The African mining industry’s lighting requirements have evolved from standard high- intensity discharge (HID) products, which have been commonly used over the past 50 years, to more efficient and cost-effective light-emitting- diode (LED) products.
This is according to South African industrial, commercial and public amenity lighting supplier Magnitech technical manager Mark Vigus-Brown.
“The African mining sector is quickly following influential trends set by mining sectors abroad, for example, Australia, where the benefits of using LED products have long since been realised,” he tells Mining Weekly.
These benefits include large savings on electricity and maintenance costs. LED products, such as bulkheads, floodlights and highbays, generally offer a life span of more than 50 000 hours, reducing maintenance costs significantly.
In response to the African mining industry’s demand for industrial-grade LED lighting, Magnitech has introduced the new bulkhead range, namely the MagLED Gen2 launched early 2019 and the MagLED Mini launched in May.
“These products were developed specifically for African conditions, taking into account factors such as safety, extremely high ambient temperatures and exposure to ultraviolet radiation while incorporating the latest technologies,” says Vigus-Brown.
For example, on a typical conveyor lighting installation, when mounted 2.8 m high and spaced 15 m apart, the MagLED Mini 36.8 W exceeds generally accepted lighting levels, being an average illumination of 50 lux and a minimum of 20 lux in between poles, he explains.
“This far surpasses the old method, where 100 W or 150 W high-pressure sodium (HPS) light fittings were mounted at the same height but spaced 12 m apart to achieve similar results.”
Increasing the spacing between poles results in a 20% saving on all hardware, such as light fittings and poles, as well as a 75% saving in electricity consumption, compared with a 150 W HPS fixture.
Vigus-Brown says, although South Africa does not present many new mining opportunities, compared with the rest of Africa, its firmly established mining sector does present opportunities for infrastructure upgrades such as the retrofitting and upgrading of existing HID light fittings with LEDs.
Magnitech believes that retrofitting is the first step in introducing the cost-effective benefits of LED lighting to a mine, as the true benefit will be realised only when mines switch to LED light fittings altogether.
However, as LED technology constantly advances, light fitting manufacturers are challenged to keep up with these changes using the latest technology, such as LED chips with higher lumen per watt ratios, optical lenses and drivers with built-in intelligent technology to create fit-for- purpose light fittings.
Demand for the company’s products in Africa has changed significantly over the past number of years across all mining commodities, says Vigus-Brown.
He attributes the increased demand for Magnitech’s products from the continent’s mining industry, which it has serviced for the past 50 years, to the company being “solutionist thinkers, innovators and trend setters”.
Magnitech has supplied different types of lighting solutions to various African mining projects, supplying Vedanta Zinc’s Northern Cape- based Gamsberg project in February this year, and securing orders as far north as Mauritania and abroad in Australia and South America.
The company completed the supply of light fittings in April this year for Cobre Panama, a large openpit copper development project, in Panama. The project was specified by the mine’s owner, First Quantum Minerals, which also owns 80% of Africa’s largest copper mine, Kansanshi, in Zambia.
The lighting designs for the development project were a collaboration between the mine’s project teams in Perth, Australia, and Johannesburg, South Africa, and Magnitech, which supplied several LED products such as floodlights, highbays, streetlights and IP65 linear light fittings.
“There were certain challenges, such as a 277 V, 60 Hz supply voltage which is not common in the African mining sector. However, through team collaboration, we developed solutions to overcome this challenge,” concludes Vigus-Brown.