Zimplats expansion forges ahead

HARARE - Zimbabwe Platinum Mines (Zimplats) is forging ahead with its multi-million dollar Ngezi Phase II expansion project after engaging South Africa-based Robor Pipe Systems (Robor) to supply steel pipelines.

This comes as the platinum group metals producer (PGM) — 87 percent owned by Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed Impala platinum Holdings — had last year indicated that it would miss its project deadlines due to funding constraints.

“The company has stated publicly that its Phase II project will be delayed due to cash flow constraints triggered by the fall in metal prices and difficult borrowing conditions.

This has necessitated a revision in the scheduled delivery of houses that fall under this expansion project,” Busi Chindove, Zimplats corporate affairs head said then.

The $460 million expansion project, initiated in 2010, entails the development of a new two-million-tonne-a-year underground mine, an additionally-sized concentrator and associated module, as well as other infrastructure.

This will not only add an additional 90 000 ounces per year of platinum to the group’s yield, but will also take production at Zimplats to 270 000 ounces per year of platinum when it reaches nameplate capacity, expected in the 2015 financial year. Robor was contracted by project management company DRA Mineral Projects South Africa to supply the Steel Polypipe, which Zimplats will use to convey mine slurry.

Deon Kruger, the Robor sales director, said his company was supplying Zimplats with Steel Polypipe in standard and custom lengths, during February and March this year.

“The jointing method employed in the Robor Steel Polypipe system enables the flanges to be locked together, sandwiching the blow rings and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) stubs to create a solid joint equivalent to the pipe strength, he said.

As a result of the jointing method, the bolts are torqued to the setting applicable to steel. This eliminates ‘sponginess’ and the risk of leaks, owing to pipeline movement or the loosening of bolts.

Kruger says the HDPE-lined Steel Polypipe is suited to convey slurry in tailings lines at mine sites, owing to its high corrosion resistance.

HDPE-lined Steel Polypipes are environment friendly, as the HDPE liners are easily decontaminated and fully recyclable.

Further, the reclaimable steel pipe lends itself to being factory relined, as worn linings are easily removed and disposed of for recycling.

“The advantage of HDPE liners is that they do not depend on adhesion to steel and possible disbonding after wear, which may cause system blockages during disbonding,” said Kruger.

Besides supplying the steel piping product, Robor will provide on-site assistance at Ngezi should maintenance pipe replacements need to be undertaken.

“Robor manufacture, import and supply conveyance pipe solutions with flange, ring or groove ends, for either water, steam, slurry or acids, and also offer fittings, linings and coatings for corrosion protection,” he said.

The Ngezi mine operation is situated on the Hartley Geological Complex in the Zimbabwean Great Dyke, 150 km south-west of Harare.

This is estimated to be the largest PGM bearing complexes in Zimbabwe, containing 80 percent of the known PGM resources in the country, two thirds of which is held by Zimplats. — With Miningweekly

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