R1 billion investment at Kumba Iron Ore for heavy mining equipment facilities

Kumba Iron Ore, a business unit of Anglo American, has spent just over R1 billion to develop and expand its heavy mining equipment facilities at its Sishen operation in the Northern Cape. This came after a review conducted in 2010 revealed that the maintenance facilities and outside storage capacity was insufficient for current equipment needs.

The first new ultra-class Komatsu 960E trucks, which are now being used at the operation, needed much larger facilities in order to be correctly and safely maintained at the mine. This meant that these trucks needed to be serviced outside the workshop with mobile cranes until the new facilities were completed.

In an effort to mitigate the situation, Kumba Iron Ore’s supply chain appointed TWP and Bvi as the engineering consultants for the pre-feasibility and feasibility reports to investigate methods to fast-track the design, procurement and implementation of this project in October 2010. 

Hamish Riddet, project manager of TWP, explains that the implementation phase was so urgent that it had to be fast-tracked.  

“The project aim was to find an optimised solution to cater for the additional service demands. We also needed to ensure the sustainability and improvement of safety and operational standards. To achieve this, we investigated the bulk infrastructure for the new tyre workshop and associated services because the development of new infrastructure is an essential part of future expansion,” he says.

The workshop is now big enough and has adequate crane capacity to accommodate the new 960E mega trucks. Thanks to the workshop, the haul truck fleet can be increased from a total 75 to 156 as well as the size and load carrying capacity of haul trucks. 

The previous tyre fitting workshop had no floor and roof and was too small for haul trucks. The new tyre workshop with tyre removal bays, storage areas and other bulk facilities are essential for future and secondary fleet expansion.

Traffic congestion in and around the existing diesel workshop which was a major safety risk has now been reduced thanks to the design of the facility. Travelling time to maintenance facilities has also been reduced to add another cost and safety benefit, while also providing safe access from mining operations for equipment.

Although a few days were lost due to strong winds during July, the project was a success and was completed ahead of schedule and under budget. A major milestone was the 1 million lost time injury (LTI) free hours and 500 LTI free days achieved by the team during the construction of the workshop. 

Andrew Loots, head of the steering committee and former general manager at Sishen mine, concludes that the new facilities are aligned with the Life of Mine plan for the operation. The Life of Mine is the expected number of years that an operation has to mine which extends until such time that the final block of ore is extracted.

“The new contractor-built and maintained facilities will drive efficiencies at the operation as it provides additional maintenance capacity to the existing haul-truck and tyre handling workshops. This project has also helped to create several new jobs.


“We are confident that these new facilities will cater for the additional service demands, which will add to the mine’s sustainability and productivity.”

Author: PR Officer

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