Transport group eyes Copperbelt

3rd December 2021 By: Halima Frost - Reporter

Transport group eyes Copperbelt

POWER PUSH The use of electric power vehicles in the mining sector is being successfully pushed further up into the Central African region by Unitrans

Specialist logistics group Unitrans Africa plans to use its copper handling success in Botswana as a launchpad to enter into mining operations in the Copperbelt of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Our recent success in on-mine copper materials handling and pit development, paired with a strong balance sheet and access to capital, enables the company to execute multiple large-scale mining contracts in the region,” Unitrans Africa CEO Rob Hayworth tells Mining Weekly.

The company has extensive experience and proven expertise in mobilising the necessary equipment in remote locations, which makes the company “well suited to carrying out complex work at any given high-grade deposit”.

Having recognised the Copperbelt’s significance for African mining expansion and beneficiation, owing to the increased global demand for copper, the company is looking to grow its footprint in the region as well as increase the range of services it offers the African continent.

The increased demand for more copper has partially been attributed to the advent of electric vehicles (EVs), which use copper for batteries and wiring.

Unitrans Africa has invested substantially in the development of electric mining vehicles which, when used at mine sites, will decrease the mines’ ecological footprint.

“We are in the final stages of research into several innovative offerings, including our electric mining vehicles, which will be revealed soon,” he adds.

EVs, and real-time stockpile management and reporting, are only two examples of Unitrans Africa’s long-term vision, with the company now using drones in stockpile management and asset tracking.

The company’s bespoke designed trailers, suited to the specific needs of a mine, paired with the use of road trains, can significantly increase payloads and reduce the required fleet size.

“This results in reduced emissions and costs for the mine owner,” Hayworth says.

Unitrans Africa’s solutions have a positive impact on the regions in which it operates, as well as its regional partners, especially because the company uses local labour and is committed to reducing total project emissions.

Its road trains have the unique ability to each handle up to 140 t of payload while increasing safety standards and decreasing the environmental impact; the latter is achieved through reduced emissions on a net project basis, owing to a reduction in fleet size.

“It’s for these reasons that road trains occupy pole position in Unitrans Africa’s bold take on the future – one that is possible because of the company’s proven end-to-end capabilities,” he stresses.

He adds that the company’s pit-to-port capability is a major strength, which is also where its immediate focus lies, allowing mines to focus on mining and processing activities while the mined material moves securely from the pit extraction to offloading at the port.

Its

footprint includes Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Lesotho, Tanzania and Madagascar.

This presence makes the company one of the largest materials handling and logistics operations on the continent.