Real Solutions for Sustainable Mining
Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Arron Rampling
Scamont Engineering has evolved over the past four decades to become an engineering powerhouse, servicing the global mining industry with its positive displacement (PD) pumps and pneumatic rock drill product range; with the desire to bring the latest innovations to as many open pit and underground mines as possible in order to better tackle challenges facing the industry on a daily basis.
The acquisition of the Grifo Group in 2013 signalled Scamont’s focus on aggressive expansion in South Africa and the central regions of the continent; in particular Zambia and the DRC, where the Grifo range of multi-stage clearwater pumps are extensively used in high volume dewatering applications.
The acquisition meant that Scamont could offer a complete dewatering solution to the market whereby a client can explore a multitude of dewatering methodologies using either PD pumps or multi-stage clearwater pumps, or combinations of both depending on their specific requirements.
“The acquisition of the Grifo Group - which included a foundry - increased our manufacturing capabilities and capacities, yielding a market-relevant and advanced product range that complements the modern mining industry. We manufacture close-to 100 percent of our products in-house, except for a few outsourced specialised processes; something that puts us head and shoulders above the competition. The Grifo product range still exists, but it is now manufactured by Scamont,” explains Claudio Sandri, Managing Director (MD) of Scamont Engineering.
Equipped with an enhanced and popular product range including Grifo multi-stage clearwater pumps and Scamont slurry pumps, the Company has made a name for itself as a recognised OEM (original equipment manufacturer) with the aptitude to drive efficiencies in South Africa’s mining industry and beyond; boasting a number of longstanding relationships with major mining houses across the gold, platinum, copper, diamond, nickel and cobalt industries.
Scamont operates out of two large and ultra-modern factories, with the Roodepoort facility focussing on the manufacture of PD pumps, the pneumatic rock drill machines and advanced drill delivery rigs, while the Germiston facility focuses on Grifo clearwater pumps and is home to the foundry too. Today, Scamont is taking the business to the next level by continuously investing in the research and development of new products and the continuous improvement of its existing product range.
Scamont’s progression to this commanding position is the result of a forward-thinking strategy that has been in the making since 2001, gradually placing a new generation of employees in decision-making positions after extensive training.
The MD says: “After Scamont’s founder retired and exited the business in 2007, the new executive management team, who are also shareholders, possessed the youth, skillsets and resources to take us forward on a very aggressive growth path. Further impetus to the growth strategy is being provided by our equity partners whom entered the business in order to assist with the Grifo acquisition.”
Training is always ongoing at the Company, a reflection of its commitment to ensure continuous skills development and skill retention. “Ensuring access to the skills we need has meant aligning Scamont with local technical colleges in order to provide young people with intensive four-year long internal apprenticeships. These employees emerge as qualified artisans who are more likely to want to remain with us for the long-term,” further explains Sandri.
A large proportion of Scamont’s 112 employees have benefitted from this modern knowledge transfer process, which is considered the best way to develop the competencies required throughout the value chain that will no doubt contribute to the long-term sustainability of the business, including the requirements for new product innovations.
“The strengths brought by our new team and their innovative use of technology have helped Scamont products gain traction in new business environments around the world. For now however, our focus remains on an aggressive transition beyond South Africa’s borders, starting with our entrance into the Zambian market in 2010,” highlights Sandri.
Although Scamont had been supplying SRD123 pneumatic rockdrills to the Zambian market for more than 25 years, it had always been through local agents. Dissatisfaction with the performance of the agents in Zambia prompted an investigation into that market in 2007. The outcome of the investigation was that the true potential of the Zambian market was exposed.
“What was very clear was that there was great potential for our range of PD pumps to be deployed in most of the mines in Zambia for the purpose of removing mud or underflow from the underground settling systems,” explains Sandri. This potential was realised and as such, Scamont and Karlsons Mining Solutions Zambia Ltd (SKMS) was established in 2010. SKMS is the sole agent for the Scamont range of products in Zambia and DRC.
SKMS is located in Kitwe and boasts 40 employees, the bulk of which are deployed on various pump station operating contracts across a number of Zambian clients.
