construction Economy FDI Infrastructure Mining Mozambique Natural Resources

SA company awarded maintenance contracts on back of Moz coal projects

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Johannesburg-based conveyor maintenance company and supplier African Trading Group has completed the multimillion-rand installation of a conveyor belting system at Brazilian mining major Vale’s Moatize II expansion project, in Tete province, Mozambique.

African Trading Group director LeeAnn Strydom tells Mining Weekly that the project, which started in June, entailed the construction and installation of about 30 km of conveyor systems.

“It also required hot vulcanising (treating rubber with sulphur or sulphur compounds under heat and pressure to improve elasticity and strength) of more than 100 hot vulcanised splices on both steel cord and ply belt conveyor belts, which was completed by three teams working independently of each other,” she adds.

African Trading Group completed the project, which forms part of the Moatize II expansion project, at the end of last month.

The Moatize II project, valued at about $3.2-billion, will increase the coal production capacity of the mine, which began to operate in 2011, to 22-million metric tons a year, according to Vale. The plan also involves the installation of a new mine and the expansion of the coal handling and preparation plant.

Strydom highlights that the Moatize II contract follows the successful completion of a conveyor belting system installation at the Port of Nacala, in northern Mozambique, for which African Trading Group has, subsequently, secured the service and maintenance contract.

The new contract is valid until 2019 and will be managed by the company’s Mozambican arm Leebert Mocambique. Besides the maintenance of the conveyor belts, the conveyor system must also be monitored and serviced to ensure that it remains up to standard and that risks of downtime and unscheduled stoppages are eliminated, African Trading Group director Robert Plaska notes.

Nacala Contract
For the initial Nacala installation and vulcanising contract, the company collaborated with engineering and construction company Kentz Engineers & Constructors. The Nacala port project started in July 2014 and was completed in March.

Plaska highlights that planning for the global logistics operation with regard to the remote location and local rainy season was “difficult”, with the company having to plan and execute precisely to ensure that the stringent deadlines were met.

“Nonetheless, the contract was delivered, completed and commissioned on time,” Strydom points out, explaining that African Trading Group was responsible for supplying the material, labour and equipment, as well as managing the installation of more than 25 km of steel cord conveyor belt, comprising more than 110 vulcanised splices.

She stresses that being awarded the original Nacala port contract validated “the hard work put into building the company in the past few years”.

Plaska agrees, highlighting that there were no failures, injuries or incidents during the completion of the project. “In conjunction with Kentz, there were more than three-million hours lost-time-injury free.”

To meet the needs for the Nacala contract, African Trading Group invested millions of rands in buying three vulcanising presses, including two 2100 presses and one 1500 press.

“Investments also included training a local workforce of 30 employees, learning the language, investing in and mastering the required local logistics processes, the setting up of an office and a small warehouse, as well as mitigating any health and safety risks,” Strydom explains.

MATCHING THE REQUIREMENT African Trading Group installed more than 25 km of steel cord conveyor belt, comprising more than 110 vulcanised splices for the Nacala port project
MATCHING THE REQUIREMENT African Trading Group installed more than 25 km of steel cord conveyor belt, comprising more than 110 vulcanised splices for the Nacala port project

Nacala Expansions
The Nacala developments include the addition of a new 912-km-long railway line, which will link one of Africa’s richest coal regions, in Tete, and the Port of Nacala, Mozambique’s most northerly port, and the deepest natural bay on the east coast of Africa.

The harbour serves the Tete coal region, as well as Malawi, and forms part of Vale’s investment in logistics infrastructure through the Nacala Logistics Corridor, also called the CLN – Corredor Logistico de Nacala project.

The project involves the restoration of 682 km of existing railway track between Malawi and Mozambique, building a maritime terminal and laying 230 km of new railway – 201 km to connect Moatize to Nkaya Junction, in Malawi, and 29.3 km to connect Namarral to Nacala-à-Velha. The total length of railway line will be 912 km, with the restored stretches increasing the capacity of the railway to 18-million metric tons of coal a year.

The CLN, the railway and port infrastructure that connects the Moatize mine to the Nacala-à-Velha maritime terminal at the Port of Nacala already transports 2 760 wagons and discharges 150 000 t of coal at the port.

Strydom and Plaska further believe it is “imperative” that smaller companies, such as African Trading Group, be given the opportunity to work on significant contracts, such as Nacala and Moatize, as “this is one of the major factors of job creation and growth in Africa”.

Source: Mining Weekly

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