A second installation of a ropeway system to transport ore for a South African platinum mine is now fully operational. The system travels approximately 400 t a hector over a distance of 2.8 km and a difference in elevation of 160 m.
A RopeCon system has been transporting platinum ore in Booysendal since the end of 2018 and the second installation, Booysendal North, was handed over to the customer in December 2021.
The Booysendal North RopeCon discharges the material into the same silo from which the material is loaded onto the Booysendal South system, linking it in a continuous conveying line. Since early 2022, the second loading point along the line has also been in use. The option of an alternative loading point was provided at tower 2. A conventional feeder conveyor transports the material to the line where it is loaded directly onto the belt by means of a chute.
RopeCon is a technology developed by ropeway manufacturer Doppelmayr. The system offers the advantages of a ropeway and combines them with the properties of a conventional belt conveyor. It consists of a flat belt with corrugated side walls, and, as on conventional belt conveyors, the belt performs the haulage function. It is driven and deflected by a drum in the head or tail station and fixed to axles arranged at regular intervals to carry it. The axles are fitted with plastic running wheels which run on fixed anchored track ropes and guide the belt. The track ropes are elevated off the ground on tower structures.
The conveying system offers an advantage over the use of trucks to transport material, as the roads are very steep in the topographically challenging terrain. In addition, using the roads only for the transport of people and supplies reduces road wear and tear and maintenance costs.
By guiding the system over towers, the space required on the ground is limited to only the tower locations, helping to minimise the environmental footprint of the mine. The system also presents minimal obstacles for wildlife and humans, with the track crossing a number of roads and allowing wildlife to roam freely underneath.