Springs-based steelwork fabricator and erector Louwill Engineering will complete the construction of an 82-m-high conventional steel headgear for Chinese-owned Wesizwe Platinum’s new shaft development, south of the Pilanesberg nature reserve, in the North West, next month.
Wesizwe Platinum’s flagship Bakubung platinum mine, formerly known as the Frischgewaagd-Ledig mine, embarked on a 62-month, R1.64-billion, shaft-sinking process, initiating the first blast at the mine in July last year.
The Bakubung mine development project entails the sinking of a twin vertical shaft system, which will be developed by multidisciplinary construction and engineering group Aveng Grinaker LTA. It will comprise a 8.5-m-diameter main shaft, reaching a depth of 1 000 m, and a 7.5 m ventilation shaft, reaching a depth of 930 m.
Mining Weekly reported in August last year that the main shaft is expected to have a 230 000 t hoisting capacity and that Wesizwe Platinum aims to deliver first production during the second quarter of 2018, ramping up to full production of 350 000 oz a year by 2023.
The contract was awarded to Louwill Engineering during the last quarter of 2012 and entails the fabrication and erection of the headgear using about 1 700 t of steel.
Manufacturing of the headgear started during the latter part of 2012 and has since been completed. Louwill Engineering is preassembling the steelwork and is preparing to erect the headgear.
“The equipment needed to establish the headgear includes normal erection cranes; however, a 1 100 t crane will be used to hoist the larger sections of the headgear,” explains Louwill Engineering project and estimating manager and associated director Deon Kotzé.
Further, Louwill Engineering also completed a contract for headgear for the Royal Bafokeng Platinum and Anglo American Platinum joint venture’s (JV’s) R11.8-billion Styldrift platinum mining project last year.
The Styldrift project area, which is adjacent to the existing Boschkoppie mining area, about 5.5 km from the existing Bafokeng Rasimone platinum mine, will produce about 220 000 oz/y of platinum during steady operation.
Louwill Engineering fabricated and erected the main and service shafts’ headgears and winder house.
Besides its South Africa-based contracts, Louwill Engineering is manufacturing a headgear for the Kibali gold project, a JV between Africa-focused gold producer Randgold Resources, gold mining company AngloGold Ashanti and Congolese parastatal Sokimo, in Orientale province, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Louwill Engineering has completed 60% of the headgear for the Kibali mine, which consists of openpit and underground sections, notes Kotzé.
Meanwhile, the company is also undertaking work at coal miner Sasol Mining’s Impumelelo colliery, in Secunda; platinum miner Impala Platinum’s No 16 shaft, on the western limb of the Bushveld Complex, in the North West province; at Harmony Gold’s Welkom-based mines, in the Free State; and mines in Machadodorp, in Mpumalanga.
“Until recently, our crews have mainly been working in South Africa, but with more and more mining operations being undertaken in Africa, we have decided to pursue opportunities where we can apply our expertise,” he says.
Louwill Engineering has previously under- taken headgear fabrication contracts for companies in Africa, and the company is expanding its erection capabilities in Africa, says Kotzé.
Besides these capabilities, Louwill Engineering has ten site managers, with crews, and a wide range of equipment to undertake surface and underground erection, mechanical installation and the commissioning of materials handling equipment, ore pass steelwork and platework, as well as shaft steelwork and buntons.
Kotzé believes that, as long as there is mining to be done in Africa, there will be a need for headgears, especially in the gold and platinum sectors.
“The gold and platinum sectors provide us with most of our business, mainly owing to the method with which these metals are mined. The depth at which gold and platinum is mined makes mining, using vertical shafts, ideal.”
As specialists in general steel fabrication and the erection thereof, as well as sandblasting and painting, Louwill Engineering can manufacture all mine shaft infrastructures, including compressor houses, workshops, processor plants, shaft headgears, bins, chutes, smelters and associated steelwork, conveyors and related equipment, underground materials handling steelwork, as well as station and shaft steelwork.
The company has a fleet of 22 cranes, the biggest of which is a 150 t lattice boom crawler crane. It also has two 150 t and 75 t lattice boom cranes and two 70 t hydraulic cranes. The balance of the fleet comprises hydraulic cranes, with capacities ranging from 10 t to 50 t, as well as cherry pickers.
Louwill Engineering operates under the ISO 9001 guidelines. A quality system that is compatible with these guidelines is also in place. The company also works according to the various South African National Standards applicable to steel fabrication and the American Welding Society’s D1.1 standard for fabricating and erecting welded steel structures.