and one would not hasten to state that it could just be the thing for industry – especially given a current focus on increased yield and efficiencies against a backdrop of sustainability and NetZero targeting. The drawbacks of traditional sampling There have been a number of case studies in which the comparison has been made to establish the reliability of traditional sampling methods, on the one hand, and real-time, continuous analysis, on the other, in capturing data on variability of chemical composition of coal at a coal washery in Australia. Without question, amongst more recent studies, one whose findings have been referenced in global involved a conventional sampling method and Real Time Instruments’ AllScan, cross belt ore analyser. The AllScan employs Prompt Gamma neutron activation analysis (PGNAA), which penetrates through the depth of the material on the conveyor belt. In PGNAA, a neutron, based above or beneath the conveyor, generates neutrons that are absorbed by the material to reveal its elemental spectra.

Continuously, it measures what is on the belt through the cross-section, the full width. The findings indicated that the AllScan excelled, producing detailed insight on process performance, the required data of ore on the conveyor belt consistently. On the other hand, the traditional sampling method fell short. In the most part, the traditional sampling method was erratic, producing patches of data of a limited scope, which, if utilised, could result in wrong decisions, leading to valuable concentrations of metals going to waste. This is the last thing a mining company would expect to experience. In an industry, where accuracy is the currency, techniques that rely on guesswork are a definite no-no. Continuous, Real-time analysis: Convenience and Accuracy Recognising the comparative advantages that real-time continuous, online analysis brings and the possibilities that it has opened, it is not surprising that the technique is gaining traction in the mining and mineral processing sectors. The main benefits which the technology offers are convenience and accuracy. • Convenience Cross belt analysers are convenient - scanning the material on the rock continuously, sending readings rapidly to process control and production management systems. Sometimes, if needs be, the data can be stored in the cloud for future retrieval. Above and beyond, the data can be sent to the mine, so that necessary adjustments to the mining operations can be made, if necessary.

is inconceivable to waste resources exporting inferior grade ore while an appropriate process could have been employed to forestall the lapse.

• Accuracy Ultimately, the online analysis can eliminate sample preparation errors caused by inherent bias common in conventional sample-taking methods. This ensures accuracy and integrity of the data gathered. Additionally, it decreases the total volume of samples that would have had to be taken within processing plant sections. Opportunities for application Ongoing research and development initiatives promise more opportunities opening up exploring the application of continuous, realtime, online analysis. To date, the use of online analysers, with reference to the AllScan, in ensuring that the ore from one stage to another is within specified parameters far earlier than other instruments has been ground-breaking. The AllScan can also be used in slurry analysis - measuring the elemental concentration of the slurry as it passes through its measurement zone. Usage in the back end of mineral processing, though not very common, merits highlighting. For instance, the analysers can be used in grade control, in particular, ensuring that only premier grade ore is shipped to markets. It

Industry uptake As you would have thought, initially, the minerals sector had been hesitant to embrace continuous, real-time chemical analysis, opting to stick with the ‘tried and tested’ conventional sampling techniques. The coal and cement industries had enthusiastically taken the technology on board much earlier. Nevertheless, the need to ensure that their operations are sustainable has compelled mining companies to adopt real-time, continuous analysers. Currently, RTI has made over 100 installations of its AllScan worldwide, with a prospect of the portfolio growing. In Africa, a South African manganese, chrome and iron miner, demonstrates the success of online analysers. The mining company has online analyser devices installed at some of its operations. Installation was done after a rigorous trialling process in a production environment in relatively new processes and plants. The analysers have been in processes from primary to final product bar product certification. Worthwhile investment By and large, real-time, continuous, analysers are a worthwhile investment, worth every dime of the high initial costs, when one takes a longterm view. Usually, after commissioning the cost could be recouped within a year, should the optimisation process be applied appropriately, states Micheal Edwards, RTI’s specialist for Africa Region.

Case study at a Coal Washery


ecent studies have substantiated the effectiveness of real-time, continuous on-line analysis techniques over conventional ore sampling systems in more demanding conditions. A comprehensive study, carried out and concluded in 2015, lent further credence to this notion. The use of data output value was opted as it was deemed simple and relatively reasonable. In the study at a coal washery in Australia, which treats a number of types of coal with widely varying ash content, the data output values of the two methods was compared, and the prominence of online analysers was established. The findings stake the claim for the application on-line analysers. The study, “Determination of the precision of sampling systems and on-line analysers” was presented at the 7th World Conference on Sampling & Blending, Bordeaux, France June 10-12, 2015. Data values were collected from both an online

analyser and a conventional sampling system producing assays every six hours. The results confirmed a phenomenon all too familiar- as it was in previous studies. The conventional sampling system was erratic in reading coal with different ash content. On the other hand, consistently, the on-line analyser was able to interrogate the feed coals on the same belt. The conventional sampling system data was analysed on a per coal type basis in order to pick up the serial correlation for those coal streams. Ideally, a sampling system must be unbiased and very precise, accurate. Unfortunately, more often than not, with conventional sampling systems, sadly, it is futile to attempt calibrating an on-line gauge for coal ash and coal ash constituents against routine samples taken over the measurement. Thus, this rules out calibration again conventional sampling systems, which rely on guesswork and assumptions.

