JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) - In what could be the single-largest contract awarded to construction major Murray & Roberts (M&R) since the Eskom power build programme, M&R subsidiary M&R Cementation has secured a R2.6-billion contract to develop an underground mine beneath diamond major De Beers’ openpit Venetia mine, in Limpopo.
The contract will see M&R developing the entire underground mine and will include the sinking, equipping and commissioning of a decline shaft and two vertical shafts; horizontal tunnel development to provide access to and the establishment of loading levels; as well as the development of associated ventilation, ground and water handling infrastructure.
M&R group CEO Henry Laas said on Tuesday that the group’s local project team would be complemented with project management and operational capacity from its cementation mining companies in Australia and Canada.
The “more advanced” Canadian shaft-sinking methodology would be used for sinking the vertical shafts, with M&R subsidiary Cementation Canada providing specialist training for the shaft sinking crews.
“The Canadian shaft-sinking model is designed for all activities in the shaft-sinking production cycle to be undertaken in-line. Although good sinking rates are possible with this methodology, the primary drive in the transition to this methodology is improved safety, as no concurrent shaft-sinking activities are required,” Laas explained.
The Venetia mine is currently South Africa's largest producer of diamonds, contributing 40% of the country's yearly production.
De Beers expects to invest about R20-billion in the Venetia underground mine to extend its life to beyond 2040, with the conversion from an openpit to underground operation expected to begin in 2021.