South African engineering contractor Murray & Roberts Cementation has amassed a number of accreditations and achievements of late. Most significant among these is the impressive safety record of three million fatality-free shifts at Kroondal Platinum Mine in the North West province.

The company is responsible for the contract mining for Aquarius Platinum South Africa at Kroondal, and also recently attained ISO 9001:2008 and OHSAS 18001:2007 accreditation on this.

The company currently has an overall lost-time injury-frequency rate (LTIFR) of 3.39 based on one-million work hours and a LTIFR of 3.58 for its contract mining division. It employs 11,000 people, of which 40% are engaged in contract mining. Murray & Roberts Cementation business development executive Allan Widlake says, “The company’s systems and training initiatives are paying dividends as can be seen with the results it is achieving on site.

Training accreditation

The company’s Bentley Park training facility, near Carletonville on the West Rand, carries the Mining Qualifications Authority. The facility is considered to be the largest in-house training facility for mining contracting employees in South Africa, and is also ISO 9001:2000, ISO 14001:2004 and OHSAS 18001:1999 certified.

The training centre boasts an e-learning centre for competence A, B, and C, as well as HIV awareness, says Widlake.

Bentley Park has mock-up facilities to ensure that training is facilitated in an environment as close to reality as possible, simulating conventional mining and shaft-sinking activities. Training focuses on systems, people and behaviour and complies with the company’s overall safety system.

Meanwhile, Murray & Roberts Cementation’s behaviour initiative, the ‘1st choice’ programme, is an attempt to involve all its employees to ensure a common set of values across the operating sites with the added spin-off of improving the company’s safety performance. Widlake says, “the company is in the final stage before direct implementation of the programme with the work force.” He believes that there will be many spin-offs from it, including improved behaviour, improved safety and continuous new production improvement.

Murray & Roberts Cementation has also introduced a ‘licence to supervise’ training course to up skill the level of supervision provided on our sites. So far, 35% of the company’s supervisors have undergone training for the programme with a focus on people skills, he says, adding that it has been well received by supervisors as well as clients.

Beneficial contractors

Meanwhile, Murray & Roberts Cementation reports that it offers several benefits to the mining industry as contractor in the supply of services in contract or toll mining.

“The company has a mine engineering department, based in Johannesburg, that has the capability and resources to provide small mining houses with a range of services, such as specialist studies on particular ore bodies, mine design and feasibility and optimisation studies of particular mining methods and equipment and labour,” says Widlake.

The company also provides clients with financial and safety systems on site to assist in the running of a mine.

New contracting trends

In other developments, Widlake says that, during the past six months, tenders have gone out for a large number of shaft-and-mine-development type projects and, that at this stage, there is greater value in projects outside South Africa’s borders than within, and in particular in Africa’s Copperbelt area.

He believes that the contacting industry has not yet fully recovered from the financial crisis and, as pricing in the market is very competitive. “The fact that the company has been awarded contracts bodes well for us,” he says.

A new contract for Murray & Roberts Cementation involves a small shaft-sinking project in the Copperbelt region and it is currently engaged in the pre-sink phase. The company has also increased its market share of the contract-mining sphere, gaining two contracts at existing mines on the eastern limb of South Africa’s Bushveld Complex.

Meanwhile, Widlake says that there is far greater sharing of resources and information between the different companies making up the Cementation Group, which has operating companies in Canada, Australia, South Africa and South America. The local company recently sent its drawing office experts to South America to assist in work being carried out there, and also sent some of its drill string to assist in raiseboring operations being undertaken by the Australian company in Mongolia.

The Canadian company is assisting the South African company with a new shaft-sinking approach and in understanding the implications of cold weather on projects.

New premises

Murray & Roberts Cementation is moving offices to the Murray & Roberts Douglas Roberts Centre, on Skeen Boulevard, in Bedfordview, Johannesburg. The company will occupy two floors in the newly refurbished head office building, which will allow room for expansion.