It is also worth mentioning that, in the niche market of continuous, real-time, online analysis, PGNAA analysers are more effective than other technologies. Alternative technologies such as Near-Infrared (NIR) and Laser Induced Fluorescence (LIF) are also used in online belt analysis. These technologies emit energy to the surface of the material, whose characteristics are analysed based on how the energy is reflected back. Another technique is the XRF (X-ray fluorescence), which produces an intense X-Ray beam that causes different elements in the material to produce distinct fluorescence x-rays, an analysis is made of these rays. The drawback with these technologies is that they lack the ability to primarily read the surface, hence are limited as far as penetrating the cross section of the material is concerned, unlike PGNAA analysers.

Article adapted from a paper published at 7th World Conference on Sampling & Blending, Bordeaux, France June 10-12, 2015.

Mining Business Africa | November - December 2021 41

FEATURE Real-time Field Equipment Monitoring

Asset Health Monitoring “The continued disruption of business operations caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has globally expedited the need for digitalised and remotely managed business processes and assets, especially in the maintenance management arena.”


ack in 2019, researchers from Verdantix identified the trends in technology roadmaps for asset management technologies and compiled a helpful graphic to illustrate the value and associated growth of these technologies. Of interest to us at the time was the rapid growth and high value associated with Asset Reliability Analytics, Fault Detection and Diagnostics and Asset Performance Management software. Even more exciting was the high value related to Remote Condition Monitoring technologies that started reaching maturity. Timely technologies for a global pandemic Fast forward to July 2021, and we realise just how timely these technologies were to help mitigate health risks and save critical assets and companies alike. The continued disruption of business operations caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has globally expedited the need for digitalised and remotely managed business processes and assets, especially in the maintenance management arena. The realities of in-person transmission of the virus and health protocols to keep people away from each other and from high touch points begs for the implementation of alternative solutions to monitor the reliability, performance and health of assets, especially those critical to the continued operation of businesses.

Technologies and your asset care plans With constrained resource movement and availability, time is of the essence. Monitoring and predicting the potential failure of an asset remotely, builds in a buffer to action cost-effective, controlled and timely preventive actions and avoid breakdowns of assets, such as standby generators, not performing when suddenly required to do so. Your digitalisation strategy and technology roadmap tie in with your asset management strategy and asset care plans. You require a clear understanding of the criticality of each asset and its associated function, its failure modes and the effect on your operation. This information will help you determine the best maintenance tactics of which the rise of predictive maintenance is emphasised in the Verdantix report. Technologies enabling predictive failure detection are of high value and are a driving force changing the maintenance and reliability landscape. Not only do these technologies offer you the capability of 24/7 real-time online access to monitor the health of your equipment and to receive timely warnings before potential failures. These systems should also trigger the selected corrective maintenance tasks and get your maintenance teams working on the problem before you even know of it. Visualising your asset management processes can also help determine how to

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deploy technologies in your operation. Below is a simple diagram depicting various scenarios from a planned inspection to a manual detection, periodic condition assessment, an IIoT enabled condition monitoring value chain, along with how each one feeds into the work or maintenance management process. A holistic approach to condition monitoring technologies and sensors The growing scope and availability of predictive condition monitoring technologies and sensors has given many companies a way to convert their assets to “smart assets” and adapt their maintenance processes and tasks with the enriched information derived from data provided by these smart assets. We found that the success of the use of technologies hinges on a holistic approach. Individual technologies as such aren’t the silver bullet, but correctly scoping the stack of correct measurement and assessment technologies that provide the required information should be used in combination with the required expertise to analyse the data and tweak the frequency of asset monitoring. Randomly selecting technologies proves to be costly. It would be best to consider the technologies you already have and the interfaces or integrations required to develop the most practical and sustainable system

End-to-end management of field workers & contractors in the mining industry Managers in the mining industry in South Africa are faced with various multi-dimensional challenges. Contractors are expected to deliver services in often complex and dynamic environments, managing remote field technicians and inspectors while mining managers have to ensure that health and safety requirements are adhered to, and that service is delivered as per third-party SLAs. Bloodhound has created an end-to-end management solution, FILE13, that streamlines this entire process. It includes maintenance and monitoring of mining equipment and is fully digitised and paperless to provide key stakeholders in the mining industry with peace of mind that excellent service is being delivered. It’s a dynamic platform where changes to construction safety and risk assessment can be reviewed and improved in real-time and it allows for real-time exception escalations ensuring workforce management is optimised within safe working environments.




