Multidisciplinary engineering services provider TDS Projects Construction, in partnership with Robor Pipe Systems, has started construction of a 13-km-long tailings pipeline for the Nkomati nickel mine’s Onverwacht site, in Mpumalanga.
The project is on track for successful completion next month, according to TDS Projects Construction.
Nkomati represents one of the largest nickel reserves in South Africa, having estimated reserves of 408.6-million tonnes of ore containing about 1.35-million tonnes of nickel metal.
The tailings pipeline will connect to the cross-valley tailings storage facility at the Onverwacht site.
TDS was contracted for the project by Robor Pipe Systems, with whom TDS has a long-standing working relationship as one of its preferred subcontractors.
According to TDS operations director Willie Pieters, the two firms frequently collaborate on pipeline projects.
“Owing to the competitive nature of the market, TDS Projects Construction and Robor decided to work together on projects where pipes were to be supplied and installed. Robor is one of the major pipe suppliers in South Africa and chose to partner with us based on our expertise, capability and excellent safety record,” he says.
The planned pipeline will consist of a 400 mm pipe column. The highest point will reach 1 468 m above sea level and the lowest point 1 200 m above sea level.
The pipe column design is suitable for pumping slurry at 64 bar. TDS Projects Construction started construction in October. All the pipes required for the project have been delivered and more than 4 560 m of piping has been installed.
While pipeline installations of this magnitude are not uncommon in the industry, Pieters believes that this particular project highlights some of Robor’s unique hallmarks.