M&D Construction Group’s Civil Engineering Division played a large role in assisting Vedanta Zinc International (VZI) and its engineer, procure, construct contractor (EPC), ELB Engineering services, to deliver Gamsberg’s concentrator in an extremely short timeframe to ensure the timely supply of a high global demand for zinc.

The Gamsberg project is located near Aggeneys and is part of the South African zinc grouping’s Black Mountain Mining (BMM) operations in the Northern Cape.

It will exploit one of the largest known, undeveloped orebodies in the world, mining  4-million tons (t) of ore annually from an open pit and producing 250 000 t of zinc-in-concentrate a year at the new concentrator plant during the first phase of operations.

The division mobilised to site in October 2017 and completed the civils component of the work scope, including the flotation plant, as well as infrastructure in the milling zone and the thickener area, comprising the tailings, as well as the zinc and lead thickener, at the end of September this year.

“We grew our team from only 60 people in the initial phases of the works programme to about 300 when the project peaked to complete the concentrator infrastructure in such a short period. Moreover, we had to extend working hours, which were well within the parameters of the Mine Health & Safety Act, as well as our own strict safety policies and those of VZI and ELB Engineering,” Gawie van der Merwe, senior contract manager of M&D Construction Group, says.

A further challenge was closely co-ordinating the civil aspects with the many other construction activities on this multi-disciplinary project.

Moreover, the various contractors had to implement additional measures to ensure the health and safety of their staff working in this confined space and to very tight deadlines.

He attributes much of the success of the civil works to active participation by both the EPC and client, while noting that their decision to introduce incentives to motivate and boost the morale of the many workers also greatly assisted the Civil Engineering Division meet all milestone dates.

Meanwhile, the group’s Roads & Earthworks Division is forging ahead with the various roads that will serve this operation.

It was awarded the contract to construct the external roads in mid-December and it commenced work on this eight month project in February this year.

The contract was extended in August this year to also include the construction of the internal plant roads, based on M&D Construction Group’s stellar contribution towards this project thus far.

Rukesh Raghubir, chief-executive officer of M&D Construction Group, says that the company’s extensive experience working in this region of South Africa on the back of its impressive track record delivering high-quality infrastructure for leading local mining houses placed the Civil Engineering Division in very good stead on this project.

“Certainly, we are very proud to be involved in yet another successful mining-related project. Gamsberg will be BMM/Vedanta’s flagship project as one of the most digitally-advanced mines in Africa that embraces innovative technologies and new methods of working,” Raghubir concludes.