Belt Conveyor Technology Design and Installation of a new Conveyor System at Lumwana Mine

Editor: Marcel Dröttboom

The conveyor system that connects the newly developed Chimiwungo pit at Lumwana Copper Mine to the existing process plant has ben put to operation. The system comprises a 300-metre-long sacrificial conveyor, a 3.4-kilometre-long overland conveyor and a 500-metre-long conveyor feeding the process plant at a design capacity of 5140 tonnes per hour.

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(Picture: Tenova Mining & Minerals)

Tenova Mining & Minerals' bulk materials handling and equipment company, Tenova Takraf Africa, formerly Bateman Engineered Technologies, has successfully executed its contract for the design, supply and installation of the conveyor system that feeds copper ore from the newly developed Chimiwungo pit at Lumwana Copper Mine, to the existing process plant. The Lumwana Copper Mine is an open-cast copper mine in the North West province of Zambia, situated 220 kilometres west of the Copperbelt and 65 kilometres west of the town of Solwezi. It is reported to be Africa's largest copper mine.

Conveying from Chimiwungo pit to the Process Plant

With the development of the new Chimiwungo pit, Lumwana Copper Mine now has two operational mining pits, which have the capability of simultaneously feeding ore to the existing process plant. Ore is already on the new belts, as mining at the copper project now moves out of the lower-grade material in the Malundwe pit, into the new Chimiwungo pit. Equinox Minerals, acquired by Barrick Gold Corporation in July 2011, awarded the contract in April 2012. The scope of the contract included the design, supply, delivery, erection and commissioning of the conveyor system, which comprises a 300-metre-long sacrificial conveyor, a 3.4-kilometre-long overland conveyor and a 500-metre-long conveyor feeding the process plant, at a design capacity of 5140 tonnes per hour. The scope of work included all mechanical and structural equipment, including the transfer towers and chutes, with Tenova Takraf Africa’s battery limit for the project ending at the interface at the top of the civil foundations. All electrical and C&I work was carried out by various other suppliers.

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The ground profile which the overland conveyor had to cross, necessitated several special design features to ensure that belt tensions are maintained. Additionally, a river crossing also had to be negotiated on the longer overland conveyor route.

Project Management, Engineering, and Support Functions

Tenova Takraf Africa was also responsible for project management, engineering, all support functions including procurement, inspection, expedition and logistics, construction site and safety management and commissioning. Committed to the principle of Zero Harm, the company conducts business in a safe and environmentally sensitive manner. Based on this philosophy, the project was completed in line with the standards and targets set. “We believe in a shared responsibility for health, safety and the environment from all employees, contractors, customers and the communities associated with our business operations,” said Philip Le Roux, Tenova Takraf Africa’s business development manager and project manager for the project.

The construction team spent ten months on site in a tented camp. A local Zambian company, Karlsons Consulting Engineers and Project Managers, was responsible for erection under Tenova Takraf Africa’s supervision, whilst the steel structures and most of the mechanical equipment – pulleys, drives and belts – was sourced in South Africa and trucked to Zambia. The total project duration was 15 months.

The biggest Challenges of the Project

“The biggest challenges on this project were the logistics and an aggressive project programme, specifically with construction taking place during the monsoon season in Zambia. “Transportation of materials and equipment in a large number of trucks from South Africa to Zambia, called for great management focus and logistical control. Everyone worked together as a team, resulting in us overcoming various logistical challenges, however, not without some headaches and lessons learned along the way,” said Le Roux. “One of the biggest lessons you learn when working in Africa, is that there is very little tolerance for making mistakes. A small mistake can quickly amount to a large impact on the cost and schedule because of the remoteness of sites, specifically when it comes to the supply of steel and equipment.”