Transvaal Rubber Company (Truco) has supplied its range of rubber hosing products to a number of mining projects in Africa, both underway and recently completed. 

The company supplies rubber pulp and slurry hoses to major mining projects across Africa through turnkey contracts that typically range in value between R2 million and R8 million. It also supplies conveyor belting and five different types of rubber wear liners that can be matched to specific gravity, velocity and particle size and different processing stages.

Just a few of the projects Truco has done work for are: Frontier, Kansanshi and Lumwana in Zambia; Komoto and Kinserve in the DRC; Taparko in Burkina Faso; Mauritania Coppper; Moma in Mozambique; Letseng in Lesotho; QMM’s Mandina project in Madagascar; the Tati Nickel project in Botswana; and Finsch diamond mine in South Africa. It has also supplied marine dredging hoses and hoses to Namdeb’s Beach Walker jet rig as well as the Langer Heinrich Uranium mine in Namibia.

Truco, whose history dates back to 1892, started from an original base in mining air and water hose and sporting goods. Today the homework it does to identify mining-related projects in Africa, together with its capabilities in this field, has seen it capture the major portion of this market.

“One of the reasons for our success is that we are not content to just supply a product, but visit the project sites to assess what technical challenges we can solve,” Truco manager of the large bore hose division Mike Stuart says. Currently about 70% of the company’s activities come from project work with the remainder coming from general orders. About 50% of the company’s business is in Africa outside South Africa, this compared with four to five years ago when that percentage was about 10% to 15%.

LETSENG

Letseng when it was under
construction, one of the
many mining projects
Truco has supplied.

“We start to get involved when the project makes the shift from
feasibility stage to bankability – that is when we sit down with the draftsmen, the engineers who do the piping, and construction people,” Stuart says. “Gone are the days where Truco relied on waiting for an order to come in. We get out there, proactively get involved and find out who is doing what and where.”

Stuart says the company is tracking some 550 projects in Africa, ranging from start of pre-feasibility to activity on site and these are all genuine non-speculative projects with an 18 month implementation horizon. “Some four to five years ago there were only about six or seven projects at similar levels.

“We look to provide the right product for the application,” he says. “Price is a factor and companies tend to go for the cheapest pulp and slurry hose, but for the large projects where one hose failure can stop a plant with very expensive consequences, we stake our reputation on what goes into the plant. Project houses that have had their fingers burnt by putting in the incorrect hoses have one less thing to worry about when they deal with us.”

Truco does business across the world and that sees it deal with various conditions. It has supplied hosing to projects in Russia and Canada where the installation has to be designed to meet the temperature requirements. “You have to take into account that no matter what rubber compound you use, rubber becomes brittle at below -45OC and starts to break up,” Truco Projects division director Herbie Crooks says.

Truco, which can manufacture pulp and slurry hose up to one metre diameter, usually does a package for the project when it is constructed and takes this up until handover to the end-user and beyond, where it follows up during the actual operation. “The project houses set the timeframe and we work according to their production schedules,” Crooks says. “Usually we meet with the project team during the implementation phases on a weekly or biweekly basis.” Truco works with all the major mining sector project companies, including Bateman, DRA, SRK, Murray & Roberts, TWP, GRD Minproc, Lycopodeum, Senet, Ausenco, Hatch and others.

Thanks to the increase in demand, including in South Africa, Truco has more than doubled its annual production compared with half a decade ago. It has responded to the mining boom across the continent and planned to increase the size of its manufacturing facility in Chamdor, Gauteng, by a further 1,200 m2. This will bring the lead time to delivery down.

The company is ISO 9001 2000 accredited and sources its materials from a few different reliable local suppliers. It uses a local labour pool and as the manufacture of rubber hose is a specialised field, most of Truco’s people are long term employees with the company. The company does a lot of training in-house and promotes internally, with about a dozen people having progressed their careers via this route. Truco’s order book is usually filled some three to four months in advance, but as it tracks projects the window in advance of the implementation can be as much as four to nine months.