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Sandvik machines form the backbone of mining expansion project

Johan Heunis, Mine Overseer; Duitser Keyser, Safety Officer; Andre de Lange, General Engineering Superintendent; and Hermie Keyser, Contracts Manager, all of Murray and Roberts Cementation, with Peet Schoeman, Account Manager, of Sandvik.
A Murray and Roberts Cementation (M&R) mining team working on a manganese mine expansion project at Hotazel in the Northern Cape has silenced skeptics who pronounced that the rock reinforcement drill rig selected to insert roof bolts to stabilize the hanging walls would not be up to the job.

Eight months later, the skeptics are eating their words, with the M&R project forging ahead of schedule.

The M&R contract is part of Samancor’s USD 56 M (ZAR 750 M) expansion project at its Wessels and Mamatwan manganese mines. The result will be an additional one million tons per year of manganese from the Mamatwan open pit by 2010 and 700,000 tons per year from the Wessels underground mine by 2012.
The two mines fall under Hotazel Manganese Mines, in which Samancor Manganese has a 91% shareholding, with Ntsimbintle Mining owning the remaining 9%. The mines are located in the Kalahari Basin and are among the largest producers of manganese ore in the world.

At Wessels Mine, M&R was contracted to open up further ore reserves by breaking through a dyke and establishing a new mining area in the central block, which equates to approximately three kilometers of development work.
A Sandvik LH514 moves through an access tunnel to load waste. Working in conjunction with another Sandvik machine – an EJC533 dump truck – more than 54,000 tons of waste were removed to create three new access tunnels, which will eventually provide access to a new manganese resource in the mine.

To reach this new ore body, three access tunnels are being created through a worked-out section of the mine. Each tunnel is designated for a particular use – human access and services (compressed air, drilling water, wastewater and electrical cables) for the first, vehicle access for the second, and a materials conveyor linking the room-and-pillar stopes to an underground crusher for the third.

According to Hermie Keyser, M&R Cementation contracts manager for the Wessels Mine project, the Sandvik roof bolter (a fully mechanized DS310) has a consistent 95% availability and 81% utilization, to insert more than 60 bolts a day in the toughest rock conditions.

Keyser says that the machine would probably average about 150 bolts a day under better rock conditions, but the banded iron-stone in the hanging wall into which the roof bolts are inserted virtually eats up drill bits.

“In these conditions, the rock has a voracious appetite for drill bits. Two bits are used to drill a five-meter hole with a diameter of 32 millimeters. More than 5,570 bolts were inserted during the first four months of the project, which means that it has been a costly operation in terms of consumables.

“But the machine has performed exceptionally well in these punishing conditions. The skeptics surfaced soon after we took delivery of the Sandvik roof bolter, saying that we would be lucky to achieve a rate of 14 bolts a day. We have averaged 60 bolts a day, sometimes exceeding 70,” Keyser says.

All of this, he says, reflects on the reliability of the Sandvik roof bolter and the M&R approach in preparing a machine and support team for the big project. In the end, the Sandvik DS310 machine easily met his criteria for safety, bolting quality and performance, he said.

The roof bolter was sourced from another M&R operation in the Rustenburg area where platinum is mined. It was immediately dispatched to Sandvik’s Jet Park workshops in Johannesburg for electrical modifications. The next step was to put the operators through a comprehensive Sandvik training program, and only then was the machine put into service. Keyser is fastidious about the men and machines used on his contracts. Personnel have to receive proper training, and the machines must be kept in almost as-new condition by maintenance crews working in M&R’s own underground workshop – the Hermie Keyser doctrine for running a successful contract, one might say.

However, the overriding theme is safety, because Keyser believes that people who are properly trained in how and where to work, with machines that are properly maintained, will have fewer accidents. There is no room for sloppiness. His operators are also multi-skilled to enable them to work either the roof bolter or twin-boom development rig – depending on the need.

It is not only the DS310 that has won Keyser’s admiration and praise. He says that the rest of the Sandvik fleet used on the contract has performed “exceptionally well” and has become the backbone of the operation. The other machines are a twin-boom development rig (DD420), a Toro 1400 LHD (14-ton loader) and a 30-ton EJC533 dump truck.

“The Toro 1400 was a rebuild from the Jet Park workshop, and we are truly amazed at the way it has been performing. The contract called for 12,000 tons of waste to be relocated to another worked-out area, but in the end, 54,000 tons had to be moved. Using the Toro 1400 and the 30-ton dump truck, we completed the job in three months.

“Among us, the 1400 has earned the nickname 'el toro' – the bull – for its strength and aggression in tackling the muck pile. We could not have made a better choice,” Keyser says.
For further information, please contact:
Tiina Heiniö
Sandvik Mining and Construction
Phone: +1 905 333 2345
E-mail: tiina.heiniö

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