ACTOM Mechanical Equipment, mining ventilation fans manufacturer and contractor, successfully performed a major mine ventilation fan retrofit project recently, replacing an existing fan assembly with an extended version within a three-day shutdown period at Assmang’s Black Rock underground manganese mine near Kathu in the Northern Cape.
Black Rock is operated by Assmang, which is jointly owned by Assore and African Rainbow Minerals (ARM).
As a result of expansion of its mining operations, Black Rock required an upgrade of its main ventilation fan system with the addition of a fourth 2.9 m diameter centrifugal fan to the existing three-fan installation, which ACTOM Mechanical Equipment designed, manufactured and supplied eight years ago.
“Traditionally we have always produced mine vent fans for new installations, either for a new shaft for an existing operating mine or for a new mine that is about to start up, so what was new for us in this project was that it involved a retrofit on an already operating shaft where we were allowed a very limited shutdown period in which to execute the changeover,” says William Nichol, ACTOM Mechanical Equipment’s project manager on the project.
“The shutdown period was exceptionally tight at only three days because the mine depends on this main ventilation system for all its ventilation and it therefore necessitated shutting down all mining operations while the changeover of the fan system was carried out.”
The changeover involved having to remove the existing shaft top, replace it with a new one and make the entire system ready to go back into service on the morning of the fourth day. “This required careful pre-planning that included coordinating the civils in preparation for the new installation and delivering the fan system comprising the replacement shaft top and quadfurcation to site to preassemble them on site ahead of the shutdown. We were also required to present method statements, safety procedures and an installation schedule to satisfy the mine’s engineering consultants overseeing the project as to the soundness of our installation procedures and to ensure that they met all the mine’s requirements,” Nichol explains.
The installation process, executed at the end of July 2014, went smoothly and was completed well within the shutdown period.
“Having proven through the success of the Black Rock project that we have the skills and project management expertise to carry out such projects efficiently we intend to go all out to obtain more work of this kind,” says Craig Johnston, ACTOM Mechanical Equipment’s general manager.
“We hope in this way to extend the scope of our ventilation fans business, especially in the high end of the industry where we already enjoy a longstanding good reputation as a supplier and contractor on new vent fan installations.”