Foundry and heavy engineering company Thos Begbie has been awarded a consecutive contract to do more component installations for the Sibanye-Stillwater platinum smelter plant, in the North West.
The shutdown is scheduled to start in early May and will take about two-and-a-half months. Completion of the installation and execution commissioning are expected in July.
“It will be the biggest contract awarded in South Africa for an installation of this kind,” claims Thos Begbie sales engineer Esli Bantjes.
The components Thos Begbie is manufacturing and installing are designed and patented technology of the company, most notably Tenova Pyromet’s composite graphite/copper MAXICOOL furnace that will be installed at one of the furnaces.
The components comprise copper water-cooled coolers, combined with graphite parts strategically situated to obtain the desired cooling; and thermal transmittance and power optimisation that will make the production of platinum more efficient.
The furnace assembly comprises 90 copper components combined with graphite, and the design of the furnace is an entirely new development in the smelting industry, says Bantjes.
“For Thos Begbie, it will also open a lot of doors in terms of [the] capabilities and services that we can offer to the smelting industry. Hopefully, Thos Begbie will be recognised as [one of] the preferred manufacturers of pyrometallurgical components, but also sought-after for the installation thereof.”
He states that the company’s market is a niche market and, owing to this, it falls under the criteria of specialised services.
Previously, the biggest hurdle for Thos Begbie to overcome before it could be regarded as the premier one-stop shop for the pyrometallurgical industry, was its provision of only limited on-site services for smelters because of the overhead expenditure that needed to be justified during the “quiet times”.
However, this has changed, Bantjes says, mentioning that the company can now meet all furnace requirements for the local market.
Thos Bebgie has about two months “to pull the project together” – this entails, for example, having all the employees ready, including medicals and training, such as working at height; conducting risk assessments; and completing file requirements in terms of safety, health, environment and quality.
The company recruited an experienced team for this project, to assist in the rebuilding
of the furnace after demolition of the old furnace, but will also continue to work on other on-site projects once the rebuild is complete, Bantjes adds.
“The team that we have recruited will work under the Thos Begbie flagship. If and when there aren’t any rebuilds to be conducted, this team has already established an alternative clientele that covers the day-to-day costs,” he concludes.