Modern Mining: Featured News

Redpath Mining Africa has launched several initiatives designed to grow its already healthy business in Africa, including a joint venture partnership with Redpath Mining Australia, which will develop the considerable synergies between the two companies. Modern Mining recently spoke to Redpath Mining Africa’s MD, Lawrence Schultz, about the company’s achievements, its service offering and its plans to grow its share of the fiercely competitive mining contracting market in Africa.

The first point that Schultz makes is that Redpath Mining Africa is part of a global mining contracting and engineering group that has built up a formidable track record across  every continent. “Redpath’s headquarters are in North Bay, Ontario in Canada, but there are regional offices in Canada, the USA, Chile, South Africa, Germany and Australia,” he says. “At last count, the group had 107 projects spread over 69 sites in 13 different countries. This collective expertise is available to Redpath Mining Africa which in turn contributes its skills to overseas projects when required.”

Redpath positions itself for African growth

Redpath's Raise mining service has the ability to meet the demand for ventilation raises, production slot raises, shaft piloting, manways/escapeways, ore and waste passes, narrow vein mining and raise widening.

Elaborating on the partnership with Redpath Mining Australia, Schultz notes that the Australian company is noted for its capacity to undertake mechanised high-speed development – particularly of declines – with its skills being on display in a number of recent projects, including the Olympic Dam Mine Expansion Project in South Australia. On this project, the company achieved above industry norm drilling advancements per month and machine availability in the 90th percentile range.

Schultz adds that Redpath Mining Australia will not only contribute its development skills to the partnership but also its engineering and technical expertise through the delivery of ring and blast designs, drilling and charging designs, as well as ventilation design.

“We believe the combined offering of the African and Australian companies will allow us to gain significant traction in the African market, particularly in West Africa where South African mining contracting companies have made only limited headway against their mainly Australian rivals,” he says. “Redpath Mining Africa will, of course, be a very active partner in the alliance. We have specialised skills – in vertical shaft-sinking, for example – that are world-class and which will be part of the offering. In addition, we have a deep knowledge of the African mining environment, particularly the regulatory requirements and the logistical challenges, which has been acquired through many years of working on the continent.”

According to Schultz, the partnership with Redpath Mining Australia will see specific skills being transferred to the African arm of Redpath. “We see the skills transfer process as roughly a three to five-year programme, at the end of which we will have a workforce in Africa that has adopted the Australian high-speed methodology, while at the same time matching their impressive advance rates.”

Another new offering by Redpath Mining Africa is Mechanised Raise Mining services, which it announced at this year’s Mining Indaba in Cape Town. Offering flexibility, faster excavation speeds and depths in excess of 200 m, the Raise Mining service – which will employ Alimak-style technology – has the ability to meet the demand for ventilation raises, production slot raises, shaft piloting, manways/escapeways, ore and waste passes, narrow vein mining and raise widening.

Says Schultz: “We’re seeing an increasing number of enquiries for mechanised raise mining from mines both in South Africa and the rest of Africa, and indeed we already have one contract starting at Harmony’s Phakisa gold mine. Mechanised raise mining has particular applicability to the mining of narrower, steeper orebodies, which are increasingly being encountered in African mining.”

The company’s Raiseboring division, which was launched in the African region several years ago, proved to be a highly successful move, which has seen Redbore raise drills deployed on major contracts both in South Africa and the Zambian Copperbelt.

The Redbore raise drill machines are manufactured by Redpath in North Bay, Canada (the first unit was designed and built in 1987) and range from the Redbore 30 (a blind borer), which can drill raises up to 1 m diameter to a length of around 50 m, to the giant Redbore 100, which can handle diameters of up to 8 m to a depth of more than 1 000 m. The current fleet comprises a mixture of electrically driven variable speed and hydraulic drives. More than 70 Redbore machines have been built to date and have collectively reamed raises totalling approximately 318 km.

A machine which will become a key part of Redpath Mining Africa’s raiseboring offering is the new Redbore 65, which is capable of drilling up to 3,5 m diameter over a raise length of 300 m. The machine – now at an advanced prototype stage – will be able to fit into a 4,5-m high excavation and will be compatible with the Redtrax raise drill transporter, a purpose-built, low profile unit designed specifically for the independent and swift underground transport of Redbore raise drills between sites, which eliminates dependence on client resources such as telehandlers, forklifts and LHDs.

