Platreef mine receives specialised lifting solutions

09 Feb 2024

By: Simone Liedtke

Creamer Media Social Media Editor & Senior Writer

Font size: - +

The application of precise, reliable and safe lifting machinery is imperative for various operational facets in mining, including maintenance and production processes, says lifting equipment manufacturer Condra Cranes.

The electric hoists and overhead cranes manufacturer recently supplied essential lifting equipment to the Platreef mine, near Mokopane, in Limpopo.

Owned by Canada-based platinum group metals (PGMs) miner Ivanhoe Mines’ South African subsidiary Ivanplats, the mine is a comprehensive PGMs project with two vertical production shafts, a ventilation shaft, a concentrator and supporting infrastructure.

Ivanhoe aims to develop Platreef, expected to start production this year, into a significant PGMs-producing mine on a global scale, projecting a yearly yield that will exceed one-million troy ounces of palladium, platinum, rhodium and gold.

Mine production will tap a 26-m-thick, flat orebody extending over several kilometres to deliver 12-million tonnes a year over a lifespan of three decades, making Platreef among the largest PGMs mines in the world.

The lifting equipment, comprising electric hoists, overhead cranes and chain blocks, is dedicated to machinery maintenance across the expansive mine site, says Condra Cranes MD Marc Kleiner.

“Condra's electric hoists and overhead cranes are distinguished by their robust design, featuring direct drives, automatic rope tensioning, electromagnetic disc brakes, solid bronze rope guides, totally enclosed splash-lubricated gearboxes and smooth travel.”

He adds that the company assessed specific areas of use within the mine, prioritising safe operation in the designs of its lifting equipment in addressing Platreef’s unique requirements.

This involved incorporating recommended safety features, including anti-derailment brackets and load-limiting devices, as well as long- and cross-travel limit switches, aligning with industry standards and customer specifications.

The equipment encompasses single- and double-girder overhead cranes, each meticulously designed for these specific areas within the mine, Kleiner says, highlighting that the single-girder crane, situated in the tailings filter area, has a lifting capacity of 5 t.

“This crane holds a dust- and ignition-proof rating to the ATEX Zone 21/22 standard, ensuring compliance with safety protocols in challenging operating conditions.”

While conventional products are unsuitable, owing to environmental conditions and the risk of spontaneous combustion in this section of the mine, Condra Cranes’ Platreef configuration improves safety and efficiency in the filter area.

As such, the company is providing specialised lifting machines, one of them an explosion-proof unit, equipped with special gland seals, as well as sealed covers and panels.

The double-girder crane, stationed at the plant workshop, has a lifting capacity of 10 t.

Both cranes feature handheld radio remote controls with a manual pendant backup control module.

Each crane is equipped with a hoist for specific maintenance purposes. The short-headroom hoist is designated for the tailings filter, while the K-Series hoist is employed for the mill feed conveyor.

Kleiner attributes the successful deployment of the equipment to “clear and consistent communication” between Condra Cranes and consulting engineers Dowding Reynard and Associates.

“By aligning closely with the project's specified requirements and collaborating seamlessly with the engineering team, Condra ensured the tailored design of lifting machinery to meet the unique needs of Platreef mine.”

This modular design approach allows for customised solutions, with over 200 modular parts produced to achieve competitive pricing and short lead times, as well as reduced lifetime costs.

A significant portion of Condra Cranes’ equipment comprises local content, which enables the company to deliver overhead cranes with the lowest possible lifetime cost, supported by a comprehensive backup service and rapid spare parts delivery, he adds.

Mining applications account for more than half of the company’s orders from customers across sub-Saharan Africa and the Americas.

All Condra products are manufactured to ISO 9001:2015, with the company’s full product range covering capacities from 250 kg to 500 t, while a fully automated option is available for all machines.

Edited by Donna Slater
Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer