ELB Engineering Services, which is focused on the supply of engineered materials handling solutions to the natural resources, power and ports industries, has successfully undertaken projects over the past year to bolster its reputation in this field.
ELB CEO Stephen Meijers says that the past year has been one of different challenges compared with those seen in the past decade. “From struggling to boost our expertise base due to the global boom, the challenge became one of being fit for the global economic crisis.”
The company has positioned itself well, and its order book remains robust. While the global recession has impacted the commodities sector in general, the areas where ELB is active have remained vibrant. Attention is starting to be paid to Africa’s infrastructural needs, with a number of ports and other facilities being developed and upgraded. These are focus areas that include bulk materials handling, pneumatic conveying systems, and life extension services incorporating after sales service – ELB’s focal points.
ELB Engineering Services has undertaken refurbishment of ship-loaders, stackers and reclaimers to prove its engineering capabilities at great benefit to its clients. ELB has been involved in the upgrade of such equipment at the Transnet Port Elizabeth manganese terminal, included the upgrade of two ship loaders, three stackers, two bucket wheel reclaimers and the provision of a new bucket wheel reclaimer. An example is a bucket wheel reclaimer that dates back to 1964, and is now operating as new with a 67% higher capacity and modern electronic control systems. The Port Elizabeth manganese terminal is one of three major refurbishment projects ELB has undertaken over the past 18 months.
Another is Grindrod’s Matola upgrade project in Mozambique, which involves upgrading the terminal facilities to a capacity of six million tonnes a year. The project entails a combination of retrofitting existing conveyors, a new bucket wheel stacker reclaimer and a new ship loader. The plant infrastructure, security systems and electrical control systems will also be upgraded. The project is expected to be completed by the end of August 2010.
It follows upon the recently completed Phase 2 project at the terminal, which encompassed the refurbishment of two tipplers, replacement of one indexer and the rebuild of a bucket wheel stacker reclaimer. It is notable that the condition of the stacker reclaimer prior to refurbishment was such that some engineers thought that refurbishment was impossible and assumed that a full replacement was necessary. This was further complicated by the presence of minimal drawings for the machine. ELB used laser scanning technology to generate drawings, dismantled the whole machine, undertook Finite Element Analysis and rebuilt the machine, replacing some 50% of the steel. The result was a stacker reclaimer commissioned in two thirds of the time that a new machine could have been procured in, even taking into account the lack of drawings. More importantly, the machine was refurbished at about 50% of the price of a new one, and it demonstrates that ELB is at the technological edge when it comes to such projects.
Supported by FAM and Thor technologies, ELB has the capability to design and supply any materials handling system from run-of-mine to ship loading. Since introducing the FAM range of technologies to Southern Africa a year ago, ELB has received new orders for a manganese bucket wheel reclaimer, coal and magnetite bucket wheel stacker reclaimers and ship loaders.
With the increase of smaller and more flexible mining operations, ELB has also been successful in introducing three Thor telescopic radial luffing stackers with full transportability. It is the first such line in South Africa and one of these mobile stackers is being used as a ship loader, enabling a large reduction of loading time. Such a unit was provided in four months and its capital cost is lower by a factor of 10.
To add to ELB’s offerings it has a strategic partnership with Specialised Handling and Engineering (SHE), and is installing a train tippler and indexer at the Lafarge Lichtenburg cement plant. Over the years SHE has modified and upgraded its tippler design, making it a world leading provider of tipplers.
Among the projects ELB has undertaken recently was the design and supply of the materials handling from run-ofmine tip up to waste dump stacking at Voorspoed, the newest DeBeers mine. This project consisted of a number of innovations allowing for a cost effective layout and minimised the number of conveyors.
The ferrochrome industry has been a focus for ELB over many years, and over the past year the company was involved in three such projects. These are the raw material feed conveyors for Tata ferrochrome, the frontend feed for the ASA Metals expansion projects, and final product crushing and screening for ASA Metals.
ELB is one of the region’s leading pneumatic conveying companies, and it has the engineering depth provided by a number of individuals whose experience stretches back 20 years. This experience, supported by the company’s pneumatic technology partners. Claudius Peters and Cyclonaire, enable ELB to undertake almost any type or complexity of conveying and fine particle handling project.
ELB has provided systems handling magnesium oxide, fly ash, cement, diamonds, diamond ore, soap powder, and soda ash. The largest system being installed at present is a 200 tonne an hour cement handling plant using the patented Fluidcon system from Claudius Peters. This new technique of conveying reduces power by up to 30% and hence dramatically reduces wear of components. ELB is currently installing four such systems for PPC.
In addition, ELB’s revolutionary Drycon system was installed on a diamond recovery vessel in October last year. This system has the ability to simultaneously convey and dry granular material. The introduction of the FB2 product separation device allowed for the system to be installed in a much smaller area compared with traditional knock out bins.
Taking its evolution further, ELB has established two new partnerships, one of which enables it to provide a total mine-to-ship logistics management as well as a technical solution. This partnership, Ports of Africa (POA), is a joint venture between ELB and A Cubed of Durban. The latter is a world leader in providing logistical solutions from the mine to the final user. The formation of Ports of Africa combines this with ELB’s engineering skills to offer a total solution ranging from consulting to turnkey projects regarding the logistics of bulk materials exiting a port.
The other joint venture, between ELB and PBA called EPE, ensures the ability to deliver modular plants requiring world leading capabilities in Dense Media Separation (DMS), flotation, comminution and solids – liquid separation. For many years, PBA has been the leading supplier to DeBeers Marine for its ship based plants. This has required a very high level of modular plant design and ELB and PBA are supplying Coal of Africa with modular coal handling and washing plant for that company’s Vele project. ELB recently completed the coal handling plant for Coal of Africa’s Mooiplaats project.
ELB Engineering Services, together with its partners, continues to build a good track record, in the fields of bulk materials handling. Meijers says the company will continue to serve the South African and African market by providing innovative solutions based on world class technologies. “In a time when the world is in turmoil we believe there remains excitement and challenge in the materials handling environment and we are proud to be part of that space.”