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Sep 10, 2010

Work on track at Medupi – JV partner

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Structural steelwork producer A Leita Steel Construction reports that its involvement in State-owned power utility Eskom’s Medupi power station project is on track.

The company is in a joint venture (JV), referred to as the ABC JV, with structural steel contractor Boksan Projects and steel construction and engineering company Cadcon Engineering. The lead contractors on the project are heat transfer equipment supplier GEA Air Cooled Systems and Kentz South Africa, the Southern African arm of Aim-listed engineering and construction company Kentz Group.

The ABC JV will supply about 26 000 t of structural steelwork for Medupi’s air-cooled condenser units, including hot-dip galvanising and delivery on site, says A Leita Steel Construction commercial director Johan Greyling.

Although the contract had a slow start in 2008, a significant effort by, and commitment from, the JV partners resulted in the contract being brought back on track and completion is now expected ahead of schedule, he says. The ABC JV was also contracted to undertake the connection design and the shop detailing, which are now complete.

Jwaneng Expansion Project
A Leita Steel Construction started fabri- cating the structural steelwork for the Cut 8 expansion project, at the Jwaneng diamond mine, in Botswana, under contract to Kentz, in April. Greyling says that the fabrication of about 2000 t of structural steel for the earthmoving vehicle workshop should be complete by the end of August.

Jwaneng, which is owned by Debswana, a JV between diamond giant De Beers and the government of Botswana, is the largest diamond mine in the world by production value. The expansion project will extend the life of the Jwaneng mine by seven years, to at least 2025.

Further, A Leita Steel Construction also supplied 50% of the roof steelwork for the Mbombela stadium, in Mpumalanga province, and the Peter Mokaba stadium, in Limpopo province, excluding the main girder on the latter stadium. Through its involvement in the stadium projects, the company has gained local and interna- tional exposure, he says.

New Developments
A Leita Steel Construction is a member of the Southern African Institute of Welding (SAIW). The company is considering obtaining ISO 3834 certification (quality require- ments for fusion welding of metallic materials) through the SAIW, as it believes that it is already compliant with the requirements.

Meanwhile, during the past three years, the company has installed several auto- mated steelwork fabrication machines. These include the Ficep Tipo ‘A’ 3-m × 12-m × 130-mm-thick computer numeric controller (CNC) plate machine, the Ficep 1 030-mm CNC beam line, the Ficep 1201 robotic coping automatic CNC thermal coping line for sections and the 150-mm Peddimat CNC Anglemaster.

The FabTrol steel fabrication manage- ment software and the newly installed equipment are enabling the company to supply a high-quality product to clients in a shorter time, he says. The Fabtrol soft- ware has integrated estimating, drawing management, material management and production management functions, besides others.

The Risk of Importing
Greyling says that the steel price de-escalation by local steel mills has had a negative effect on the company’s revenue.

He says that the quality of steel products from some mills has deteriorated, which has prompted the company to import steel. However, while there were initial savings in this strategy, the company imports at higher prices and gets lower escalation indexes when it later invoices clients.

He says that, despite the boom that South Africa experienced in the past few years, the market has changed, and is shrinking rapidly. However, the company is confident that it will remain a key supplier of structural steel to all sectors of the market owing to the personal involvement of its top management in projects.

Edited by: Brindaveni Naidoo
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