South Africans win contract to build Australia's deepest mine

16 September 2007 | 06:05 Code : 15267 Geoscience events
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South African company TWP had won a contract to establish the deepest mine in Australia, TWP Australia MD Bryan Bailie said in Perth on Wednesday.Bailie told Mining Weekly Online in an exclusive interview that the new R3,6-billion Perseverance Deeps project, which was being undertaken by BHP Billiton Nickel West, would involve the sinking of a vertical shaft to a depth of 1 400 m.This would be 300 m deeper than Australia’s current deepest at 1 100 m.He said that the new 6,5-m diameter, three-million-tons-a-year shaft would be sunk at the Leinster nickel operation, 700 km north-east of Perth.Tenders for the sinking of the shaft and for the double-drum winding equipment would be invited shortly, followed by tenders for the head-frame and crusher.TWP, which plans to apply to be listed on the main board of the JSE,  had been awarded an engineering, procurement, construction, management (EPCM) contract, which was to be awarded in two stages, the first being a definitive feasibility study, including detailed engineering to 80% completion and 100% completion on early works and long lead.Stage one was scheduled for completion in December 2008 and board approval for stage two was expected by March 2009 and implementation by August 2013.“It’s effectively a definitive feasibility study plus detailed engineering rolled into one,” the South African head of TWP Australia said.Besides the vertical shaft, the scope of work included the construction of associated surface and underground infrastructure, the underground run-of-mine jaw-crushing plant, the materials-handling system, the ventilation, the dewatering, the underground services infrastructure and the replacement of services infrastructure impacted by subsidence of the existing openpit.Pit subsidence was compromising the integrity of the existing shaft, compressor houses and workshops and the new shaft would be located in a stable zone, unaffected by block-cave-mining-linked subsidence.“They are currently sub-level cave mining and will also be block-cave mining,” Bailie said.Most of the shaft design work would be assigned to TWP’s Johannesburg offices and TWP Australia itself was being ramped up to provide full EPCM and project-management capability with a planned staff complement of 150.TWP employs 800 people worldwide at offices in four locations in South Africa, one in Australia and one in Turkey and has designed and project managed the sinking of some 14 km of vertical shafts in South Africa.

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