Modern Mining: Featured News

With its Trio® brand of crushing equipment and the Enduron® range of screens, Weir Minerals Africa is continuing to build capability in the comminution space as a vital part of the total integrated solution it can offer to customers across Africa and the Middle East.


Trio inclined screen operating in a sand and aggregate plant.

According to Vernon Steenbok, General Manager Comminution at Weir Minerals Africa, the long term strategic cooperation agreement recently signed with international technology group Andritz – experts in tailings processing equipment – further consolidates Weir Mineral’s position as a leading force in mineral processing.

“Underlying our strategic acquisitions and cooperation journey is our focus on building world class process engineering expertise within the business,” says Steenbok. “We have long been known as a global leader in slurry pumping solutions through our 80 year strong Warman® pump brand, for instance, and have steadily grown our footprint and offerings to cover a wide range of comminution and process solutions.”

Weir Minerals’ offerings to mines now span all processes from the run-of-mine tip to the tailings dams, including equipment such as crushers, conveyors, screens, feeders, pumps, cyclones, linings, hoses and valves.

The Trio® range of crushers is now available across Africa to support local installations and is supported by fully fledged applications teams and sales teams. The machines are sourced from the Weir Group’s global manufacturing facilities, while Weir Minerals Africa develops the flowsheet and solution designs locally according to customer specifications. The Enduron® screens are manufactured at Weir Minerals Africa’s Alrode factory.

With mines under increased pressure to continue improving their management of mine tailings, the partnership with Andritz will allow Weir Minerals to offer a complete tailings solution, including specific offerings for tailings thickening. Under the brand name IsoDry™, Weir Minerals will now offer customers a range of mechanical separation technologies such as thickeners, filter presses, centrifuges and vacuum belt filters.

Steenbok highlights the company’s concerted efforts not only to place experienced process engineers at the centre of its relationship with customers, but to actively develop those skills in-country and nurture young engineers in the customer-focused ethic for which Weir Minerals Africa is known.

“At the top level, our team of process engineers brings years of experience from the mining sector, so they are familiar with customers’ operations and expectations,” he says. “This knowledge feeds into the way we evolve our service and product offering, as well as how we prepare the next generation of engineers for their role in supporting and building a sustainable mining sector.”

Weir Minerals’ talent pipeline is a testament to transformation and diversity, with 89 black learners – one third of them women – currently being prepared for their future roles in the company. The programme is set to grow further in 2018, with 115 learners targeted to participate. The learners represent a wide range of Weir Minerals’ developmental initiatives, from bursary students and graduates to internships and apprenticeships.

The result is an in-house process that Steenbok calls the ‘mill circuit university’ – ensuring that Weir Minerals Africa remains at the cutting edge of comminution technology and can offer solutions that reduce the total cost of equipment ownership for mines while contributing directly to the health of their bottom lines.

“As important as our expanding product range is to our ability to provide solutions, we also ensure that all applications, manufacturing and service must meet Weir Minerals’ global standards of performance,” he says. “This includes ongoing capacity building throughout our extensive network of branches that support our installed base across Africa.”

A strength of the business is its strong African footprint beyond South Africa, supporting the gold mines of West Africa from its base in Ghana, while also having a presence in Tanzania to service the gold mining regions of East Africa. Central Africa remains a key growth area for Weir Minerals, where it services a sizeable share of the copper mining sector in Zambia and elsewhere.

The aggregate business in the Middle East is also a strong market for Weir Minerals, driven by extensive infrastructure and building developments and the demand for Trio® crushers and Enduron® screens for these applications is encouraging.

Steenbok emphasises the long term view that Weir Minerals takes to its contribution to the mining industry, which is shown in the sizeable portion of research and development that is ploughed into product development.

“Our approach is to ensure responsive and open communication between the design and manufacturing arm, as well as the sales and after-market support function – at all times,” he says. “Critical information is fed from operations level to our engineering department so that improvements can constantly be made to existing and new product lines.”

He also notes the importance of the long-term commitment to customers, based on the organisation’s strong and established position. “We never walk away from a customer – they know that,” says Steenbok. “We are here for the long haul, and are committed to making customers’ businesses more efficient, more profitable and more sustainable.”

He concludes that Weir Minerals is directing ongoing attention towards ensuring ‘operational readiness’ in its projects, an approach that takes account of the multiple points of coordination and logistics when rolling out a solution for a customer. This attention to detail, he says, makes sure that all aspects of a job are implemented to the highest standards of quality, first time around.

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