A view of the Weir HBF (Heavy Bay Foundry) in Port Elizabeth, where centrifuge parts will be cast.Weir Minerals Africa has established a dedicated manufacturing operation at its Middelburg, Mpumalanga facility to produce Aspir™ centrifuges. “This represents a strategic investment by Weir Minerals Africa in order to service its key customers in the heartland of the coal mining and processing industry in South Africa,” Leon Toerien, Weir Minerals Africa, Product Manager, says. The Middelburg operation will supply machines, spare parts and aftermarket support as well as technical crews, which are already available.

“We will also be making sub-assemblies available on a service exchange basis for the different types of Aspir™ centrifuges. This is in keeping with the trend by mining houses to increasingly outsource their equipment supply, service and maintenance requirements. Not only are we able to offer a complete solutions approach, but our strategic location in the Mpumalanga coalfields will reduce lead times dramatically and allows us to be proactive in responding to our customers’ requirements,” Toerien comments.

In addition, this supports Weir Minerals’ solutions focus by expanding its product portfolio for the coal mining and processing industry. “The Aspir™ centrifuges dovetail perfectly with our current product range. It definitely complements what we can offer already in terms of pumps, cyclones, screens, washers and processing equipment. We are very positive regarding the growth opportunities in this sector of the mining industry, particularly given the expansion of existing coal projects and the introduction of Greenfield operations to feed Eskom’s future coal requirements for power generation.”

Following Weir’s acquisition of Aspir™ in Australia in 2013, Weir Minerals Africa has now taken the next step in manufacturing and assembling these centrifuges locally. This has also given Weir the opportunity to introduce some of the latest innovations in the wet-end areas of the centrifuges. This is in addition to some modifications to the wedge wire baskets. These developments mean that the Aspir™ centrifuges from Weir Minerals Africa will be the most advanced products of their kind available locally.

“While the first units were imported fully from Australia, the next generation will effectively be manufactured locally. We will cast some components at the Weir HBF (heavy bay foundry) in Port Elizabeth and will obtain the required rubber and polyurethane elements from our Linatex® rubber lining technology. In other words, this will be a completely integrated offering which will be manufactured at our facility in Middelburg,” Toerien says.

Commenting on establishing a new manufacturing operation at a point when the global mining industry is in a downturn, Toerien says: “It is actually an ideal opportunity to take this step, as it gives sufficient time to establish the operation and ensure it is up and running by the time the market turns. Weir Minerals Africa has successfully implemented this strategy before.”

The Aspir™ range comprises coarse (300 tph) and fine (60 tph) centrifuges. “We will be introducing a new machine at the end of the year with a throughput of 100 tph,” Toerien reveals.

In addition to South Africa, Weir Minerals Africa will also be targeting the Aspir™ centrifuges in the broader coal sector in Africa, particularly in the burgeoning market of Mozambique. “We are definitely considering diversifying beyond coal in the near future and will introduce the Aspir™ centrifuges to target the copper mining sector in Africa. We are excited by the integration of Aspir™ which allows us to introduce the latest cyclone technologies and innovations to the African mining industry.”

The Aspir™ coarse and fine coal centrifuges utilise the latest technology available in coal dewatering applications. Combining high quality wear resistant components with an advanced drive mechanism, Aspir™ centrifuges provide outstanding service life with minimal maintenance costs. Features include feed chutes and product chambers lined with alumina ceramic tiles, a centrate chamber lined with Wear Stop™ trowelable wear resistant compound, high quality wedge wire centrifuge baskets and a sampling door for product sampling and inspection purposes.

Toerien reveals that Weir Minerals Africa has already supplied spare parts to a major coal operation in Mozambique and is in negotiations with other coal majors, indicating the increasing importance of the aftermarket as a growth area.

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