Bulk materials handling solutions provider ELB Engineering Services will undertake construction of the longest materials handling conveyor in South Africa for coal miner Sasol Mining’s Impumelelo colliery, in Secunda, Mpumalanga.
ELB Engineering CE Dr Stephen Meijers tells Mining Weekly that the engineering design, procurement and construction (EPC) contract entails the construction of a 27-km-long single-flight conveyor system, with a nominal conveying rate of 2 400 t/h at full operation, for the transportation of coal from the mine to the Sasol Synfuels plant, also in Secunda.
The materials handling system will transport coal at a 17° incline from an underground surge bunker by means of an incline conveyor to the surface.
The system will then extract the coal from a 15 000 t surface-based coal-bunkering system and transport it to a 4 000 t bunker, from where it will be fed onto the main coal-supply conveyor to the synfuels plant.
The 27 km overland conveyor uses technology developed by ELB’s US-based belt conveyor and transfer-chute systems technology partner, Conveyor Dynamics Incorporated (CDI).
“We believe we have one of the best technology partners for this contract because, together, ELB and CDI supply the project with rubber viscoelastic technology, improved belt power and strength efficiencies, belt-life extension technology as well as dynamic conveyor analysis,” says Meijers.
Meanwhile, the greenfield project, which was awarded in May, is currently in the engineering phase and is expected to run for 27 months, says Meijers.
He adds that besides the EPC contract work undertaken by ELB Engineering Services, the ELB group of companies will also complete all the construction work, commissioning and project management using its in-house expertise.
Meijers says it is too early to provide a detailed project timetable but expects the engineering to take about nine months to complete, with the civil components having arrived on site this month.
Impumelelo Mine Background
Engineering and management consulting firm Read, Swatman & Voigt Energy and Coal Consulting (RSV Enco), in joint venture (JV) with consulting engineering firm Goba, was awarded the EPC management of the Impumelelo project in September 2009.
The RSV Enco Goba Coal JV has established site at the R5-billion Impumelelo project, which will initially supply 8.5-million tons a year of coal, which is expandable to 10.5-million tons a year, to the Sasol Synfuels plant.
The Impumelelo mine will supply Sasol’s coal-to-liquids operations in Secunda, replacing Sasol Mining’s existing coal mine, Brandspruit.
Impumelelo is scheduled to start supplying coal to Sasol Synfuels in the fourth quarter of 2014.
The scope of the project handled by the JV entails the complete establishment of the coal mine complex.
This includes all the technical elements, namely personnel, material and ventilation shaft systems; surface shaft infrastructure comprising buildings, roads, dams and sewers; a coal handling system; underground development and infrastructure; as well as surface services like potable water, access roads, service water and power.
Safety is critical in ELB’s execution of the Impumelelo contract, says Meijers. He adds that the safe execution of the entire project and a materials handling system that can operate safely and reliably, as well as deliver on the return expected by the customer, are key to the success of the project.
ELB says it has, in recent years, had a high level of activity in the coal industry.
The company has completed work on the coal handling and processing plant at Coal of Africa’s Vele colliery, on the northern border of Limpopo, and has rebuilt Maamba colliery’s coal handling, processing and washing plant, in Zambia, which has been completed and handed over to Maamba.
Further, ELB has successfully completed work on a Maputo-based coal terminal and supplied and commissioned ship loaders for the terminal.
ELB will also construct coal-feed conveyors leading to the boilers at State-owned power utility Eskom’s Medupi power station, which is currently under construction, in Limpopo.
The Medupi materials handling project includes the provision and establishment of conveyors extending over about 11.5 km, says Meijers.
“ELB, as a purely South African-owned company, is privileged to handle a project of this size, as few conveyors of this length are in operation globally,” he concludes.