African buildings manufacturer Kwikspace Modular Buildings will supply a construction camp and site offices valued at R20-million for a Guinean gold project by mid-2017.
Kwikspace business development executive Nick Alexander says the 1 400 m² project includes accommodation for 120 personnel, male and female ablution facilities and site offices.
The buildings supplied by Johannesburg-based Kwikspace are assembled using fully insulated polyurethane-injected panels. The mobile units are fully prefabricated off-site, while the site-erected units – such as those used in the Guinea project – are constructed using modular components. “Kwikspace components are manufactured in a standardised factory environment, allowing for rapid assembly on site, thereby reducing the number of hours contractors spend on site,” Alexander comments.
He tells Mining Weekly that one of the most challenging aspects of the project was the average temperature in which construction work needed to take place, noting that this was partially mitigated by employing and training a local workforce, thereby ensuring that the site team was already acclimatised to working conditions. “It is a priority that we take care of our employees and contractors and make sure that they have a safe and well-resourced work environment.”
Despite the team being accustomed to the hot weather, Kwikspace strives to ensure that its members remain hydrated by providing a substantial breakfast and lunch during the construction period, he adds.
Kwikspace also dealt with the challenge of transporting the modular components to site. “Logistics are always difficult when transporting materials over long distances and a great deal of care is needed to ensure that all materials arrive on site on time and without any damage,” explains Alexander.
However, he says that the company’s strategically located facilities throughout Southern Africa, as well as the company’s “deep-rooted experience” with regard to working in Africa, enable it to overcome most logistical obstacles.
Recently Completed Projects
Kwikspace completed a 4 000 m² project for a platinum producer in Zimbabwe earlier this year.
Alexander says Kwikspace was approached in 2015 to design, supply and assemble prefabricated modular units on site to accommodate the project’s urgent requirement for additional site personnel involved in refurbishment works.
After some delays, Kwikspace delivered accommodation facilities, kitchens and diners, a laundry, recreational facilities, a gymnasium and office space.
Kwikspace was also awarded a contract last year to supply a clinic and office units for a graphite project in northern Mozambique.
While working on the project, the technical benefits of the product became apparent to the client and Kwikspace secured additional on-site work. This included the supply of lightweight roofing for staff accommodation and additional units for a contractor’s camp, as well as site buildings for the mine’s plant area, which is currently under way.
Alexander highlights that the company’s branches in Mozambique ensured that Kwikspace could offer a convenient solution using local materials and contractors. “The client was pleased with the high quality of Kwikspace’s panelling, workmanship, installations and customer-orientated approach. We were also able to supply a pioneer camp, enabling Kwikspace’s staff to be on site 24 hours a day, thereby significantly reducing site-related costs to the client regarding the development of the mine.
Alexander notes that Kwikspace had to ensure that it adhered to tight production deadlines while delivering all the structures. “Any setback could delay mining works, resulting in significant cost implications for our client,” he says, highlighting the need to pay special attention to logistics to ensure delivery on time, as logistics in Mozambique can be problematic, at times.
Other challenges presented by the project included the stringent mining health and safety regulations on site. “The inherent high-risk nature of any mining operation means that strict regulations need to be in place. Adhering to these regulations, while ensuring that work is delivered in a timely manner, requires a professional approach.”
Alexander reports that, although the number of active mining projects in Africa has decreased over the past two years, the company has adapted to remain sustainable, despite supplying smaller, less frequent projects. “When mining slowed, we also put more effort into securing work in the infrastructure, education and healthcare sectors, where there is ample demand.”
Kwikspace also expanded its business to other countries in Africa, including Zambia and additional branches in Mozambique, to explore opportunities further afield. “So, for example, when the opportunity arose to provide site accommodation [for the Mozambique project], we were perfectly placed to quickly service the client’s requirements.”
Alexander notes that the company has a full-time research and development department investigating new construction systems and methods involving alternative modular construction materials.
However, he stresses that most of its clients are still looking for conventional prefabricated and mobile structures. “We also have an ongoing improvement programme focused on our traditional products, but most of our attention is focused on understanding the needs of our customers, speed of delivery and the quality of our support services.”