Although its knowledge centre is in The Netherlands, Royal IHC has been active in the African mining market for several decades. By combining its extensive experience in dredging with mining know-how, it has long been delivering tailor-made solutions that are both safe and sustainable.
The company’s high-performance dredgers go a long way to making IHC a reliable partner for any dredge mining operation. This is no different in the demanding conditions of Africa where safety, optimising water (re)use, and the circular economy are crucial topics.
A changing industry
As in other mining regions, Africa is facing a changing landscape and is being looked upon to take responsibility for its social and environmental impacts. Mining companies will also increasingly use data to optimise their operations and improve employee health and safety.
“We have a long tradition in the delivery of dredge mining and mineral separation facilities, and understand the issues facing the African market,” says IHC Mining’s Managing Director Hans Greve. “IHC is also increasingly involved in mineral slurrification and transportation, and through our regional offices we are proud to support the local industry in overcoming any unique challenges.”
Advantages of dredge mining
Cooperating with a partner such as IHC is vital when it comes to ensuring a productive dredge mining operation. This is a competitive alternative for dry (‘truck and shovel’) methods and offers many advantages. For example, it delivers a high unit production and the use of electric-powered dredgers results in a low carbon footprint. Other benefits include low dust contamination, minimal (to no) water drainage required, and low operating costs.
In dry areas where dredging is not feasible, the advantages of slurry transport can still be used with a dry mining slurrification unit. Slurry transport is considered to be the most cost-effective method of material transport, and as the mining, slurrification and pumping equipment are combined, the logistics for such an operation can be integrated. IHC’s knowledge on water management can also be used to close the water loop and ensure optimal resource use.
Equipment is only the beginning
When selecting dredge equipment, several criteria must be considered including the characteristics of the deposit. Two main vessel types can then be considered: cutter suction dredgers (CSDs) and wheel suction dredgers.
Both have a high unit capacity and accuracy, and a restricted dredging depth, but there are notable differences. For coherent soils a cutter is required, while IHC’s dredge wheel is preferred for free-flowing materials.
Site conditions and project demands help determine which vessel is right for the job. However, choosing the most appropriate equipment is only part of the journey for IHC, which plays an active role throughout the dredge mining life cycle.
This begins with advisory services in which IHC’s expertise includes resource evaluation, test work and feasibility studies, through to equipment delivery and life-cycle support. At this stage, IHC can provide bespoke maintenance programmes, as well as remote monitoring solutions.
This unique commitment to the total mining cycle has seen IHC involved in a number of projects in Africa. As an example, it delivered four wheel suction dredgers and two CSDs to Richards Bay Minerals – the world’s largest dredge mining operation. And IHC’s dredger JULIA will help Kenmare Resources to increase its production.
“IHC’s vast dredging experience and mining knowledge allows us to add value at all stages of the mining cycle,” continues IHC Mining’s Commercial Director Africa Rajesan Naiker. “We offer long-term support on any dredge mining operation, both large and small scale, and from our office in South Africa, we cooperate closely with the regional market to meet individual requirements and build close relationships.”