The mining industry is seeing early signs of improvement as investors have started looking into investing in mining projects once again, particularly in South and Southern Africa, according to Richard Späth, TAKRAF Africa‘s General Manager – Technologies, but he cautions that the improving market conditions will be seen more in the medium- than in the short-term.
The Kusile contract is thel argest materials handling project TAKRAF Africa has received to date.
One of the strongest indicators of the improving market conditions, adds Späth, is the noticeable shift from feasibility study work to bankable feasibility study work. This positive sentiment is further emphasised by the cautious optimism experienced at the recent Mining Indaba held in February this year in Cape Town.
In the meantime, says Späth, aftermarket support and spares remain TAKRAF Africa’s ‘bread and butter’ as mining companies continue to focus on ‘sweating their assets’ in what remains a depressed and capital constrained economy.
In 2018, TAKRAF Africa’s aftermarket support unit, TAKRAF Client Support Services, experienced its best order intake year ever, and, similarly, this year, 2019, has seen the busiest January ever. “Major modifications to upgrade existing TAKRAF machines as well the ongoing Bradford Breaker project are just some of the work contributing to our Client Support Services’ healthy balance sheet.
“An additional upside of this steady and buoyant demand for aftermarket support is the ‘breathing space’ it provides TAKRAF Africa to position itself to take full advantage of the anticipated revival of capital projects when this occurs.”
On the projects side, while demand throughout the sector remains muted, TAKRAF Africa has been winning some interesting new contracts.
“For example, we have just landed an order for a roller-supported scrubber for a marine diamond mining vessel. These scrubbers are used to break down or wash off clay and other contaminants on the hard or crystalline minerals and rock, prior to processing. While our air environmental technologies have seen ongoing demand from the diamond sector, this sector has been generally quiet across the market for some years now and the order for this scrubber is an exciting indication of a strengthening diamond market.
“While coal, at the moment, remains the most active sector for us, other commodities such as platinum and copper are showing promising signs for TAKRAF Africa’s business.”
Robust Tenova DELKOR brand
A key differentiator of TAKRAF Africa is the range of technologies it is capable of offering to the mining industry over the entire mining and minerals value chain. With the integration of the well-known DELKOR and Tenova Advanced Technologies (formerly Bateman Advanced Technologies) brand of products into TAKRAF, the company’s portfolio for the mineral processing and beneficiation sectors has been considerably enhanced.
“The DELKOR suite of solid/liquid and gravity separation technologies is an important component in our technology mix, enabling us to offer a range of mineral processing technologies from flotation, sedimentation and filtration to screening.
“In 2018, the global demand for DELKOR products was particularly strong, reaffirming the strength of the DELKOR brand. With the growing international uptake of DELKOR technologies, we anticipate a positive impact on the local Southern Africa market as we look to strengthen our ties with DELKOR projects globally.”
Recent local projects include commissioning of four DELKOR thickeners retrofitted into a coal project for a global diversified resources group, with a further order being received for an additional spare drive. In addition, an order for two spare drives for the two DELKOR thickeners installed at one of DELKOR’s largest global thickener installations in Madagascar was recently received.
Leveraging Tenova TAKRAF’s global expertise and engineering capabilities, TAKRAF Africa and its clients benefit from the broader range of expertise and skillsets such a global company has to offer; starting with Research & Development (R&D) all the way through to design and engineering, fabrication, installation, commissioning and aftersales support.
“We are increasingly collaborating with TAKRAF’s Indian design and engineering office where the focus is on smaller, more nimble machines more suited to Africa’s mining environment. Furthermore, a recent contract for a reverse pulse bag filter system for a TAKRAF grab-type ship unloader, received as an inter-company order, has also highlighted the considerable potential for TAKRAF Africa’s specialised air pollution control technologies being applied across TAKRAF’s global offering.”
Delivering on expectations
“TAKRAF Africa’s existing order book is healthy, ever increasing and we continue to deliver on our clients’ expectations,” says Späth. “A fast track conveyor project for a power station’s tippler extraction system is currently being commissioned, while our scope of work at the Eskom Kusile project is progressing ahead of schedule. The stockyard and limestone materials handling systems are complete and the terrace-handling package is well advanced. The three packages together include 79 conveyors, over a distance of 16 km, and the installation of 13 machines.”
Both the dual wagon rotary tippler, designed in collaboration with Ashton Bulk of the UK, and five apron feeders have been delivered to site for a major iron ore project in South Africa. The materials handling contract covers an 8 000 t/h tippler, together with the ancillary equipment (hopper, apron feeders and positioners), and a 98 m3/h TAKRAF reverse pulse bag filter system.
On the air environmental side, a ground-breaking Boiler Emissions Abatement (BEA) plant project is reaching conclusion. The BEA plant is believed to be the first of its kind in Africa, and aims to reduce boiler flue gas emissions and minimise residual waste coming from plant operations, ensuring minimal environmental impact from waste handling or disposal.
Following the supply of two load-out (loading) stations for a coal project in Mozambique, TAKRAF Africa is applying its load-out station technology to a leading cement producer in South Africa. The contracts cover material handling for the loading of clinker onto rail and road transport systems and for the rail unloading side at a clinker storage facility. In a third contract, TAKRAF Africa is also supplying the material handling system for a fly ash classification plant.
Further north, TAKRAF Africa’s dense phase pneumatic conveying technology has been in demand with a system supplied for a platinum smelter in Zimbabwe. This is the second dense phase conveying system to be supplied to Zimbabwe in recent years.
In other work, two granulators have been supplied to a new coal mine in South Africa, continuing the steady demand for granulators that TAKRAF Africa has seen in recent years.
While TAKRAF Africa is firmly rooted in the mining industry, the company has always been fortunate to offer technologies that attract strong demand across a variety of industrial sectors. An example of this, according to Späth, is a complete woodchip conveying package that is being supplied to a cellulose production facility, covering trough and Redler en-masse chain conveyors, transfer towers and related systems.
Ahead of the innovation curve
Recent innovation successes include the early uptake by two junior miners of the semi-mobile Bradford Breaker supplied by TAKRAF Africa under licence to Terrasource Global of the USA. These machines have seen incremental but far-reaching improvements over the decades by TAKRAF Africa, tailoring them to the increasingly demanding local conditions and these semi-mobile versions now offer the benefits of the traditional breaker in a more compact and cost-effective machine.
The TAKRAF primary and secondary mineral sizer has also generated considerable interest, with the latest addition being the X-TREME Class Sizer range. These extreme machines are able to handle material typically considered to be outside the application window of a standard sizer due to high levels of hardness and abrasiveness, as well as large fragment sizes.
Leveraging TAKRAF’s history dating back 294 years and a 100-year long heritage in Southern Africa as a Bateman company before being acquired by the Tenova Group in 2012, TAKRAF Africa continues to build upon a client base that features the majority of the high profile projects in the sector, while still servicing the smaller scale operations with cost-effective solutions.
“While projects such as Eskom’s Kusile showcase the company’s ability to handle mega and complex projects, supply of the semi-mobile Bradford Breaker to junior miners, Overlooked and Black Wattle collieries, aptly demonstrates TAKRAF Africa’s ability to tailor its solutions to its clients’ needs.”