Care, maintenance solutions customised for opencast

December 8, 2023 Tags

Reliable and adaptable services during care and maintenance phases in mining are crucial, says multi-disciplinary mining services and opencast mining contractor Zizwe Opencast Mining, emphasising that the success of this phase depends on a commitment to customising services to meet the specific needs of every mine.

These services include legal representation, maintenance activities, dewatering and security services, says Zizwe technical and commercial director Allan McCormack.

To understand the diverse needs of care and maintenance phases, he encourages mine owners and operators to submit the extent and scope of services the intended mining operation requires before it enters into a care-and-maintenance programme, following which Zizwe, specifically, will submit a mine-specific proposal that is aligned with the scope of work.

This personalised approach ensures that the services provided are precisely what the mine requires during its care and maintenance period, McCormack says.

Zizwe’s expertise was recently demonstrated in the successful completion of a care-and-maintenance project for a major opencast chrome mine, in Limpopo. The mine was placed on care and maintenance for about two years, owing to fluctuations in resource prices.

During this project, Zizwe efficiently managed the maintenance activities until the resource prices improved sufficiently to make the mine economically viable again, and mining operations resumed with few delays, he states.

However, owing to the fluctuations of resource prices, McCormack laments that opencast mines, in particular, are often placed on care-and-maintenance programmes, with hopes of resuming operations when it is suitable to do so.

Opencast mining operations present a set of unique challenges during care-and-maintenance phases, and that implementing effective solutions to address these issues are critical.

One significant challenge is the persistent threat of illegal mining activities prevailing in South Africa, which can severely impact on the safety of the mine, its structural integrity and access to the orebody, he adds.

To counteract the threat posed by illegal mineworkers – commonly known locally as Zama Zamas – the company follows multi-faceted approach, combining dependable security services with technology, such as closed-circuit television and drones, especially in areas where additional surveillance is necessary.

“The implementation of advanced fencing solutions, including clear-view fencing, also plays a pivotal role in fortifying mining areas against unauthorised access,” McCormack says.

The protection of critical infrastructure, including electrical power installations, is also a priority, with regular inspections and prompt repairs of fencing and barricading to ward off unauthorised access and safeguard essential services.