Switchgear units supplied to DRC copper mine

Two ladies working on a group of electrical switchgear units

SWITCHING IT UP The contract to supply further switchgear units to the Kamoa-Kakula copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been awarded to Actom MV Switchgear

16th February 2024


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Switchgear manufacturer and supplier Actom MV Switchgear has been awarded a contract to supply the extensive new Kamoa-Kakula copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with power distribution supplier GELPAG’s solid insulated switchgear (SIS) units, which will be used in underground substations at the mine.

The contract was awarded subsequent to Actom MV Switchgear successfully executing two large contracts over the past two years involving the manufacture, supply and installation of numerous air-insulated switchgear (AIS) panels for 11 000 V substations at the mine.

In total, 233 of Actom MV Switchgear’s well-known and widely used SBV4E brand of AIS switchgear panels were produced and supplied to equip surface and underground substations at the new mine.

The order comprised 140 panels for eight surface substations and 93 panels for five underground substations.

The latest contract for 149 GELPAG SIS units for eight underground substations, awarded late in 2023 for delivery in August the same year, came about as a result of having to address changes in underground conditions at the mine as mining operations progressed.

“Harsh environmental conditions, such as high levels of humidity and dust, were found to be present in these underground sections, necessitating having to introduce more specialised switchgear equipped to cope with these conditions,” says Actom MV Switchgear design and development manager Rhett Kelly.

“In such a situation the choice is typically between fixed pattern gas-insulated switchgear (GIS) and SIS,” he says, adding that Actom MV Switchgear is confident in recommending global engineering firm DRA Global of South Africa – the engineering consultants for the Kamoa project – the GELPAG SIS product for this purpose.

With Actom MV Switchgear experiencing growing demand for GELPAG products since introducing it into the local market in late-2020, it recently arranged, in collaboration with its overseas-based original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partner, to start local manufacture of some of the product’s ancillary components.

“By taking this step we’ve substantially shortened the production lead times, as we can now manufacture the agreed locally produced components in parallel with the OEM’s production of the main product, thereby speeding up both final assembly of the product in our plant as well as delivery to the end-user,” says Kelly.

The Kamoa mine will be the first recipient of GELPAG panels in terms of the new arrangement.

“The components being manufactured locally now, and in the future, are the low voltage (LV) compartment, internal arc ducting and the drop-down boxes for the cable terminations,” says Actom MV Switchgear technology development specialist Johan Jordaan.

He adds that while not normally required for the GELPAG product range, custom drop-down boxes have been designed to accommodate the three-core cable terminations with core balance current transformers specified by the client.

“To further speed up and simplify production and delivery, we have developed an LV connector system which allows the panel’s circuit-breaker, disconnector and earth switch wiring to interface with the LV control wiring through a standard multi-pin plug-and-socket system,” adds Jordaan.

He concludes that Actom MV Switchgear has also developed a wiring test rig to enable it to test and verify the wiring of each LV compartment before the GELPAG panels are connected.

Edited by Donna Slater
Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer


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