Online hub launched to boost home-grown mining equipment development

12th November 2020 By: Donna Slater - Creamer Media Staff Writer and Photographer

Online hub launched to boost home-grown mining equipment development

To increase local manufacturing and the attractiveness and awareness thereof, the Mandela Mining Precinct (MMP) and the Mining Equipment Manufacturers of South Africa (Memsa) have launched the Technology Availability and Readiness Atlas (Tara).

The launch on November 12 coincided with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research's (CSIR’s) seventh biennial conference, held in Pretoria, as well as virtually.

The MMP – with a focus on the domestic development of modern mining equipment – is a public-private research, development and innovation partnership. Government is represented by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE).

From industry's side is the Minerals Council South Africa.

Tara is an online portal showcasing locally manufactured mining equipment, enabling original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and mining component suppliers to demonstrate their current commercially available technologies.

The MMP, funded by the DSI and the Minerals Council, developed the portal with the aim of providing the mining industry with a central access point into the capabilities and offerings of local OEMs, showcasing technologies and equipment offered by local OEMs, and creating a central platform for local suppliers to access the local mining supply chain.

DSI technology localisation, beneficiation and advanced manufacturing chief director Beeuwen Gerryts says the department expects the portal to raise awareness of locally produced technology within the industry.

“The idea of Tara is also rooted in making the country’s mines safer, more efficient and cost-effective.”

Minerals Council modernisation and safety senior executive Sietse van der Woude states that the council supports localisation as long as it is globally competitive, feasible and practical.

MMP is uniquely positioned to have developed Tara, building on its mandate of encouraging mining research and development and innovative collaboration amongst a diverse group of stakeholders, ranging from organised labour, research, product developers and manufacturers, and regulatory entities such as government, mining companies, and related industry bodies.

MMP real-time information management systems programme manager Jean-Jacques Verhaeghe says the organisation understands and is able to address the unique challenges associated with the merging of the distinct but mutually-dependent worlds of research, testing, finding solutions, and development and manufacturing.

Tara is one of the significant developments in Verhaeghe’s research programme, enabling the extension of the technology and product lifecycle and its management from conceptual and applied research, to product commercialisation and go-to-market. 

“The beauty lies in the fact that the loop, from commercial product, back into research, is enabled, but addressed by the different stakeholders along the journey,” he says.

Memsa was involved throughout the development process, providing input on the system from the perspective of OEMs.

“A considerable portion of capital and operational expenditure is spent on a yearly basis and OEMs need all the assistance they can get to satisfy this requirement. Fit, form and function of products is a key requirement for efficient and effective mining practices. Tara is a great enabler to achieve these targets,” says Memsa director Ossie Carstens.

Memsa chairperson Freddy Mugeri explains that Tara answers all the questions procurement managers and other stakeholders may have regarding who is a locally owned manufacturer.

“What do they manufacture and how do we find them? Can they help us achieve our Mining Charter goals? The benefit of exposure provided by Tara will result in growth of the local mining equipment manufacturing sector and the creation of numerous jobs in South Africa and the rest of the African continent.”

Verhaeghe explains that future development plans for Tara include expanding the product and services offering range to not just mining equipment, such as haulage trucks, drills and support, but to also local real-time information management system solutions, such as underground network communications, cyber-physical systems, software and systems integration options, artificial intelligence, edge computing solutions and positioning and tracking systems.