Condra Cranes’ latest shipment of lifting equipment to Zambia-based copper mining company Mopani Copper Mines, despatched in late August, raised Condra’s order intake from Mopani to more than R100-million.
Comprising one electric travelling overhead crane, 38 hoists and two large and seven smaller jib cranes, the shipment is earmarked for various applications at the Mufulira and Nkana mines, and was transported from Condra’s Germiston-based factory by road.
Some of the hoists in Mopani’s latest shipment have high lifts exceeding 30 m, including a “very” high lift of 48 m on one of the jib cranes.
Walkways on the overhead crane were completed with steel grating instead of the normal chequer plate, and weld seams on all machines were inspected for quality and integrity to counter the harsh, corrosive environment of Copperbelt mining.
Condra’s MD Marc Kleiner notes that work on six additional single- and double-girder overhead cranes for Nkana’s synclinorium shaft and the concentrator plants at both mines has begun. He says the crane capacities will be between 5 t and 10 t, with standard lifting heights and spans of between 15 m and 18 m.
Condra expects to receive additional orders for as many as nine cranes while the six girder overhead cranes already mentioned are on the factory floor.
Mopani operates the Mufulira mine, smelter, concentrator and copper refinery on the outskirts of Mufulira, and the Nkana mine, concentrator and cobalt plant near Kitwe – both towns are located on the Copperbelt, in central Zambia. The company placed its first order with Condra in 2012 and Kleiner notes that the relationship has only strengthened since then.
Condra’s deliveries to Mopani are ongoing. Three years ago, the company delivered two 25 t headgear cranes to the synclinorium shaft at the Nkana mine, and two 70 t maintenance cranes for the winderhouse, the latter designed with high lifts of over 80 m each.
The company has manufactured several other overhead and high-lift machines for Mopani and regularly supplies hoists in quantity.
Commenting on Mopani’s recent orders, Kleiner says that Condra’s reliability and prompt service were the main reasons Mopani awarded the contracts to Condra.
He explains that his company’s northern hemisphere competitors generally suffered from the handicap of long lead times on spares ordered from factories based abroad.
“Mining companies need effective production levels, and this productivity is dependent on the reliability of all mining machinery and lifting equipment . . . It is a fact that the ability of some of our competitors to respond to the needs and realities of lifting equipment customers on the African continent lags behind that of Condra,”
Kitwe-based agent EC Mining, which holds stocks of Condra spares, services equipment on the Copperbelt .
Kleiner notes that Condra has other formalised agencies in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Namibia, Kenya and Botswana, as well as qualified technicians who are based in Zambia, and travel to the DRC and Tanzania when needed.
“Ideally, we’d like technicians to be based in other African countries as well, and we are establishing service relationships with representatives in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Angola . . . to formally appoint agents in those countries as soon as possible.”
Kleiner adds that Condra is also looking to develop its existing markets outside Africa, specifically in Eastern Europe, Canada and South America. “We will grow the Eastern European market through our subsidiary company in Bulgaria,” he says adding that the company is currently participating in a tender for a 160 t overhead crane for a company in Ukraine.
He states that Canada is a steady market, and is showing signs of providing further growth.
Kleiner notes that Condra’s international aspirations require access to port facilities to facilitate ease of shipping, “hence, the development in Cape Town”. The company has started construction on a new workshop in Cape Town to allow for shipping further up the African coast, as well as in the other markets.