“Customer access to our products increased and we made sure that technical support and spares were available locally, constructing a new warehouse in Kitwe; providing the same level of service you would expect in South Africa,” Sandri further details.
Furthermore, SKMS is in the process of constructing a new workshop which is to be equipped with machinery suitable for the repair of the entire range of Scamont products.
The MD adds: “This facility will be complete by December 2015 and we will be able to service the entire Central African region from Kitwe, thereby delivering faster turnaround times and reducing logistical costs.”
SKMS was also recently awarded the RGR Technologies agency for Zambia and the DRC. RGR Technologies is an industry leader in the manufacturing of metal and soft-seated, high-pressure trunnion and floating ball valves and check valves for oil & gas, petrochemical, mining and utilities, and paper and pulp industries.
“We are very excited about this development because the RGR valves are installed in conjunction with our products in most installations and therefore further enhance our product offering to the client. We will also be able to carry out repairs of the entire RGR product range at our new facility in Kitwe,” explains Sandri.
Hard rock drilling
Scamont has since the early 1980s manufactured a range of pneumatic rockdrill machines typically used for long hole boring in the mines in Zambia and Zimbabwe. The range is known as the SRD123 and Sandri highlights: “The level of accuracy required in the manufacture of the parts for these machines is extreme and one that we have developed a strong competency in.
“Clients often asked us whether we would consider looking at other elements of the rock drilling environment, which led us to where we are today; with a product that promises to revolutionise rock drilling and provide value to our customers.
“The Shova is a new semi-mechanised rock drill technology suitable for application across all hard rock mining environments from ultra-low stoping widths through to gully and development end applications whilst keeping rock drill operator (RDO) safety and productivity as the primary driver of the design.”
According to recent studies, only 30 percent of South Africa’s platinum production is derived from mechanised mining and the remaining 70 percent remains unmechanised. The major contributor to this statistic is that the average dip of the Merensky and UG2 platinum reef is 18-20 degrees which, in conjunction with low stoping heights, is beyond the working capacity of all current mechanised drilling and mining equipment.
The Shova provides a semi-mechanised solution whereby the role of the RDO is not only guaranteed but significantly improved because of the health and safety enhancements it provides as well as dramatically improving productivity.
By virtue of its unique patented design, the Shova also deals with a number of very relevant current health and safety challenges faced by RDO’s including reduction of noise levels, fogging and the elimination of vibration exposure.
“What is of particular interest is that the RDO can operate the machine whilst being under supported ground at all times and all of the aforementioned benefits are achieved with significantly less exertion levels on the part of the RDO,” adds Sandri.
Simply put, the semi-mechanisation offered by Shova reduces the skill, experience and strength levels required of the RDO, whilst enabling the RDO to operate in a significantly safer environment. This results in improved RDO efficiency and production bonus earnings. This in turn results in the simultaneous enhancement of mine profitability which improves sustainability of mines and ongoing employment levels.
Although in the early stages, the Shova face advance and roof bolting solutions are currently being tested on various sites and the positive reaction promises to bring the growth levels that Scamont strive for. In tandem with this, Scamont’s stringent deadlines for lead times and high inventory stock levels means it already has the reputation for on time delivery, which is so critical in this space for ensuring minimal downtime for mines.
Key to the success behind Scamont is the valued support they receive from its suppliers, some of which have supplied the Company since its inception. “We truly value our supply relationships and acknowledge their contribution to our continued growth story,” adds Sandri.
Scamont’s competence in manufacturing high quality, precision equipment locally - at reasonable prices - backed by the provision of expert consulting and maintenance services, has positioned the company at the forefront of the supply of slurry and clear water pumps and rock drill equipment to the South African, Zambian and global mining industry.
Sandri concludes: “We see every existing mine that does not use our product range as a potential project and as such we have a very focused strategy for the conversion of these projects.
“Armed with Shova, we have the opportunity to introduce alternative and modern technologies that will contribute to the longer term sustainability of the mines we do business with and in so doing meet our aggressive growth objectives.”