The Redbore raise drill machines have distinguished themselves on Redpath’s Zambian Copperbelt contracts, all for Mopani Copper Mines (MCM). A Redbore 100 has been deployed on the 6,1-m diameter Synclinorium vent shaft while a Redbore 90EX has been used to raise drill a nearly 2 000-m deep, 6,1-m dia­meter vertical shaft in four approximately 500-m lifts for the Mindola Deeps Expansion Project. “To the best of our knowledge, this latter project represents a world record – in terms of depth – for a raise-bored shaft,” states Schultz.

Like all of its peers, Redpath places a huge emphasis on safety and recently recorded four years of LTI-free operation on the Synclinorium project (from start to project completion).

In South Africa, Redpath recently completed a raiseboring project at Sasol’s Impumelelo coal mine. The scope of the work entailed the piloting and reaming of two 186-m deep, 7,3-m diameter ventilation shafts, including the lining of both shafts by means of a Remote Shaft Liner. The machine used was the Redbore 90EX. The 7,3-m diameter holes set the African record for the largest diameter raisebore holes reamed to date.

While Redpath Mining Inc has completed many vertical shafts around the globe, Redpath Mining Africa has had limited opportunities to complete a deep-level shaft in the Africa region using conventional shaft-sinking methods. Schultz says that this in part reflects the fact that shafts of this type are few and far between. “We do, however, have a full deep-level shaft capability,” he states. “In South Africa we’ve sunk sections of vertical shafts – part of Impala’s 17 Shaft, for example – and successfully completed a major shaft rehabilitation contract at South Deep. Globally, Redpath has completed many shafts using conventional methods,  with one of the latest being the 10-m diameter, 1 284-m deep No 2 shaft at the Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia, where the sinking phase was completed earlier this year.”

The competency of Redpath Mining Africa extends across the entire spectrum of mining contracting and includes not only shaft sinking and raiseboring but also mine development (using both conventional and trackless methods), underground construction and engineering, contract mining and technical services. Its success has been such that it now ranks as one of the ‘Big Three’ mining contracting groups operating out of South Africa.

Turning to the qualities that differentiate Redpath in the market, Schultz says that innovation and pushing the boundaries are in the group’s DNA. “Here in Africa we’ve tackled some highly unusual projects,” he says. “In Botswana we completed the 473-m long, 6,1-m diameter decline ‘Sand Tunnel’ for Gem Diamonds’ Ghaghoo diamond project in the Central Kalahari, which was a world first. At Maseve we demonstrated that we could successfully deploy the longhole stoping method in a very narrow orebody, which everyone said was impossible; while at Gold Fields’ South Deep mine we were responsible for the world’s tallest brattice wall.”

Finally, and looking at prospects for Redpath Mining Africa, Schultz says that the company is currently tendering on a number of significant contracts. “There is no denying, however, that the market is still restrained so we’re not expecting 2018 to be an exceptional year. We believe that 2019 will be much better and that we could achieve substantial growth given the number of projects around Africa that are at a very advanced stage. We’re very well placed to take advantage of any upturn. We have the resources in place to tackle projects – big or small – right across the continent and the full backing of our parent company, which has identified Africa as a major growth region for the group.”

Photos courtesy of Redpath Mining

Contact Modern Mining

Title: Editor
Name: Arthur Tassell
Email: mining@crown.co.za
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

Title: Advertising Manager
Name: Bennie Venter
Email: benniev@crown.co.za
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

BANNER 9

 
Full Name*
Invalid Input

Company Name*
Invalid Input

Your Email*
Invalid Input

Phone*
Invalid Input

Postal Address 1*
Invalid Input

Postal Address 2*
Invalid Input

Postal Code*
Invalid Input

Street Address 1
Invalid Input

Street Address 2
Invalid Input

Postal Code
Invalid Input

Town / City*
Invalid Input

Country*
Invalid Input

Magazine

Invalid Input

Invalid Input