The two new concentrators, Eastern Platinum (EPC) and Karee (K4) at Lonmin’s Eastern Platinum and Karee Platinum Mine near Marikana, have been commissioned, as planned 18 months ago, during October 2002. DRA was responsible for the engineering, procurement, and construction management (EPCM) of the concentrators, and within 24 hours of running material through the new plant, it produced concentrate.

This feat has certainly entrenched DRA as the world’s most experienced contractor for PGM plants. Seasoned MD, Brian Dowding, says that in all his years of experience, he has never witnessed a plant start-up with so little spillage.

Project Manager Chiel van Niekerk says that the concentrators, which boast an availability of 95% and above, are based on the Karee B stream model which was commissioned by DRA in February 2001. They are compact, fully automated plants with minimum labour requirements. The electrical controls and all instrumentation are located at a central point.

DRA has perfected the design of concentrator plants and, with added and up-to-date instrumentation, is able to ensure maximum recovery, with any problems noted and rectified immediately.

The commissioning procedure for the two plants was extremely detailed, involving various checks and balances to ensure a successful start-up. The procedure was formalised by extensive documentation which provided detailed punch listing. Contractors issued construction completion requests and punch-list inspections fell into three categories:

· All safety related categories, completed prior to commissioning

· B-category items involving contractual obligations, completed before client take-over

· C-category items involving additional requests by the client, completed prior to client take-over.

Both plants were started simultaneously and both ramped up to full operation within the same week, exactly on schedule – probably a world record in PGM project management.

DRA undertakes all aspects of projects from initial testing, feasibility studies and piloting to final commissioning and plant operation as well as plant extensions and upgrades.