Ten large steel tanks for diversified miner RioZim’s Cam and Motor gold mine, in Zimbabwe, are on schedule to be installed by South African stainless steel fabrication and erection specialist Betterect, as part of the mine’s gold processing plant expansion.
This is notwithstanding inherent challenges and delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
On completion of the expansion project, the Cam and Motor mine’s monthly production will increase from 80 kg to 167 kg, making it the largest gold mine in Zimbabwe – as well as the only refractory gold ore treatment plant in the country.
The RioZim steel tank fabrication project started in July last year and is making excellent progress, taking the industry-wide and unavoidable Covid-19 pandemic-related delays into account, says Betterect.
Mpumalanga-based stainless steel producer Columbus Stainless, Africa’s only stainless steel mill, has supplied 250 t of grade 2304 duplex steel for the project; while South African steel and aluminium supplier Stalcor is responsible for processing the material.
Betterect MD Nicolette Skjoldhammer says the company is fabricating numerous tanks at its Johannesburg facility for transportation and installation at the RioZim operation, while the largest tanks, which are 12 m in diameter and 12.7 m high, are being built on site.
She explains that this approach reduces the safety risks inherent in on-site work, as well as the logistical risk factors associated with cross-border, in-country work, such as obtaining the required in-country work permits, managing of export and customs requirements, the issuing of bonds and cross-border site establishment.
The tanks comprise two types, namely bulk standard and Outotec OKTOP atmospheric reactor units manufactured from carbon and duplex stainless steel, including design integration of the original BIOX technology developed and owned by project designers Outotec.
BIOX is a robust, easy to operate and sustainable technology for the treatment of refractory gold concentrates.
The front end of the refractory gold ore treatment plant will have a nameplate capacity of 2 500 t/d and the BIOX tanks will treat 100 t/d of flotation concentrate.
Betterect has also been appointed as the only structural mechanical piping and platework contractor on the project and, as such, will be fabricating and installing all structural steel, piping, mechanical and process equipment accordingly.
By using locally-sourced South African steel to fabricate the tanks, Betterect has reduced the overall project lead time by six to eight weeks.
Skjoldhammer adds that the smooth supply of the steel material by Betterect’s South African partners Columbus and Stalcor contributed to the overall project success.
“The project underlines that Betterect and our partners have a competitive advantage in undertaking projects in Africa for both local and international clients.
“We are proud of the ‘Team Africa’ nature of the RioZim project, which is being delivered by a South African team of suppliers to an African project.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed widespread economic dependence on Asian products, but the RioZim collaboration highlights how local industrial supply chains can drive African growth, she adds.
“This happens when companies focusing on the supply, processing, fabrication and erection of steel structures join forces to deliver pan-African infrastructure projects in the mining, power generation, petrochemicals and other industries.”
Betterect has a sound record of supplying pan-African mining and energy projects with large steel equipment and infrastructure. Its milestone projects include the delivery of seven stainless steel thickeners for a project in the Democratic Republic of Congo; the fabrication and installation of thickeners for the Swakopmund uranium mine, in Namibia; and the fabrication and installation of structural steel and tanks for a gas-fired power plant in Mozambique.
“The RioZim BIOX project serves as a great example and reference point in promoting African steel products and fabrication services to the pan-African market, and is a showcase for what Team Africa can collectively achieve,” says RioZim group COO Manit Shah.
Skjoldhammer adds that the success of the RioZim project is not only attributable to Betterect’s substantial experience of working in the steel sector locally and in Africa for over 40 years but also to its partnership with local steel suppliers.
“The sterling-quality material and processing capabilities which are available in South Africa – together with Betterect’s expertise in manufacturing large equipment and steel structures for the mining sector – has formed a productive partnership to the ultimate benefit of our client,” she concludes.