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landscape for your needs. If you are concerned about the needed investment, a technology roadmap can help with a cost-effective approach that can be expanded. The importance of a use case should also not be underestimated as it can help validate the return on your investment before you commit to the costs. The value of in-time asset health monitoring and analysis In-time monitoring and analysis provide reliability and maintenance engineers access to visualised real-time data dashboards, which provide them with information about an asset’s health status and its associated risk levels. These solutions typically use engineered algorithms for predictive analytics, which gives reliability engineers a better sense of the overall status of asset or equipment reliability, but it also enables them to make better decisions to increase this reliability and overall integrity of a plant assetdependent organisation. In-time monitoring and analysis also enable local and remote monitoring and support to allow for the most efficient decision-making when coupled with in-depth analysis and expert advice on corrective actions to maintain uptime and increase asset or equipment longevity. The digital twin A step up from basic condition monitoring

is asset digitisation, which allows for the development of digital twins with the visualisation of the asset’s condition and its associated process parameters in real-time. Alarms and notifications can be triggered to warn of any asset anomalies and ultimately prevent asset downtime. Where this is coupled with an automated work management process where work orders are created based on the anomalies identified, you have predictive maintenance without any human intervention. Imagine the transparency this will achieve for the state of your critical assets. You will be able to track utilities, like water and energy usage or the fuel levels of your standby generator, which is a highly critical asset in the South African context, given load shedding. You will understand exactly what is happening inside your oil-filled transformer, and you will be able to make decisions that will help you significantly reduce costs, the risk of failure, downtime and even the impact on the environment. Digital twins help to ensure a more reliable and optimal performing asset-intensive organisation or any small business for that matter. The power of having access to live information and a built-up history of asset information or failure trends enables predictive responses to reliabilitycentred maintenance. It provides peace of mind to asset and business owners.

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Agility – the core of the smart organisation But perhaps the most important tool one can have is agility, to be able to respond quickly and efficiently to manage our assets better. Predictive maintenance enables this, avoiding or reducing downtime and ultimately ensuring that expensive repairs and maintenance work are either avoided or planned accordingly. Maintenance readiness is also vital, taking into consideration a whole lifecycle asset management approach. Agility is also our ability to think and understand quickly. We must process all the information we are bombarded with as quickly as possible, and importantly, extract what will add value to our respective organisations or businesses. In closing, just as it is important to monitor one’s heart rate regularly and respond to anomalies, asset health monitoring is literally having your finger on the pulse, enabling informed and predictive decision-making. It is vital that organisations or businesses in South Africa start developing a digitisation roadmap and gradually commence on a journey to sound and sustainable asset management reliant on intelligent assets and smart asset owners. Information Courtesy: Pragma- Asset Monitoring

FEATURE Refurbishment of Gas-Insulated Switchgear for mining projects

Timely Refurbishment, Increased Performance Mines can benefit immensely when the gas-insulated switchgear is refurbished timely following best practices and industry standards. These benefits include improved reliability, elimination of unscheduled replacement costs, and pollution reduction. EZY Switchgear, Pretoria-based specialists in gas-insulated switchgear, explain why refurbishment should be the priority.


witchgear has to be reliable and safe at all times. While OEMs offer guarantees on equipment like gas-insulated switchgear, unavoidably, there is always some point where switchgear damage will occur after the warrantee period expired. Generally, when it does happen, this damage results in a reduction in reliability and safety and downtime to equipment, or at worst total loss of the switchgear which will lead to loss of productivity and consequently to massive revenue loss. This situation should be avoided especially where mines are ramping up production rates.

Critical elements in switchgear refurbishment Having solved complex challenges for organisations in mining and other industries, EZY Switchgear is eager to share critical elements in the refurbishment of secondary gasinsulated switchgear with mining companies. Specifically, Bekker draws attention to the following areas: Signs of failure, the Scope of Refurbishment (critical components) target, Best

Practice in Switchgear Refurbishment, and the stage where a critical decision on Replacement or Repair can be made. 1. Signs of failure It is only natural that as productivity in mines is peaking, for gas-insulated switchgear to be overexerted, leading to the deterioration of the safety and reliability. Bekker mentions the following as the common components that are

Effective condition monitoring Mining companies should ensure that the reliability and safety of their gas-insulated switchgear is optimal at all times, and this is only possible through effective preventative maintenance and refurbishment. This is the sage advice of Eben Bekker, the Director of EZY Switchgear, to management at African mines. Bekker is an Electrical Engineer, Professionally Registered with The Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). Based in Pretoria, EZY Switchgear specialises in the refurbishment and service of Secondary Gas-Insulated Switchgear for companies in the mining and related sectors.

