Best ranked tanks: Betterect employs pan-African project know-how and SA steel to build tanks for RioZim mine

One of the tank strake sections for the RioZim project in the process of being rolled and joined

Betterect, a South African specialist in steel fabrication and erection of mining, petrochemical and other industrial structures, is drawing on its extensive experience of successfully delivering steel projects locally and across Africa to fabricate and install ten large steel tanks for RioZim, at its Cam and Motor gold mine in Zimbabwe. The tanks – of which the largest measure 12 m in diameter and 12.7 m in height – are part of an expansion of the gold processing plant at the mine.

Betterect has also been appointed as the only structural mechanical piping and platework (SMPP) contractor on the project; and, as such, will be fabricating and installing all structural steel, piping, mechanical and process equipment accordingly.

On completion of the expansion project, the Cam and Motor mine’s monthly production will increase from 80kg to 167kg, making it the largest gold mine in Zimbabwe – as well as the only refractory gold ore treatment plant in the entire country.

The front end of the refractory gold ore treatment plant will have a nameplate capacity of 2 500 tons per day, and the BIOX tanks will treat 100 tons of flotation concentrate per day.

BIOX is a robust, easy to operate and sustainable technology for the treatment of refractory gold concentrates, developed and owned by project designers Outotec.

Betterect is fabricating the tanks with locally-sourced South African steel, which has reduced the overall project lead time by six to eight weeks. Columbus Stainless has supplied 250 tons of grade 2304 duplex steel for the project; while South African steel and aluminium supplier Stalcor is responsible for the processing of the material.

“We are proud of the ‘Team Africa’ nature of the RioZim project, which is being delivered by a South African team of suppliers to an African project,” says Managing Director of Betterect, Nicolette Skjoldhammer.

She adds that – particularly in light of how the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed widespread economic dependence on Asian products – the RioZim collaboration is an example of one of the ways in which local industrial supply chains can drive African growth.

“This happens when companies focusing on the supply, processing, fabrication and erection of steel structures join forces to deliver pan-African infrastructure projects in the mining, power generation, petrochemical and other industries,” she asserts.

The RioZim steel tank fabrication project, which includes structural mechanical piping and platework (SMPP) components – kicked off in July 2019 and is making excellent progress, taking the industry-wide and unavoidable Covid-19 pandemic-related delays into account.

Betterect is fabricating two types of tanks in this project, namely bulk standard and OKTOP reactor units from carbon and duplex stainless steel, including design integration of the original BIOX technology from project designers Outotec.

Skjoldhammer says the company is fabricating a number of the tanks at its facility here in Johannesburg, before transporting and installing them at the RioZim operation; while only the largest are being built on site. She explains that this approach reduces the safety risks inherent in on-site work; as well as the logistical risk factors which come with cross-border, in-country work: “For example, we have ensured that as much of the so-called ‘hot’ work (such as welding) has been done at our facility in Johannesburg.”

“The challenges typically involved in delivering steel projects pan-Africa include – amongst many others – logistical issues such as obtaining the required in-country work permits, managing of export and customs requirements, the issuing of bonds and cross-border site establishment.

Notwithstanding these – and as well as delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic-related challenges – Betterect has once again proved its adeptness at successfully overcoming challenges and is on track to complete the project within the original planned project duration,” she explains.

Skjoldhammer adds that the smooth supply of the steel material by Betterect’s South African partners Columbus and Stalcor contributed to the overall project success: “The project underlines that Betterect and our partners have a competitive advantage in undertaking projects in Africa for both local and international clients.”

Betterect has a sound track record of supplying pan-African mining and energy projects with large steel equipment and infrastructure. Its milestone projects include the delivery of seven stainless steel thickeners for a project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); the fabrication and installation of thickeners for the Swakopmund uranium mine in Namibia; and the fabrication and installation of structural steel and tanks for a gas-fired power plant in Mozambique.

Manit Shah, Group Chief Operations Officer at RioZim Limited commends Betterect and its ‘Team Africa’ partners Columbus Steel and Stalcor for their contributions to and participation in this milestone project: “The RioZim BIOX project serves as a great example and reference point in promoting African steel products and fabrication services to the pan-African market – and is a showcase for what ‘Team Africa’ can collectively achieve,” he remarks.

“The success of this project is not only attributable to Betterect’s substantial experience of working in the steel sector locally and in Africa for over four decades; but also to our partnership with local steel suppliers, whom we would like to sincerely thank for their contribution and team work.

The sterling-quality material and processing capabilities which are available in South Africa – together with Betterect’s expertise in manufacturing large equipment and steel structures for the mining sector – has formed a productive partnership, to the ultimate benefit of our client,” Skjoldhammer concludes. 

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