Railway contractor undertakes various underground projects

29th March 2013

By: Chantelle Kotze


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Railway and civil engineering contractor Flint Construction, a division of the First Tech group of companies, aims to complete the refurbishment of the existing railway infrastructure at 7 Level of junior platinum miner Atlatsa Resources’ Bokoni platinum mine, located on the north-eastern limb of the Bushveld Complex, by September this year.

Flint Construction was awarded the R9.1-million contract in September 2011 to undertake the full refurbishment of the existing haulage infrastructure, comprising about 3 km of track, including the station areas of 7 Level and 9 Level of the mine’s vertical shaft. The refur- bishment of 9 Level is expected to be completed by February 2014.

Meanwhile, Flint Construction has recently completed various other long-term contacts with several mining houses in South Africa, as well as Africa. Contracts include Botswana government- and global nickel producer Norilsk Nickel-owned BCL; platinum producer Anglo Platinum’s Twickenham and Hackney’s mine 1 Level haulage, in Limpopo; London-listed Vedanta Resources-owned Konkola Copper Mines’ Nchanga copper mine, in Chililabombwe, on Zambia’s Copperbelt; and Zambia-based Mopani Copper Mine’s Mufulira mine, in Kitwe, Zambia.

Flint Construction founder and GM Keith Flint tells Mining Weekly that it is undertaking work at South African coal miner Anglo Coal, JSE- and NYSE-listed Sibanye Gold and gold producers Gold Fields and AngloGold Ashanti.

Flint Construction started work in October 2011 at the North shaft of Sibanye Gold’s Beatrix mine, in Welkom, in the Free State.

The R2.6-million contract, which is renewed yearly, entails the full refurbishment of the existing haulage infrastructure on the North shaft’s 26 Level on an ongoing basis.

Full haulage on 25 Level and 26 Level is under way and will be completed by October, says Flint.

Meanwhile, Flint Construction is also undertaking haulage rehabilitation on Gold Fields’ South Deep mine, situated about 45 km south-west of Johannesburg.

The maintenance contract started in 2009 and is ongoing.

Flint Construction started work for Anglo Coal in 2001 and performs maintenance on the existing underground railway infrastructure at the New Denmark colliery’s Okhozini and Central shafts, situated on the Highveld coalfields, near Standerton, on an ongoing basis. Periodic full rail refurbishment is also undertaken when required, notes Flint.

The company says it will also undertake construction of the trackwork, new haulage and drainage on 116 Level of the world’s third-largest gold mining com- pany, AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng mine, located on the West Wits Line, near the town of Carletonville, about 65 km south-west of Johannesburg.

The project will entail new works, carried out over two months, which will enable the mine to use rail-bound access to a proposed new substation.

Having been awarded distributor rights for the Graw range of electronic laser measuring devices for underground haulage control in the first quarter of 2011, Flint Construction believes that it is better equipped to undertake rail-track audit reporting for full compilation of quality assessment reports on the conditions of underground haulges.

The quality assessment report is based on four major parameters: Twist – the difference in vertical alignment of two rails at the same point in a track that causes a sideward rolling motion of locomotives and rolling stock; Cant – the constant vertical difference in height between two rails at the same point in a track; Gauge – the shortest distance between the internal vertical surfaces of the rail crowns; and misalignment – the deviation from the required horizontal alignment of both rails in the track at the same point, explains Flint.

He notes that faults within these para- meters are the major causes of most derailment incidents where human factors do not play a significant role. The para- meters are graphically represented to enable clients to quickly and accurately pinpoint the ‘hot spots’ in their systems that need immediate attention.

All other problem areas can also be incorporated into a planned maintenance schedule, with the added benefit of the measuring device being able to overlay the graphs for each measurement of a specific haulage on top of each other, to accurately measure progress made in the rehabilitation of the defects.

To date, Flint Construction has used the range of Graw electronic laser measuring devices to measure and produce a haulage condition report for a deep-level gold mine in the Free State.

With no disruptions to tramming cycles, about 3 km of haulage can be measured continuously on a shaft with two operators.

As a company that upgrades about 40 km of underground railway lines each year, Flint Construction aims to grow its underground track rehabilitation market share through a professional approach this year, which entails the benchmarking of its processes and performances as the industry’s best, and expanding its reach into the African continent.

It is also actively exploring new rail- bound transport methods which reduce risk in the deep-level mining environment, concludes Flint.

Edited by Megan van Wyngaardt
Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online


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