While mining projects have played an integral role in the development of global infrastructure and construction programmes, beneficiation projects have also been regarded with the same importance, with many upstream and downstream supply chain benefits.
Leading compressor and generator hire company Rand-Air has contributed significantly to the maintenance of one of Namibia’s most important copper smelting plants - the Tsumeb smelter -which is owned by Dundee Precious Metals.
The project plays an important role in the economic development of Namibia, as it supplies copper to key global clients which are executing important infrastructure and construction projects.
A major demand by the project is a steady supply of oxygen, which is a vital component of the beneficiation process. Rand-Air Namibian Rental Manager Henry Fourie points out that the customer needed to build a new oxygen plant, part of which was the pressure testing of tanks and cleaning of the pipelines, during the construction of the plant. “Rand-Air supplied an oil-free compressor and drier to the customer in order to carry out this work,” says Henry.
Although the equipment was successfully supplied, Henry points out that there were some challenges which Rand-Air needed to overcome. “The customer required equipment which would operate at a pressure of 7 – 10 bar. However, all of these units were being used on another project at the time. We had to come up with an innovative solution whereby we could supply the customer with equipment which operated between 7 and 10 bar, and still manage to meet their requirements. We supplied a 24 bar unit and set the machine to work at the required pressure of 7- 10 bar,” explains Henry.
Another challenge that Rand-Air needed to overcome was the harsh desert conditions. Henry points out that the Tsumeb project is characterised by intense heat and very dry conditions. This means that the equipment needed to be robust, and able to operate in these extreme conditions.
However, this did not prove to be a problem for Rand-Air. “Before we sent the equipment to the customer, we ran a few tests to make sure that they would be able to cope with the conditions that the project presents. All of the equipment supplied to the Tsumeb project had built-in after-coolers; and furthermore did not produce any moisture. This was because certain processes in the maintenance process needed to be moisture-free,” says Henry.
After receiving exemplary customer feedback, Henry points out that the project was a success. “They were impressed with the speed at which we were able to supply the equipment. We had it readily available, and after a few adjustments to meet the customer’s specifications, we transported it as speedily as possible. The product knowledge and customer service which we offered the customer was also a vital part of this project being a success,” concludes Henry.