Regulation change encourages investment

24th February 2023

By: Cameron Mackay

Creamer Media Senior Online Writer


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Most accidents that occur on mine sites involve heavy equipment, vehicles and workers.

This prompted the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to this year bring into effect Chapter 8 of the Mine Health and Safety Act Trackless and Mobile Machinery (TMM) Regulations, specifically in terms of Level 9 vehicle intervention for collision avoidance systems (CAS) in TMM at surface and underground mines.

Consequently, Spanish technology company Torsa Global has noted growing interest in CAS and health and safety products in local mining, encouraging the company to capitalise on this interest by opening a branch in Johannesburg.

Until now, support for its South African customers has been provided from Torsa’s headquarters, in Spain.

“Our intention is to make the South African branch our hub to support customers in sub-Saharan Africa. The local branch already has all type of profiles, from technical and sales individuals, to research and development engineers to help us tailor our products to local requirements,” states Torsa business development director Gabino de Diego.

He points out that under Chapter 8 of the TMM Regulations, mobile machinery must be fitted with technologies that automatically detect the presence of any pedestrian or machine within its vicinity.

Moreover, the technologies must then visually and audibly alert the operator to the potential risk (Level 7), and deliver an advisory instruction, considered a Level 8 intervention.

If an operator does not act to prevent a potential collision, the CAS must ensure that the brakes are automatically applied and the TMM comes to a “safe stop”, which is a Level 9 intervention.

De Diego notes that Torsa’s high-precision CAS offers centimetre precision, owing to combining several technologies, including three-dimensional light detection, and ranging and global positioning system technologies.

The system is also equipped to meet stipulations for Level 7, 8 and 9 interventions.

Data suggests that the outlook South Africa is promising, and that 2023 could be the “tipping year” for CAS deployment.

Research company GlobalData’s latest mine site survey of 138 mines globally – conducted between December 2021 and February 2022 – indicated that 47% of mines had invested moderately in collision avoidance, while 49% expected to either invest in the technology for the first time or further invest over the next two years.

De Diego adds that respondents from Australasia and Africa were most likely to have fully invested in collision avoidance, with 59% in Africa having at least made a moderate investment.

Moreover, Torsa’s vibration monitoring system – which has been praised by diversified major BHP for reducing work absenteeism reports by 80% in a year – will also be made available to the African market, he highlights.

He emphasises that Torsa, with more than 25 years of experience, has been providing products and services to the mining sector since 2016. This has also translated into “millions of hours of uninterrupted work in some of the most important surface and underground mines in Latin America”.

The company’s products have won several awards and are trusted by leading miners such as Glencore and BHP, which are both present in South Africa.

Torsa’s target is to offer – to the local market – the “success stories that have already been realised throughout Latin America”.

De Diego says the local market is relatively mature.

“Customers are savvy and demand the highest quality from their solutions. We have consolidated a great local team of engineers who understand the requirements and demands of the local mining and exploration industry. Our products have been designed in the mine and for the mine, not in a laboratory.”

Torsa sends its engineers to end-users to design a system in collaboration with them. This approach has provided the company with valuable feedback, and allowed for mitigating operational challenges by tailoring products to operator requirements.

Further, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Spanish President Pedro Sánchez, during the latter’s official visit to the country in October 2022, signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation regarding Industry 4.0.

De Diego contends that the emphasis is on mining as a strategic sector because Spain, in supporting causes, such as electrification, relies on mining and the extraction of key metals.

An example of Spain’s commitment is the support that Torsa received from the Spanish Embassy and the External Commerce Institute when establishing its South African branch.

Torsa’s CAS will be beneficial from the first vehicle installed. Thanks to our local branch, we can respond to customer needs in a timely manner, as well as prepare proofs of concept,” he concludes.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor



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