Modern Mining

2017 ended on a high note for TAKRAF Africa on a wide range of fronts, with the year-end results testimony to the successful implementation of the turnaround strategy the company initiated some three years previously.

On the financial front, TAKRAF Africa exceeded its sales targets, comfortably meeting profit and turnover targets for 2017, says the company’s GM for Engineering, Richard Späth. He adds that during the year, TAKRAF Africa delivered on high-profile projects, successfully bidding for a number of new contracts and seeing good demand in particular from the energy and export terminals sectors.

According to Späth, while the demand from these two sectors has given TAKRAF Africa the momentum to carry the successes of 2017 forward, the next phase is to renew its focus on – and increase its penetration into – the mining sector, particularly in light of the more positive outlook for the industry.

With the success of its Mpumalanga and Northern Cape satellite offices, TAKRAF Africa also continued during 2017 to expand its product support infrastructure with a satellite office opening in the Western Cape.

“These satellite offices bring our client support services right to the ‘doorstep’ of our client base,” says Späth. “Going forward, therefore, we are looking to expand our satellite offices into neighbouring countries as well.”

Headquartered in Kempton Park, Johan­nesburg, TAKRAF Africa draws on its heritage dating back to the early years of the 20th century, servicing the local mining industry as part of the Bateman group before it was acquired in 2012 by Tenova.

“Such longevity of operation has not only given us an extensive track record of projects, but also provides our clients with the peace of mind that we will be around to support our projects and products over their complete product lifecycle,” Späth emphasises. “In 2017, for example, we replaced a TAKRAF dynamic scrubber that was installed at a diamond mine in Botswana in 1998 but which had reached the end of its economic life due to normal wear and tear.”

A further advantage that TAKRAF Africa brings to the marketplace is its experience. While the company has a young and energetic team, it has also managed to attract and retain well-known specialists in the fields in which it operates.

Investing in upliftment

Other major developments in the year included TAKRAF Africa’s accreditation as a level 2 Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) company, with the company having received particularly high scores in terms of Black ownership and enterprise and supplier development.

“While we are proud of this achievement, which is relatively unique in our market sector, for us empowerment is so much more than simply a regulatory or legislative requirement. For TAKRAF Africa, empowering and uplifting our communities is a philosophy – a way of doing business that we carry through to all our projects beyond the borders of South Africa.

“The end goal for us is not the B-BBEE grading but the contribution that we can make to the social and economic transformation of the communities in which we operate – a means to give back and address historical and social disparities.”

Delivering the best

“Of the projects completed in 2017, the design and supply of an in-plant conveyor system for the new milling/crushing facility at a gold mine in the Republic of Guinea is indicative of the growing demand for the company’s product offering from Central and West Africa,” says Späth.

The contract forms part of the expansion to the plant and comprised the supply of eight new in-plant conveyors and modifications to the existing conveyors.

Two semi-mobile Bradford Breakers were also delivered in 2017, within a year of TAKRAF Africa unveiling these innovative machines. The machines, supplied to two junior opencast coal miners operating in Mpumalanga, Overlooked Colliery and Black Wattle Colliery, offer the benefits of the traditional breaker in a more compact machine.

“Equipment offering low capital cost and ease of transport, installation and maintenance is crucial to the junior and small miners who are increasingly exploiting the small coal resources that remain,” adds Späth.

TAKRAF Africa’s solid/liquid separation specialist, Delkor Sub-Saharan Africa, delivered two Delkor high rate thickener drives and internals to site for a coal mine in Limpopo. The drives are part of an order that covers the supply of four thickeners in phases over a three-year period.

Following commissioning of the first phase of the Boiler Emissions Abatement (BEA) plant project at Impala Platinum Refineries in Springs, east of Johannesburg, TAKRAF Africa expects to complete the second phase of this innovative project in early 2018. The BEA plant project will ensure compliance with the new requirements of the National Environment Management Air Quality Act.

Two important new projects received from the power and mining sectors in 2017 were a fast-track contract for a tippler upgrade and conveyors for a power station and an order for a wagon tippler and dust extraction system for an iron ore port terminal.

“Both projects draw on the global expertise of the TAKRAF group, a world leader in the supply of wagon unloading systems, with the TAKRAF global group currently also involved in a major tippler project in the Republic of Guinea,” says Späth.

In other orders, TAKRAF Africa is designing an electrostatic precipitator (ESP) for a smelter in North West Province and is anticipating the project execution order early in 2018. “This is the first order for an ESP – a tried and tested workhorse in air pollution control – that we have received from this major client,” elaborates Späth.

The last two quarters of 2017 also saw good orders from the energy coal and iron ore sectors for Tenova Client Support Services, which provides comprehensive aftermarket support for products supplied by TAKRAF Africa as well as other OEMs. Among the contracts completed was the redesign and refurbishment of components of a bucket-wheel reclaimer for an iron ore mine which involved replacing the old bucket wheel and shaft with a new-design bucket wheel.

“The most unique feature of this design is that it consists of three bolted segments to give the maintenance crew the option to replace only the worn parts of the bucket wheel,” comments Späth.

Thinking big

“In the last quarter of 2017, we saw a marked upturn in bids, but we are very much aware at TAKRAF Africa that we need to convert these bids into orders for such an upturn to be in anyway meaningful. The smaller independent mine operator in Sub-Saharan Africa is a particularly buoyant growth market, while we are also working on exciting mining project prospects in the French-speaking African countries,” notes Späth.

Discussing new products, he says TAKRAF Africa believes the TAKRAF mineral sizer launched in Europe last year has potential for application in a copper project in the DRC. The unit offers a significantly smaller, less capital-intensive, alternative – with the same throughput – to the less effective and massive crushing technology which has historically been applied to the harder range of ores.

Further afield, TAKRAF is aiming to expand its suite of air environmental technologies as part of the TAKRAF global group offering, particularly into copper prospects in South America.

At the cutting edge

TAKRAF Africa’s in-house expertise, which covers the mining value chain, is supported by its commitment to ongoing innovation and technology acquisition.

“We have seen considerable success with our innovations in the past,” says Späth, “The semi-mobile Bradford Breaker is just one example, and in 2018 we intend to embark on a new technology acquisition drive, having allocated budget for R&D initiatives aimed at tailoring products for the African market. Such an approach enables us to offer the best of global technologies tailored to local conditions, based on our in-depth knowledge and experience of Africa’s mining industry.” 

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