With the prevalence of cable theft at local mine sites, and the potential health and safety implications this has, it is imperative that companies take a proactive approach and implement preventative measures, asserts industrial equipment supplier Banding and Identification Solutions SA (Banding ID) senior sales representative Matthew Campbell.
He emphasises the pervasiveness of this problem at certain mining operations, with cable theft occurring weekly, with 80% of the mining operations he visits reporting such problems.
Campbell says there is a lack of proactive measures in place to reduce the “scourge” of cable theft. Moreover, the problem is not confined to the mining sector, as State-owned enterprises and other manufacturing and processing plants are also complacent. “It is almost as if industry has accepted this problem as the norm,” he laments.
Not addressing the problem of cable theft places mines at risk of having to deal with several operational, cost, and health and safety repercussions, Campbell stresses.
He explains that, if power supply to critical infrastructure is interrupted, mining operations could be hindered or even come to a complete halt. Such malfunctions to mining equipment could lead to serious injury or death. For example, if a miner is critically injured underground and needs to be taken back to surface for treatment, but the lift is unable to operate due to an interruption in power supply caused by cable theft, there will be a delay in providing the injured miner with healthcare. In a worst case scenario, this delay in treatment may ultimately result in a death, Campbell warns.
Mining companies having to replace stolen cables is costly in terms of not only buying new cables and accessories, such as cable joints, but also delaying general maintenance on the mining operation, as electricians have to replace cables. This is also a health and safety risk, as the continuous replacement of cable increases the chance of injury during the process of replacement.
Campbell explains that, although mine operators have procedures in place for correct cable maintenance/replacement, an increase in dealing with high voltage cables increases the chances of there being a lapse in procedure that could result in injury through a technician being shocked, or even something as simple as a technician cutting open his/her hand while replacing the cable.
Moreover, he notes that cable theft creates a criminal element around mining operations, which engenders a perception of an unsafe working environment for mining staff. This, he posits, will always increase the likelihood of further crimes, which may be violent in nature and harmful to mining staff.
Campbell suggests that Banding ID’s UL4000-C Ultra-Lok clamping system is the ideal solution for reducing cable theft at mining operations and in other industries.
“Too often, discussions around cable theft look to role-players, such as the South African Police Service or private security firms, to monitor and protect cable infrastructure. The Ultra-Lok system enables the end-user to take proactive steps in securing the cable at the source.”
The product presents a particularly attractive option to complacent industries, compared with other preventative measures, the Ultra-Lok is simple to install and a cost-effective solution, with Campbell positing that it is unparalleled in terms of strapping solutions on the market.
The clamping system comprises a 201 1/4 hard stainless steel band and a 201 1/4 hard tamperproof stainless steel buckle, which are used to form a clamp, which is installed using the UL4000-D application tool.
With the band and buckle available in two widths of 12 mm and 19 mm, and the product length availability ranging from 800 mm to 3 048 mm, the end-user has the option of strapping different sizes of cable or other applications.
Campbell also emphasises that the Ultra-Lok is multipurpose, as in addition to serving as a cable theft deterrent, other applications range from hose assembly and sign installation to cable management.
For mining operations, above-ground cable can be secured using the Ultra-Lok clamp, which can be attached to cable trays, frames or structures.
Campbell enthuses that the buckle’s tamperproof design, and the “superior grade” stainless steel makes the clamp extremely difficult to remove – a grinder is needed to cut and remove it. “This significantly increases the time needed to remove a clamp, increasing the risk factor attached to stealing copper cables. The increased time spent trying to remove the clamps makes this type of theft less appealing,” he explains.
Meanwhile, the most recent Ultra-Lok project for Banding ID entailed an installation for a mining operation on the platinum belt in South Africa.
Banding ID was commissioned, last month, to supply the Ultra-Lok clamping system for the mine, which is currently in the roll-out phase, as well as to provide training.
Despite the project being at an early stage, Campbell is confident of its success, as the product has generated “great results” in deterring cable theft at previous projects.