Work is progressing well on the cluster decline development at Turffontein, as this project is fast approaching its completion. The contract being undertaken by Murray & Roberts Cementation is on schedule and within budget.

In addition to this, the Turffontein project is tracking 145 days without any injury and has had no reportable injuries for 2005.

Eric Vascotto, business manager at Murray & Roberts Cementation responsible for the Turffontein project, says behaviour based safety was introduced to the project a year ago and the rewards are now being reaped.

The project scope includes a cluster of decline sinking and auxiliary development on the levels. The cluster comprises a material, conveyor, chairlift and RAW decline at 9° (degrees) and are in general 4.5 x 4 metres in dimension. The scope was recently extended to include the raiseboring of silos as well as OPEX development. The OPEX development will comprise haulages, cross-cuts, development raises and box holes.

Vascotto says the original scope of contract called for the drop raising of the silos, however poor ground conditions would not accommodate this method, and the decision was made to raisebore, slipe and line.

Four silos will be raisebored to depths of 37 metres. Three of the silos will have a final lined diameter of 4 metres and the last, which is a ventilation and escape route, will have a 1.6 metre diameter and will be unlined.

Drilling is being done using hand-held machines, with mucking done using LHDs. A dump truck has recently been introduced because the tramming length was becoming too onerous for the LHDs with a resultant reduction in the mining cycle.

Vascotto says another unique equipment addition to the fleet has been a portable rock breaker. This, he says, was introduced as a dual purpose tool – firstly, to break rock on the tip, and secondly, to assist in the barring of the high hanging walls.

Considerable effort is being placed on equipping the cluster declines in order to hand over completed levels for production. This will include chair lift installations, conveyor belts for the movement of ore, permanent services and track-bound materials declines.

Vascotto says the physical condition audits done on individual ends run at an average of between 95 and 98% compliance, and this he, again, attributes to the behaviour based safety approach. These audits are done under normal operating conditions and take physical condition factors such as safety, general tidiness good housekeeping and adherence to standards into account.

Another interesting, and unusual aspect of this contract is the employing of a permanent training officer at this site.

Vascotto explains that the initial requirement was to assess the mine’s safety procedures, and revise and adjust these to suit the mining environment at Turffontein. In the process all critical tasks where the personnel need to be retrained in the correct procedures have been identified and this programme is currently underway.

"An underground development end has been established on Turffontein as the formal training area for this initiative and we expect this to further improve the safety statistics on this contract," Vascotto says.

Commenting on why this step was taken, Vascotto says it was found that training received previously through other avenues was contradictory, and there were discrepancies in procedures which needed to be aligned.

"This will be an ongoing initiative, and the training officer at Turffontein is definitely a permanent position."

In addition to this initiative, previously disadvantaged individuals who are currently in the employee of the company have been identified and are being skilled for promotion within the organisational structure. This, Vascotto says, forms part of the company’s skills development programme.

Work on the Turffontein contract started in 2002 and is expected to be completed early in 2007 after which Phase 3 is likely to commence. This will take the cluster declines from 35 Level down to 40 Level.