Minova is the trusted partner of choice in sub-Saharan Africa and is continuing to create, develop and deliver exceptional mining services to its customers
Writer: Phoebe Calver
Project Manager: Donovan Smith
Minova Africa’s long-standing roots go back to 1975, when Fosroc – a UK based company – established Fosroc Mining International Group in South Africa and began to manufacture grouts for both mining and construction industries in the country.
Since that point in time the business has experienced exceptional growth organically, as well as through strategic acquisitions. However, the main focus of the Company has never deterred from serving the mining industry, predominantly through the use of rock support systems.
“We changed the Group name to Minova Africa in 2003,” begins Nathan Williams, General Manager at Minova Africa. “Since 2007 we have also been a part of Orica, a company that is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and is the world’s largest supplier of mining explosives; ensuring throughout that we have retained our own branding and predominantly independent operations.”
Although Minova Africa has retained its focus on serving the mining industry, it has made moves during the past two years to extend its presence within geotechnical and construction through the utilisation of applications and product expertise.
“Our product portfolio has experienced a steady growth since the launch of our flagship product named Lokset Resin Capsules, made specifically for rock-bolting,” explains Williams. “We have expanded to manufacture a range of encapsulated and bulk cement grouts for rock bolting, rock surface protection and underground cavity filling.
“Our associated sub-contractors also manufacture mining backfill binders, stemming capsules for blast-holes and several variations of rock bolts and wire mesh that are set to Minova formulations or designs.”
In the present day with its combination of rock bolts, resin and cement grouts and drill rigs, Minova has reached a point of unrivalled understanding when it comes to rock bolting issues, ensuring the Company is able to support its customers with the optimal rock bolting strategies for their needs.
Understanding customer needs
In order to understand the needs, problems and objectives of its customers and their industries, Minova maintains close contact which will enable it to develop and adapt systems in order to perfectly suit the required needs.
“These adaptations are included within our products themselves, as well as the general manufacturing and service quality that we are able to offer,” continues Williams. “Some examples of this can be seen in the development of both Conbex and Fillcem backfill binder systems, where we had to make adjustments in order to meet the requirements of deep, wide-reef gold mines and our spin-to-stall resin capsule bolting processes.”
Many of the Company’s products have grown through innovations and site-specific changes that have led them to international use and success. Innovations and new techniques are also introduced through communications with Minova Africa’s sister company, which are then rolled out and enable customers to stay up-to-date with the leading global practices.
“The most recent example of this is the use of Tekcrete Fast M, a product that was developed in the US for the stabilisation of shock-damaged structures,” adds Williams. “The products are now rapidly growing in popularity and usage in Africa, providing our clients with ultra-fast, ultra-strong spray-on reinforcement to use on exposed rock surfaces.”
Product development is always at the forefront of Minova’s work and following in that vein, the Company is also looking to the future of the mining industry through greater use of technology. This looks set to include remote control and automated equipment and processes, alongside digitalisation allowing decisions to be made in real time and based on reliable data.
“We know that this will enable mines in the future to achieve higher safety levels, faster mining and lower costs,” affirms Williams. “We’re extremely excited to see these developments falling into place and are already witnessing the benefits of the significant investments made by our parent company, Orica, in its digital technologies.”
Within its realm of expertise, Minova Africa is currently involved in a selection of exciting projects including work on slim-hold drilling, cement developments and resin capsule insertion systems.
“At present we are working to integrate our Autorock drill rigs, special drill steels, drill bits and high-tensile steel rock bolts in order to develop our slim-hole drilling capabilities,” continues Williams. “Alongside that we have also worked on a large-scale project that involves the filling of a huge cavity that was threatening to destabilise the shaft on a deep-level gold mine.
“We’ve been able to successfully modify our Tekseal cement foam in order to pump it into the cavity which lies at more than 3,000 metres underground.”
The Company is dedicating large amounts of time to the development of its products, including Capcem K40P cement and its Minova Quick-Chem resin capsule insertion system for mechanised operations.
Williams adds: “We are working hard to build upon the improvements made in recent years to secure the cap to the resin capsule, which we are achieving through mechanising the entire process.”
Alongside its expansive projects on current products, the Company is also looking into the new industrialisation of yielding rock bolts. Specifically, these rock bolts can accept both large and rapid rock movement and are increasingly required within South Africa’s deep mines, as well as mines and tunnels within soft rock.
Williams states: “As well as the work we are carrying out here on Yielding rock bolts, Minova Global is pursuing these developments in the USA, Europe and Australia.”
Through working with one of the Company’s manufacturing partners, it’s developing sophisticated coupling technology that will enable faster installation times at a reduced cost and is providing encouraging results to move forward with.
Expanding industry presence
Within the Minova Global organisation, Minova Africa’s primary responsibilities are situated within South Africa; however, it is also expanding its services with customers in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, the DRC and Ghana.
“We are actively expanding our presence in Africa, and have been able to achieve this through direct representation via a combination of agents and distributors,” explains Williams. “It has become a rule to closely study the potential on a project-by-project basis, weighing up the possible outcomes alongside country risk.”
In order to handle this new uptake and wider spread of business, the Company is implementing an array of new training programmes, using both internal and external expertise.
“Taking into account our training programmes, we also wanted to implement a business coaching programme for our leading lights,” adds Williams. “This predominantly involves web-based, weekly one-to-one coaching sessions that we feel are truly benefitting our employees and their skills.”
The combination of its long history as a solutions provider within Africa and the Company’s ability to remain up-to-date with current trends, has provided it with a unique leading position in the industry.
“We will continue to provide long-term, new and future clientele with the ability to work together with our team at Minova to create value-engineered, cost-effective, innovative and safe project solutions,” concludes Williams. “We feel optimistic for the future of African mining and will continue to work tirelessly to sustain this future, working on safer, more efficient and automated solutions.”