Prefabricated building manufacturer Kwikspace Modular Buildings last month completed a R100-million accommodation project for the Nacala corridor project in Nacala, Mozambique.
A Brazil-based mining major awarded the Nacala camp project to Kwikspace in 2012.
“The project comprised more than 10 000 m2 of accommodation and support buildings for senior management, supervisory staff and workers working on the project,” says company business development director Nick Alexander.
He adds that the camp offers accommodation for about 700 people and includes an office complex, ablution facilities, a large clinic, recreational rooms, a kitchen/diner and a laundry facility.
Engineering News last year reported that Mozambique’s Nacala railway corridor project, which is currently one of the largest mining and construction projects worldwide, aims to provide a logistics solution for the transport of coal using a new 912-km-long railway corridor, which will be able to carry up to 30-million tonnes of coal a year. The corridor will run from Moatize coal mine, in Tete province, to the Nacala port, on the Indian Ocean.
The units for the camp were made from fully insulated polyurethane-injected panels to enhance temperature control and noise reduction. These are semi-permanent structures which were built onto concrete slabs and plinths, notes Alexander.
He points out that these standard insulated wall panels and composite insulated roof panels are energy efficient and function well in humid conditions, as they reduce the amount of energy used to maintain a comfortable and stable temperature.
Although these units will remain on site for about five years for the duration of the Nacala railway corridor project, Alexander notes that the modular buildings have a life span of up to 20 years when maintained routinely.
He further comments that the camp’s environmental footprint can be kept to a minimum as, once the project is complete, the prefabricated buildings can be removed and the area rehabilitated.
Alexander highlights Kwikspace’s ability to swiftly transport and assemble the units as some of the key advantages of the product.
He further cites cost effectiveness and comfort as added benefits of the units and notes that clients have more flexibility when they rent the units, as they can reduce or increase the number of rentals during the course of a project.
Alexander tells Mining Weekly that Kwikspace faced several challenges during the construction and assembly of the camp in Nacala, including logistical challenges; clearing delays at port customs; heavy rains; illness, such as malaria; and a shortage of local skills and labour.
However, he says Kwikspace identified local skilled labourers and contractors who assisted with the project, as the company acknowledges that localisation is important for a country’s development. It also enhances a foreign company’s relationship with local community members.
Kwikspace has been involved in several projects of varying sizes in Mozambique and opened a branch in Tete province about two years ago.
With this in mind, another long-term strategy for the company includes opening another branch in the province of Cabo Delgado, in northern Mozambique, within the next two months, as well as two or three branches in other Southern African Development Community countries in the next couple of years.
Meanwhile, Alexander notes that the growth of Africa’s mining industry depends on project activity and the demand for resources and commodities, which tend to fluctuate.
He explains that, while he notes that there is strong growth in mining projects when demand for commodities increases, this demand impacts on the need for additional accommodation, which is currently not being met.
“Mining projects usually employ up to about 1 000 people simultaneously and they need to be fed, accommodated and cared for,” he notes.
Kwikspace is currently involved in a project for a Portugal-based construction company responsible for part of the rehabilitation of Zambia’s Great East Road (T4)-Lot 1, near Luangwa Bridge, in the Nyimba district.
The company will supply two prefabricated modular camp facilities near the construction site, in the villages of Kacholola and Mtenguleni, for about 100 people. The camps will include the supply of materials and furniture fittings, as well as the loading, packaging and erection of housing facilities, kitchens, diners, offices and converted containers.
While the company is continuously investigating energy efficient technologies, such as more efficient power generators to reduce power consumption on site, and improved air-conditioning systems, Alexander notes an increased demand from clients for solar geysers, owing to the need for better energy efficiency and more cost-effective operations.
He points out, however, that for some projects, improved energy efficiency technologies are too costly owing to the short duration of these projects.
Alexander notes that there will always be a strong demand for modular buildings providing on-site accommodation facilities.
“The modular buildings tend to be temporary in nature and, with rapid deployment required, modular accommodation is an integral part of projects, especially when mining companies need to send engineers and operators to site quickly and cannot wait for traditional structures to be constructed,” he concludes.