Foundry and engineering company Thos Begbie has received multiple orders to manufacture components for the pyrometallurgical industry. The company continues to manufacture copper components for this industry despite the constraints of limited resources in the engineering industry.
“Copper is not only one of the best conductors of electricity but also has a high thermal conductive value. It is for this reason that the company manufactures its copper furnace components out of the highest-purity copper,” says Thos Begbie sales engineer Esli Bantjes.
He explains that using copper in smelters is vital because of its electrical and thermal conductivity. Thos Begbie manufactures highly conductive components to effectively carry the electrical charge with minimal resistance, thereby ensuring optimal furnace operation.
Moreover, some of the designs of smelters include the use of water-cooled copper components in the side and end-walls. “This ensures that the face of the cooler chills the slag, creating a freezeline or accretion layer on the copper. This is done to prevent the molten metal from burning through the wall components.”
However, the manufacturing of these copper components has been plagued by the same lockdown-related challenges, owing to Covid-19, affecting the broader mining industry.
Bantjes notes that Thos Begbie is regarded as an essential provider to the processing and refinery industry because it supplies critical components. “As such, we applied for and subsequently received permission to restart operations sooner than anticipated.”
He says “importing copper cathodes for our processes has been an obstacle during the Covid-19 pandemic, owing to all the South African borders being closed. We made special arrangements with one of the major copper refineries in Zambia to have the required copper ushered through the borders and to our premises in Middelburg, Mpumalanga”.
Further lockdown restrictions, specifically those pertaining to international flights, negated on-site customer inspections.
“Servicing the global pyrometallurgical industry has become a challenge, as the face-to-face aspect is no longer an option. However, the company has adapted and is using virtual platforms to conduct meetings, inspections and webinars,” concludes Bantjes.