Bulk earthworks, demolitions and civil engineering service provider ICON Group states that a recent contract to install high-density polyethylene (HDPE) linings at a gold mine tailings project, in Burkina Faso, has provided an opportunity to explore projects, and entrench its footprint across the rest of the continent.
ICON was appointed by geosynthetics manufacturer Solmax to install the HDPE linings for this project. “The project entails installing 200 000 m2 of 1.5 mm, HDPE lining, as well as any additional layer work that might be required, as part of the greenfield tailings dam construction,” says ICON’s Linings Operations head Jaco Potgieter.
He explains that the project and partnership with Solmax has enabled ICON to explore further opportunities into Africa. Solmax appointed the ICON group for this project in January this year; and ICON started work in March. “This is a great project for the company because it is the first-of-its-kind that we have been awarded in Burkina Faso,” he adds.
Potgieter says the company’s long-term goal is to become one of the biggest installers of HDPE linings in Africa and to further establish itself in the industry.
“Our aim is to be the first choice for mining companies by showing that we can produce the best. Our team are expert at installation work and the effort and service we render helps us to secure more projects.”
Meanwhile, Potgieter explains that, despite some of the challenges, such us unrest or military insurgencies experienced in some Central and East Africa countries, there continues to be a safe working environment for businesses operating across the continent and there is collaboration with the local workforce and residents.
“Every country has its challenges but we need to navigate through local conditions in any environment. We remain excited to explore new destinations and help to develop projects and infrastructure across Africa.”
Some interesting lining-related projects that ICON worked on in South Africa include a HDPE geomembrane installation in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal. They also provide demolition and bulk earthworks capabilities.
Geosynthetics for Mining
Solmax Africa manager Johan Behrens explains that the company is involved in the design of tailings facilities through consulting engineers, and also develops products specifically for the facility and region for which they are destined.
“All tailings facilities and leach pads worldwide use geosynthetics to prevent mine water from contaminating groundwater. Mines produce a substantial amount of waste in the form of processing water, tailings or leach pads. The effective containment of this waste is vital to a mine’s environmental stewardship, as it prevents it from impacting on the surrounding environment.”
He tells Mining Weekly that Solmax products provide heap leach pads with an impermeable base to reduce the risks of environmental contamination caused by leaching solutions and chemicals while helping mines maximise mineral recovery.