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Benguela Gem wins top honours at SAISC Steel Awards

Benguela Gem

Benguela Gem

14th October 2022

By: Darren Parker

Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

     

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The overall winner of the 2022 Southern African Institute for Steel Construction (SAISC) Awards is the Benguela general treatment plant mining facility aboard the Benguela Gem – the world’s most advanced diamond recovery vessel.

Operating off the coast of Namibia, the Benguela Gem is owned by diamond miner Debmarine Namibia, a 50:50 joint venture between diamond miner De Beers and the Namibian government. The Benguela Gem was also the winner of the mining category.

SAISC CEO Amanuel Gebremeskel said the judges were unanimous in their praise for the project.

The Benguela Gem is the product of international collaboration. It was designed in Norway and Poland, built in Romania and fitted out by De Beers Marine South Africa. Diamond recovery by Debmarine Namibia takes place at 90 m to 150 m below sea level.

The design, fabrication and installation of the 3 000 t diamond treatment plant on the vessel was carried out ahead of schedule by local engineers and fabricators in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

“This project stood out in a number of different ways, and presented a first in the history of the Steel Awards: it operates offshore, and is floating rather than being stationary and anchored – a truly distinctive applicant within the awards categories. As a sea-faring structure, it is furthermore subject to unusual engineering loads from a naval engineering perspective,” Gebremeskel said.

The vessel, built for De Beers Marine operations, is unique in Africa, being able to carry out the entire under-sea diamond dredging and treatment process.

From the vessel arriving at the end of September last year with an empty deck, it set sail again with a fully operational mine onboard.

“This project was an exceptional showcase of the use and applications of steel featuring South African design, fabrication and construction for an international client,” Gebremeskel said.

The treatment plant was nominated by designers PBA Projects and completed in collaboration with De Beers Marine and 3C Metal Belmet, Namibia and local fabricators Steel Services and Allied Industries.

This year’s awards, which seeks to commend excellence in the use of steel in construction, was the first in-person Steel Awards held since 2019, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Even before the global pandemic, South Africa’s steel industry had gone through a period of severe challenges. The ‘green shoots’ theme is an acknowledgement of the importance of continuing to navigate through troubled times,” Gebremeskel said.

Gebremeskel explained that many steel construction projects globally were stalled during the pandemic, yet members of the South African steel industry managed to drive projects through to completion in the end.

ADDITIONAL AWARD CATEGORIES

This year’s awards introduced more categories and, consequently, an increased number of winning entries, than in recent years.

“The reasoning behind this was to honour a broader spectrum of awards entrants. We wanted to cater to all possible role-players within the steel construction industry’s varied landscape,” SAISC marketing and management consultant Denise Sherman explained.

Here are the winners in each category:

Automotive:

Ford Package E – As part of a R3-billion investment by vehicle manufacturer Ford, an automotive assembly plant was erected in Rosslyn, Pretoria, as part of the company’s high-volume export programme. The project used extensive steel supplies and comprised a 12 400 m² warehouse, 14.6 m in height. The project was completed ahead of schedule, despite the Covid-19 pandemic and related supply challenges.

Agri-Industrial:

Woodridge Packhouse – This project presented an interesting form, clever use of natural light and a design which allows for natural ventilation, therefore saving on energy costs.

Mining:

Benguela Gem Treatment Plant – This project not only won the mining category but the 2022 steel awards overall.

Residential:

House Vingos – The innovative use of steel, combined with all the other elements of construction, delivered a statement piece of architecture as a family home.

Sports Facilities:

KES Aquatic Centre – While retaining the heritage component of the previous swimming pool complex, the roof structure was of particular interest: an apex running diagonally across the structure, requiring meticulous attention to ensure leakproof sealing.

Sculptural / Architectural:

Eastgate Solar Trees – Despite their aesthetically pleasing design and how it reflects a renewable energy focus, the access to the site during the construction phase was challenging, making for a complicated and challenging installation process.

Light Steel Frame (LSF) Building:

Jubilee Hospital – At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the innovative use of LSF in this field hospital in Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria, allowed for the addition of a significant number of hospital beds to increase existing capacity, using this speedy construction methodology.

Metal Cladding and Roofing:

KES Aquatic Centre – This project won both the Metal Cladding and Roofing, and the Sports Facilities categories.

Tubular Steel:

Babanango Travellers Camp – This tourist accommodation is situated within the Babanango game reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Several technical details included reconciling complex issues regarding the use of different materials of construction and geometrical factors, to achieve the project’s architectural objective: roofing reflecting shapes used in traditional African shields.

Community Enrichment:

Gary Kirsten Sports Centre Khayelitsha – Featuring ease of construction and sustainable materials, this structure also has the capacity to extend if need be.

Best Project Limpopo:

Freshmark Polokwane – The project, carried out for the Freshmark distribution centre in Polokwane, made use of particularly innovative cladding, atypical of a warehouse building and technically challenging to achieve. The result was aesthetically pleasing, with a design element of curved bullnoses from roof to cladding.

Regional Awards:

Best Project Gauteng – House Vingos

Best Project Western Cape – Benguela Gem Treatment Plant

Best Project Eastern Cape – Woodridge Packhouse

Best Project Limpopo – Freshmark Polokwane

Best Project KwaZulu-Natal – Babanango Travellers Camp

Best Export Project:

New Biological Oxidation (Biox) plant in Zimbabwe – Biox is a technology that ensures the optimal processing of high sulphur gold ore, thereby increasing the achievable gold recovery. This technically challenging structural framing project entailed detailing, fabricating and constructing a gold processing Biox plant. The primary objective thereof was to provide access to the various areas of the Biox plant and to its piping support system.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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