Although mines are under extreme pressure to operate at tight margins, owing to the decline in commodity prices, fire-suppression solutions company I-CAT has solutions in place to meet their needs.
“We are geared to absorb commodity price fluctuations and can ride the cycle to its eventual upturn. “Our contracts with clients are structured to accommodate our own price increases once commodity prices improve,” says I-CAT MD Lourens Jansen van Rensburg.
I-CAT assists mines in coping during these tough times by offering reliable and environment- friendly mining products and solutions using cutting-edge technologies.
Jansen van Rensburg indicates that the company is constantly evolving, improving and adjusting to market trends through its innovation and research department.
“Our team works diligently to improve our product performance while keeping costs down. Through our extensive research and development, the life span and effectiveness of our products are significantly extended,” he says.
I-CAT’s fire suppression solutions are specifically aimed at vehicle and plant safety. The company recently secured a major contract with mining vehicle and plant suppliers to install its systems in the vehicles prior to deployment at several mines and smelters. The systems are self-detecting and can be manually operated and ensure operator safety in harsh environments.
I-CAT’s TRT-VPS-FM product range is designed to protect valuable production vehicles and assets against fire. Its applications include mine haulage trucks, forklifts, bobcats, dump trucks, front-end loaders and excavators.
Operating in harsh mining conditions and confined spaces, the company points out that one of the biggest risks to both man and machine is vehicle fires. They occur when least expected and can cause major damage to equipment, resulting in production losses and, most importantly, loss of life.
The TRT-VPS-FM product range is constructed to protect the operator and ensure that there is no additional damage to the equipment through the activation of the fire system. It reduces downtime and clean-up after activation, is environment friendly, has a low maintenance cost and is easy to operate and install.
The TRT-VPS-FM system makes use of T-Rotor technology, the leading misting technology internationally, claims I-CAT’s product brochure. Extinguishing all classes of fires by using foam mist as the agent, the system creates a fine atomised mist, charged with kinetic energy to penetrate the heat radiation caused by a fire. It ensures gradual cooling without causing thermal shock to the equipment. A 0.05% Telesolv aqueous film-forming green foaming agent is added to the system to prevent any B-class fire (fires involving flammable liquids) from spreading when fuel lines or hydraulic lines rupture, causing engine fires.
I-CAT notes that using foam mist as a fire extinguishing medium supersedes alternative solutions supplied by its competitors in the market. It displaces oxygen through its rapid expansion by coming into contact with radiated heat from a fire and forms an inert environment. Through its gradual cooling properties, it controls the risk of reignition and the spread of a potentially devastating fire.
The foam mist prevents thermal shock and poses no threat to hot surface equipment that may crack or damage through rapid cooling. The TRT-VPS-FM system is classified as Class A, B, C and F, therefore, making the need for dual medium extinguishing unnecessary.
Further, the TRT-VPS-FM system comes with valve components manufacturer Schrader’s detachable valve gauges. The system’s cylinder pressure can be verified by removing the gauge, allowing it to lose pressure and then replacing the gauge, after which it should repressurise. The company explains that this ensures that one can always check that the system is active and will activate when needed.
Once a system is activated, it will require a refill – an antibacterial tablet and repressurisation with nitrogen to put the system back into service. All systems can be pressure-tested on site and operational within minutes. The system is, therefore, designed to improve and save on maintenance costs.
I-CAT has warned that maintenance of and compliance with safety standards are most imperative to mining operations and cannot be neglected. The company says South Africa’s current down cycle poses a challenge to many mines, which are becoming increasingly pressured to keep operating at lowered costs to avoid closing down.
I-CAT offers a wide range of fire-suppression solutions. Its Environmental Services division also offers compliance monitoring, licensing and permitting, and legal and performance auditing. Its products are certified as environment friendly and are aimed at improving health and safety in mines, where many of its products have been successfully applied.