Murray & Roberts Cementation’s acquisition of Concor in 2006 saw the leading mining contracting company inherit several underground coal mining projects and a fleet of flameproof coal mining plant. This robust entrée into the sector has been amplified by a succession of new coal projects, effectively positioning the company as a force with which to be reckoned in this industry.

Among the inherited projects were Anglo Coal contracts for a greenfields boxcut and decline at the Goedehoop Block 20; a 6 metre presink for raiseboring and permanent fan bases at Greenside mine; a ventilation shaft 60 metres by 6 metres in diameter at Goedehoop Block 20, and three roadways through stone, splits, together with a coal run-around at Bank Colliery.

These projects were followed by another Anglo Coal contract to establish three roadways through stone, splits and a coal run-around at its Goedehoop Vlaklaagte Block A operation and later at Goedehoop Block 8, where Murray & Roberts Cementation built four roadways through stone splits and established a coal run-around. The company also successfully completed a decline development through burnt coal and sandstone at Total Coal South Africa’s Forzando coal mine in mid-2010.

BHP Billiton Energy Coal (BECSA) awarded Murray & Roberts Cementation a contract in November 2010 to provide 40 km of rebolting and special netting support over the main travelling and belt roadways, as well as mega seals to protect the underground workings from water ingress at its Khutala colliery.

In May 2011 Murray & Roberts Cementation landed one of its biggest coal projects to date — a contract worth in the region of R1-billion, awarded by the RSV Enco-Goba Coal Joint Venture to provide a men-and-material shaft, a ventilation shaft, a decline and coal seam development on the No. 2 and No. 4 seams at Sasol Mining’s greenfields Impumelelo Mine Project. This contract is expected to be completed by November 2014.

In January 2012 the company was awarded a contract by Continental Coal to develop two 400 metre declines at its Penumbra coal mine and its most recent coal contract was awarded by Anglo American Coal in July 2012 for the establishment of three roadways at Goedehoop Vlaklaagte Block 10.

"We’re very proud to have grown our coal service offering from the mid-2000s to one today that encompasses most of the major coal players in South Africa," Mike Wells, director of mine development at Murray & Roberts Cementation, says. "We’re becoming known in this industry for certain speciality services, such as the re-establishment of continuous miner sections on the other side of discontinuities. This is accomplished through conventional stonework with drill and blast techniques.

"Building on what was inherited from Concor in 2006, today we have an entire fleet of flameproof coal plant, including facedrill rigs, bolters, Aard LHDs, dump trucks, compressors, electrical switchgear, personnel transporters and tractor-trailers. Containerised workshops are part of this offering and all our mobile machinery is equipped with state-of-the-art Booyco collision avoidance systems.

"In terms of skills and experience, our coal team comprises a number of established coal mining crews, some of which were inherited from Concor and others that we have assembled subsequently by appointing coal men with dyed-in-the-wool skills. Safety is paramount to these teams and we have successfully completed numerous projects with zero LTI’s."

Wells adds that coal customers benefit enormously from working with a coal team that is part of an organisation the size of Murray & Roberts Cementation, in terms of access to business structures, safety protocols, procurement procedures and IT systems.