The BKM project, near Kathu in the Northern Cape, was a R4 billion greenfields project with an original design capacity of 8.4 million tpa export product. The mine consists of an open pit mine with ore treatment and dispatch facilities. An extension to the original project, upgrading the facility to a 10 million tpa export mine, has also been completed. DRA was the main EPCM contractor and managing contractor for the project, which included the construction of primary and secondary crushing, run of mine overland conveying, blending stockpiles, tertiary closed circuit crushing, washing and screening plant, fines dewatering and water recovery circuit, jig beneficiation plants, product stockpiles, load out facilities, rail infrastructure and the mine information system.

The skills shortage experienced by the industry did have its impact on the project and it was critical for the project to source the right calibre of staff. Although the team of engineers and construction professionals were young, they all displayed the tenacity, dedication and commitment to bring a major project like Khumani to a successful conclusion. DRA owes its success to such dedicated and committed individuals who go all the way to get the job done safely.

The safety record is impressive with in excess of 10 million man-hours being worked, with no lost time injuries during the last 6 million man-hours worked and no fatalities during the last 8.5 million man-hours worked. This record is quite remarkable in the construction industry equating to an LITFR of only 0.04 (per 200,000 man-hours). The DRA safety management plan ‘Beyond Zero’, which is a people and behaviour-based programme, advocates that safety goes beyond statistics and routine training and inspections. Beyond Zero is a way of life for staff at DRA.

With phase one of the project approved in November 2005, bulk earthworks commenced during June 2006, five months from award. Other significant milestones are:

  • Steel erection commencement: March 2007, 14 months from project award
  • Commissioning commencement: August 2007, 19 months from project award
  • First ore delivered to primary crusher: December 2007, 24 months from project award
  • Start of production ramp up: April 2008, 27 months from project award

By September 2008 the mine operation was producing at design capacity with the performance test successfully completed.

DRA’s design efforts peaked with a design team of 235 people. As a result of the skills shortage, design was executed through the newly established DRA India office for the first time and various other local consultants were also employed.

The project has set a significant milestone in the mining industry with respect to the fast tracking of large engineering projects, with 10,000t of steel being erected in a mere ten months. The key to the success of fast track projects of this nature is the implementation of value-adding strategies including integrated teamwork, value engineering, process industry practices, constructability and front end engineering practices, which focus the entire project team on the preparation of a realistic and challenging schedule, a zero design defect mentality, and the integration of the design and construction efforts.

The Khumani project is a classic success story characterised by hard work and determination.

The construction statistics are:

  • 60,000m³ of cast concrete
  • 5,000t of structural concrete reinforcing
  • 2.4 million m³ of earthworks
  • 10,000t of structural steel erected
  • 3,500t of platework installed
  • 11,650m² of flooring
  • 650km of standard electric cabling
  • 20km of HV cables; 40km instrumentation cable and 70km fibre optic cable
  • 37km of piping, including 19km of large bore in-plant piping
  • 82 conveyors with a total length of 25.5km