Leon Uys

Leon Uys, managing
director-designate of DRA

“Our notional turnover (the amount of money we manage on behalf of our clients on projects) for the 2006 financial year to February 2007 was R5.5 billion – an increase of more than 60% over the R3.5 billion achieved in the 2005 financial year,” he reveals. “Our current confirmed work-load will see us achieve our objectives for the next two years,” he adds, “and the secured workload for 2007 and 2008 should show a further significant increase each year over the R5.5 billion for 2006. And there is of course the upside potential of further opportunities we expect as we go along.”

DRA – together with its BEE partner Shanduka Resources – focuses on the African market. “About 80% of our current projects, in terms of turnover, are in Africa, and 80% of our African projects are in South Africa,” explains Uys, who moves into the MD’s chair in the new year. International business is handled by DRA’s separate overseas companies based in London, India, Canada and Australia.

The company specialises in providing technologically advanced processing plants and engineering services. Its engineers are qualified and represent skills in engineering design; mine planning and design; project and construction management; process, mechanical and winder engineering; electrical and instrumentation engineering, as well as specialised electrical engineering consulting services. The company also offers services in feasibility studies, procurement of equipment and supplies, fabrication and erection, commissioning and training.

Apart from its capabilities as a project company, DRA claims to have some specific areas of unique technical expertise, among these are high voltage power system filtration equipment, and mine winders.

DRA has expanded its core expertise over more than 20 years to include a comprehensive portfolio of services ranging from pre-feasibility studies to all-inclusive lump sum or EPCM contracts.


Aerial view of PPRust North expansion
project – platinum concentrator
under construction

Project and construction management
These services include preparation of commercial terms and conditions to suit the client, customised order formats, and cost reporting to the client’s in-house procedures. The company also offers in-house procurement services, and provides site control and management, as well as offices and conference facilities for remote site locations.

Process engineering
DRA covers a broad spectrum of mineral expertise and services, ranging from feasibility studies, conceptual and detail design, to successful commissioning. It can conceptualise and design mineral processes from run of mine (ROM) ore to saleable product. This includes crushing, milling, screening, flotation, leaching, gravity separation, thickening, filtration, driers and roasters, diamond sorting, leach and solvent extraction and electrowinning.

Mechanical engineering
“We have become the top supplier of processing plants and engineering services to the platinum, chrome and coal sectors, and we have been at the cutting edge of diamond recovery technology for the past 18 years,” says Uys. “Our platinum client base now includes almost every primary platinum producer in South Africa, with plants designed and built by the company producing some 3 million ounces of platinum a year,” he adds. “We are the largest South African contractors in chromium plants, and more recently we added iron ore, nickel and zinc to this impressive capability.”

Electrical & instrumentation

The company provides a comprehensive range of stand-alone electrical engineering services for the mining industry in Southern Africa. The range includes: substation design; generation stations for remote mine power supplies; harmonic studies and filter design; power system analyses; turnkey PFC and MD systems; software development for power system applications; instrumentation, PLC programming and data communications; and SCADA.


The Tati Nickel project in

DRA also offers comprehensive electrical and mechanical services for winding plant. Its areas of expertise include: new projects; equipment specifications; project management; procurement of new or second hand winders; refurbishments and upgrades; duty cycle calculations; drum shell, drum shaft and brake component design and stress calculations; training courses; software engineering; accident/failure investigations; technical audits and risk assessments; final acceptance tests; statutory winder examinations; mine elevator design; winder automation; automated loading stations; fully automatic endless rope haulage systems; shaft and headgear designs; and audits.

Contract operations and maintenance
Finally, DRA’s sister company, Minopex, complements and completes the company’s overall capability, offering clients a total solution to maximise profits from their mineral resource development and exploitation. As operations contractor of choice, Minopex operates a variety of process facilities which includes platinum, gold, diamonds and chromium.

This comprehensive range of services has resulted in DRA becoming involved in a variety of major projects in Southern Africa.

The company’s biggest current project – the R4 billion Khumani iron ore mine for Assmang in the northern Cape – is due for completion in early 2008 with a target of producing 1.4 million tonnes by the end of June. “Originally scheduled to produce at a rate of 8.4 million tonnes per annum by mid 2008 – the project is now being expanded to reach a production rate of 10 million tonnes per annum by July 2009,” Uys reveals. “In an African context this project has moved us into the big league.”

Other main projects include a 50/50 joint venture with TWP Consulting, called Vhumbanani Projects, which is in the final construction and early commissioning phases of the EPCM contract for the new R2.6 billion concentrator at Anglo Platinum’s Potgietersrust Platinum (PPRust) mine, near Mokopane – destined to rank as the biggest platinum concentrator in South Africa; the R1.5 billion Elands platinum mine, near Brits, which is due to be producing concentrate in the final quarter of 2007, reaching full production by 2011.

“In the coal industry, we are finishing off the Middelburg middlings expansion project which has just become operational, and involves an additional processing module and the upgrading of the existing two modules,” Uys continues. “This, together with the new spirals plant, increases the capacity from 720 to 1 650 tph. We are also busy with pre-engineering on the Douglas Middelburg optimisation project (a new Greenfields project). Both of these are BHP Billiton operations,” he confirms.

“We are also finishing off the coal processing plant currently under construction for Anglo Coal’s Mafube coalfields near Witbank,” says Uys. DRA is introducing large process equipment which includes 4.2m wide x 10.8m long vibrating screens and 1.5m diameter cyclones. The plant was due to be handed over to the client as we went to press.


Aerial view of Elandsfontein
platinum mine

“In the past year we have been busy with substantial project work at Tati Nickel in Botswana and Nkomati in South Africa,” says Uys. “The highlight at Tati is the DMS pre-concentration project, which has made it possible for the mine to recognise lower grade reserves through DMS rejecting waste before it goes into the concentrator,” he adds, “and at Nkomati we have just finished a new 100 kiloton/month concentrator, and we are in the preengineering phase of the new Phase 2 MMZ concentrator.”

Looking north, DRA was appointed as the EPCM contractor for the Phase One concentrator module of the Zimplats Ngezi project in Zimbabwe. The project is designed to produce one million ounces of platinum a year, and Ngezi has proven ore reserves of 704 million tons.

A few years ago DRA designed and implemented the expansion of the Mimosa platinum concentrator, also in Zimbabwe. A further upgrade is currently in progress and will increase the monthly capacity from 150 to 175 000 tonnes.

Moving overseas, two diamond recovery plants for De Beers have been delivered to the Snap Lake and Victor projects in Canada. These plants were fully assembled in South Africa prior to the modules being shipped. This project recently received the prestigious steel export award from the South African Institute of Steel Construction. The plants have been re-assembled and are at various stages of commissioning.

“As far as the future is concerned, the industry is experiencing an unprecedented boom, and DRA is very well placed to share in the good times and assist our clients to achieve their objectives,” Uys believes. “There is of course the challenge of the skills shortage and the availability of high-calibre people,” he concludes, “and this presents a fine balance between securing work and matching it with teams that can deliver successful projects.”