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Vedanta Resources’ Gamsberg mine in the Northern Cape is South Africa’s largest current greenfields mining project, and will exploit one of the world’s largest zinc deposits. It is being developed at a capital cost of $400 million and is expected to produce 250,000 tonnes a year of zinc metal in concentrate.

Lead contractor ELB Engineering Services has already provided water from the Orange River to the process plant, through an upgraded pump station and a pipeline of about 40 kilometres. ELB is also responsible for supplying power from the existing Eskom switching yard via overhead lines to the mine, as well as constructing the process plant itself, which will cover all aspects from run-of-mine tip through to final product, including process dams and balance of plant.

Zest WEG Group continues Gamsberg projects

According to Dr Stephen Meijers, CEO at ELB Engineering Services, first product through the plant is expected by the middle of 2018, with the civil works being largely completed by the end of the second quarter of 2017. “Structural and mechanical construction on the plant is now starting to become the focus of work, and the pace will continue to be intense until middle of 2018.”

Meijers says that extreme temperatures on site – down to -10°C at night in winter and up to between 45° and 50° in summer during the day – have affected the design and the construction methodology. This has meant making optimal use of the cooler hours in summer, even pre-manufacturing as much as possible at night before placing during daylight hours.

Much of the project technology is being applied through exclusive partnerships with preferred suppliers. Zest WEG Group is one of these, working closely with ELB to standardise on its range of transformers and motors across a number of on-site applications.

Zest WEG Group’s scope of supply covers two main spheres – upgrading the municipal supply station providing water to the Gamsberg site, and the package for the mine’s zinc concentration plant and related processes. For this, Zest WEG Group supplied a number of non-standard products, providing the mechanical and design engineering necessary to ensure that the non-standard specifications could be met, including the redundancy requirements to ensure optimal plant uptime.

“The Gamsberg plant is a showcase for WEG motors and includes four different MV motor ranges that were fit-for-purpose in their different applications,” says Kirk Moss, Manager of the Medium Voltage business at Shaw Controls, a Zest WEG Group company. “These included our new W50 line, the HGF line, large slip-ring motors from our M line, and our W22 line of low voltage IE3 motors.”

He adds that energy efficiency is a key driver in the project design, with high efficiency W22 WEG IE3 motors being specified across the site. Zest WEG Group was therefore tasked with co-ordinating with all the original equipment manufacturers that would use motors to drive their equipment. This is to ensure that the principle of energy efficiency is fully applied across all aspects of the project scope, Moss explains.

“We are supplying all the LV motors for the plant, ensuring the project will save considerably on its energy cost by complying with the IE3 energy efficiency standard. These motors are also IP66 rated with Class H insulation, which enhances the IE3 specification by providing higher ingress protection and accommodating a higher temperature rise,” Moss says.

The MV Mill package being supplied for the plant is comprised of two large 6,5 MW WEG motors – MAF 11 kV slip ring units – specified for the ball and semi-autogenous (SAG) mills. The jaw crushers will be fitted with 11 kV 400 kW motors from WEG’s HGF line, and the plant’s distribution transformers will also be supplied by the company.

In the earlier stage of the project, Zest WEG Group provided eight 3,3 kV 550 kW medium voltage (MV) motors as well as locally designed and manufactured transformers to provide power to the pump stations. These were two 2,5 MVA transformers (reducing 11 kV down to 3,3 kV), as well as four 315 KVA (3,3 kV down to 400 V) units.

Image: https://www.vedanta-zincinternational.com/our-operations/gamsberg

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