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Construction company contributes to DRC mine accommodation

BENEFICIAL CONSTRUCTION Moladi links with local communities so they can participate in the construction process enhancing job creation and skills development

INNOVATIVE INFRASTRUCTURE The plastic injection-moulded panel formwork clips together to form a structure, which can be used for a range of structures

SUCCESS IN MINING Owing to the success of implementing the Moladi system at Kamoa Copper, it was recommended that Moladi also provide accommodation for the Kamoa-Kakula smelter

2nd December 2022

By: Cameron Mackay

Creamer Media Senior Online Writer

     

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South African construction company Moladi has supplied its removable, reusable, recyclable and lightweight plastic formwork mould construction system for miner Ivanhoe Mines’ Kamoa copper mine, in Kolwezi in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The plastic injection-moulded panel formwork clips together to form a structure, which can be used for a range of buildings, such as houses and ablution blocks, says Moladi CEO Hennie Botes.

The appointed architects for the Kamoa copper mine introduced Moladi to the mine’s project team.

“The architects needed different types and sizes of accommodation, and a number of ablution blocks. Moladi links with local communities so they can participate in the construction process enhancing job creation and skills development. The mine appointed subcontractors that we had to train to assemble the structures,” he adds.

A range of moulds were supplied to construct accommodation that would house 3 200 beds, as well as 16 ablution blocks, for mine personnel.

The project involved Moladi’s working with architects, engineers and project managers on the mine to facilitate the efficient supply of the materials used for construction.

This is different from how the company generally approaches construction projects, as it typically acts independently, appoints its own engineers and manages its own supply chain, adds Botes.

“In this case, we were the technology supplier. This means that there needed to be a tremendous amount of explanation and training on how the Moladi system works. So, there was a learning curve for us to be exposed to this team effort. Once we produced the moulds locally, we shipped them – despite a few challenges with bottlenecks – to the mine.”

He says the structures that were built using Moladi’s system were completed in a relatively short period, compared with the time typically required for brick-and-mortar construction.

“There was an unexpected delay, from manufacturing to receipt on site, owing to the logistics of getting the container of moulds to the mine. Once the containers were packed and consolidated in Johannesburg, they were delivered by road to Kolwezi.”

Botes emphasises, however, that despite the delays in delivery, contractors adjusted well to the repetitive nature of the Moladi construction system, which helped to assemble the structures quickly and efficiently.

He enthuses that the mine was pleased with the speed of construction, as well as the quality, strength and cost of the structures. The roofing material, paint and finishing were also done by local contractors.

He stresses that, owing to the success of implementing the Moladi system at Kamoa Copper, it was recommended that the company also provide accommodation for people working at the Kamoa-Kakula smelter.

“We’ve been told that the demand for labour and accommodation at the smelter would be higher. We have sent about ten of our own workers to train local contractors and conduct skills transfer.”

Further, involvement in this project required the development and use of a specifically designed pump. The pumping process is normally labour intensive, but Moladi can mechanise it to “speed it up”, says Botes.

“Previously, we used an auger to assist with the formwork, but owing to the high volume that we needed to fill in the formwork, the auger couldn’t cope with the volumes. So, we met with an engineering firm, in Port Elizabeth, and developed a new Moladi piston pump – which is hydraulically operated – to assist with the higher volumes.”

Community Benefits

Botes emphasises the benefit of the Moladi system to local communities, as the company often hires local workers to assist with installation of the construction system, owing to the low skills requirement.

“This is also vital in terms of costs for the mine owner, as hiring skilled workers in African countries can be very expensive,” he adds.

Botes notes that the system presents manageable challenges similar to those of conventional building projects, such as time delays in delivering material to site, not having enough cement, and plaster thickness that varies and cracks in the structures.

“We’re proud to be given the opportunity to work with Kamoa and be exposed to the mining industry, as this project can snowball into other mining projects for us. At places like Kamoa, and other mines, workers would love to be able to live in the accommodation they’ve contributed to building because it is genuinely world class,” Botes concludes.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor

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