At the start of 2018, assembly started for the first of the two RopeCon installations for the transport of platinum ore at the Booysendal concession.
To transport the mined ore to an existing processing plant, Doppelmayr Transport Technology GmbH, headquartered in Austria and a subsidiary of the Doppelmayr Group, the world's leading manufacturer of ropeways, has built a RopeCon which is due to start operating at the beginning of 2019.
This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 1, 2019
Doppelmayr developed the RopeCon as an efficient solution to transport material in challenging terrains.
This bulk material and unit load handling conveyor combines the benefits of well proven ropeway technology with those of a conventional conveyor belt.
RopeCon is a continuous conveying transport system, consisting basically of a belt with corrugated side walls and integrated wheel sets which run on fixedly anchored track ropes guided over tower structures. The belt performs the hauling function.
The system operates off the ground, thus minimising space requirements and easily crossing buildings, roads, rivers, valleys or other obstacles.
The perfect adaptation of the conveyor to the natural terrain allows for a straight conveying line with only a minimum of line structures and tower distances of up to 1 500 m.
The implementation of the system requires only a very narrow line corridor, even when installed in difficult terrain or in an area with existing infrastructure.
It can cross roads or buildings and does not interfere with truck traffic.
Furthermore, used as an alternative to trucks, it can improve safety, especially where roads are narrow, winding or slippery.
When applied as an alternative to truck transportation, the use of this conveyor also allows for the reduction of CO2 and fine dust emissions to a minimum.
A very low noise emission further benefits the health of people living close to the conveying route.
The controls of the RopeCon system can be integrated in the main controls of a logistics chain and the system works fully automatically.
Furthermore, as the wheel sets are bolted to the belt, almost all moving items constantly return through the stations and can be easily maintained, thus, there is no need to go out into windy, cold or rainy weather to perform maintenance tasks.
Work can be carried out in a safe work shop environment. In case the line has to be inspected, the system offers an inspection trolley, which travels along the top strand of track ropes. This system can be used to reach every point of the line easily and safely.
As part of an additional expansion programme, Booysendal further contracted Doppelmayr to design and construct a second RopeCon in October 2017 which will tie in with the first system, allowing transport of ore from mining modules in the north of the concession.
This RopeCon system will convey 400 tph, over 2.8 km and with a vertical drop of 160 m.