Apr 08, 2011
Engineering|Africa|CoAL|Eickhoff|Engineering News|Mining Weekly|Africa|America|Germany|Russia|South Africa|USD|Continuous Miner|Energy|Equipment|Mining|Product|Titanium Product|Buzz Aldrin|John Kennedy|Martin Creamer|Neil Armstrong|Nikita Khrushchev|Rob Davies|Sergei Korolev|Yuri Gagarin|Engineering News
© Reuse this
Gwala: South Africa is the real-life lab for new German mining equipment.
Creamer: Yes, this is a new way of doing it: don’t do everything in the lab, do it in the actual place where it happens. The German company Eickhoff, which is a family business, was founded in 1864 in Germany, right in the heart of coal country. Eickhoff is using our coalmines here to develop a new set of machines called continuous miners.
So, it brought out the prototypes and put the first prototype into the mines and it has gone already from good to great within the first model range.
It is a new way of doing things where you actually develop your product while they are being used, because then you get the good tips of what sort of improvements can be made and, at the same time, you are phoning the world and telling them you are developing a new product so that it can go into the market.
But, we’ve got it here, this continuous miner particularly because our form of mining is board-and-pillar mining. That is the way we mine and this is ideal for these continuous miners which cut into the coalface and fling the coal behind them and set it off on conveyor belts.
This German company, Eickhoff, has got eight of their prototypes in the market, backing them with a lot of people. They have 100 people with a third of them in the field to check on these things and using South Africa as a veritable lab.
Gwala: Another issue that has been worrying everybody well across the board, South Africa receiving a measly $400/t for product that it could sell for $100 000/t.
Creamer: This was emphasised by Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies. You can see the impatience developing and a lot of Ministers saying that we are giving away our birthright in South Africa.
The product he is referring to, of course, is the mineral sands, the titanium product that, when it becomes uplifted into titanium alloy, it has a marvellous price surge.
He is saying, “let’s get the benefit of that price in South Africa” and you can see him now gathering his forces. It is not only in South Africa. If you talk to any minerals Minister in Africa, if you talk to industry Ministers in Africa, they are all giving the same ‘b’ word, beneficiation.
Lets uplift. I think it’s a new era that we are entering into in South Africa and Davies is saying “let’s lead the show with this titanium uplift” that can also involve a plant that would deal with zirconium, vanadium, magnesium and silicon, but lets add value to these metals and minerals which we have in South Africa and instead of talking about it we have got to do it.
There is one huge constraint, energy. We know that we are entering into an energy problem and the government can talk as much as it likes, but if it doesn’t see to that energy it won’t happen.
If hasn’t got a business case it won’t happen. We know that the private sector needs to be led into this energy equation, because unless they start producing their own energy, we are not going to have things happening.
Gwala: Tuesday marks the 50th anniversary of a human being entering space for the very first time.
Creamer: This is incredible. April 12, 1961, into space went Yuri Gagarin. That was the first man to go into space. He was sent into space by a capsule blasted into space by the Russians.
It was the time of the cold war space race. At that stage the whole world wanted to be the first in space and the first on the moon. At that stage Nikita Khrushchev who was head of Russia wouldn’t even name who his engineering team was. The engineers had to rename nameless, he just referred to a chief commander.
Sergei Korolev only got named after his death, that’s how it was. But, the immediate response was from America and at that stage President John Kennedy said that they also want to get a man on the moon before the end of the decade. Of course, he was assassinated in November 1963.
But, it did happen, before the end of the decade, in 1969 the Americans got a man on the moon in July and that was Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. It just shows you how intense that race was during the cold war period. Now what we deal with are far more mundane issues like global warming and the problems in the eurozone.
Gwala: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly, he’ll be back with us at the same time next week.
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Updated 6 hours ago The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) would work with the office of the Afican National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Gwede Mathashe on a series of constructive engagements on improving the domestic economic climate and building a more...
Updated 6 hours ago JSE-listed investment and empowerment group Grand Parade Investments (GPI) and electronics contract manufacturer Tellumat have teamed up to create a 51:49 joint venture company Grand Tellumat Manufacturing. The transaction would see the engineering skills and...
Updated 6 hours ago JSE-listed property group Redefine Properties on Friday said its acquisition of all the assets and the property portfolio of Fountainhead Property Trust, had not been approved by the requisite majority of Fountainhead unitholders and would, therefore, not be...
Recent Research Reports
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Road and Rail 2014 (PDF Report)
This six-page brief covers key developments in the road and rail industries over the past 12 months, including details of South Africa’s road and rail network and prospects for both sectors.
This Week's Magazine
The multibillion-rand development of the Zendai Modderfontein New City, east of Johannesburg, will aim to exemplify an integrated city node, says property group Zendai South Africa COO Wenhui Du. The development will focus on the Modderfontein Gautrain station to be...
The South African Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) hopes to have finalised regulations for the flying of Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) – also designated Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS) and popularly called drones – in the country’s civilian airspace by the end...
Various stakeholders have expressed optimism that the Small Business Development Ministry, created after the national elections in May, will add much needed impetus to enterprise development in South Africa, where a strengthening of the entrepreneurial culture is...
Capturing and storing carbon dioxide (CO2) is the only way through which the world will achieve the lowest of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) global warming predictions, called the representative concentration pathway (RCP) 2.6....
The City of Johannesburg has recovered R107-million following the arrest of 22 people allegedly involved in corruption, collusion, fraud and tampering with the city’s electricity systems, which had ultimately cost the city R200-million in lost revenue.