Mining Business Africa | November - December 2021 45

• •


likely to be encountered: SF6 Tank Gas leaks, non-functional Interlocks, mechanism damage, and cable side damage. On cable termination failure damage in compact switchgear, Bekker expounds: “Compact switchgear has a much higher risk of cable side failure than any other switchgear, therefore we always encourage our end-users to use fully screened connectors.” 2.

The scope of switchgear refurbishment The ultimate objective of refurbishment is restoring the gas-insulated switchgear as close, to its original level of performance, as possible. Accordingly, Bekker recommends that the scope of the maintenance tasks should be as broad as possible, specifically, encompassing the following: a. Stripping of all mechanisms to refurbish the SF6 Tank b. Replacement of damaged bushings c. Rebuilding and testing of all switching mechanisms

d. e. f. g. h. i. j. • • • • k.

Full interlock rebuilding and testing Relay test/replacement Current Transformer Test or Replacement Aesthetic repairs to look brand new. Vacuuming and re-gassing the SF6 tank Leak detection Full electrical tests High Voltage 2x Nominal voltage minimum Ductor test Primary injection test Speed test Recertification and Warranty

3. Best practice To be more effective, planning for switchgear refurbishment tasks should be carried out methodically following best practices. So, the industry should always keep in mind the following points about switchgear refurbishment: • Refurbishing switchgear should not just involve surface treatments such as cleaning and painting; • Proper care in the rejuvenation of the operating mechanisms and safety

46 Mining Business Africa | November - December 2021

interlocks (As this is the most vulnerable part of the switchgear) The aim is to have it “as new” again. Use a reputable provider with a track record of excellence and warrantees being kept. Proper Refurbishment takes time. And so, it is important to allow for 10-20 days for proper work and comprehensive testing to be completed.

The earlier the better Refurbishment should be carried earlier rather than later when dealing with ageing gasinsulated switchgear. The stage of deterioration of components within the switchgear will determine whether the switchgear can be refurbished successfully or whether unscheduled and costly replacement expenses will be at the order of the day. When GIS (Gas Insulated Switchgear) is not maintained properly due to operational constraints, lack of capital, or lack of knowledge, they will get to a stage where they cannot function safely and reliably. Three main scenarios may necessitate refurbishment to be carried out: tripping of a breaker upstream; picking up of a gas leak, and cable termination failure. • Tripping of a breaker upstream When a breaker upstream has to trip, in essence, the correct circuit breaker did not react in time and the backup upstream circuit breaker had to switch off a much larger section of the operation. When this happens, it is better to

refurbish before you lose the whole switchgear to catastrophic failure. • Gas leaks pick up The team at EZY Switchgear always tells the end-user to mark the gas pressure level with a permanent marker and track the change of pressure. “Since gas pressure changes with temperature, one must always ensure that minor movements up and down are discarded, it is not alarming. But if significant movement can be seen, it is time to refurbish before catastrophic failure occurs,” he advises.

• Cable termination failure Cable termination failure can cause bushing damage, damage to metal parts, interlocks and carbon build-up. This will prohibit commissioning of the switchgear but instead of scrapping the unit, it could rather be refurbished. Immense benefits By and large, when their gas-insulated switchgear is refurbished following best practices, mines can benefit immensely in several ways. “First, in most cases, it has been established that refurbishment has much lower costs than replacement. Savings could

be between 40%-60% savings compared to replacement. Secondly, it has a much faster delivery time compared to new switchgear (1020 days compared to 12-16 weeks), above and beyond we can guarantee a mine local support and warranty. Last but certainly not least, timeously refurbishment ensures environmental protection, ratifying the Paris Agreement on Climate Change of which South Africa is in support of, as the unit is fixed before the gas goes into the atmosphere as a pollutant.”

Mining Business Africa | November - December 2021 47


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Mining Business Africa (MBA) is Pan-African bi-monthly publication that focuses on latest developments in mining and allied industries in Africa. The publication covers the scope of critical activities from pit to port – mineral exploration (prospecting), mine planning and development, extraction, mineral processing, storage transportation, as well as beneficiation. Mining Business Africa provides the desired mileage for companies looking to promote their products and services to a specific niche clientele in the African Mining Sector. Subscribers are located or at least involved in projects in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana and Nigeria. MBA is published by Media Icon, a company manned by personnel with a combined experience of 30 years in the publishing space.

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