Weir Minerals Africa, part of the LSE-listed Weir Group, is currently performing strongly, more than maintaining its share of the African market and also moving into new geographies on the continent such as Nigeria.
“Overall, we have a healthy order book,” says Rajen Govender, interim regional MD of Weir Minerals Africa. “The current surge in commodity prices has given a big boost to the mining industry, which has led not only to mine owners pushing up production from existing facilities but also to new projects being approved. As a supplier of a wide range of minerals processing equipment, we are obviously benefitting from this upturn in activity.”
He adds that Weir Minerals Africa, like most suppliers, is susceptible to the current global shipping constraints which have arisen as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and other contributing factors but says the company is managing this problem in close association with its customers to ensure minimal impact on their operations.
“These constraints have also led us to look at a greater degree of local manufacture,” he states. “We already have a considerable local manufacturing capability at our Alrode and Isando premises in Johannesburg and our Heavy Bay Foundry in Gqeberha but there is scope for this to be expanded. We have a team looking at the options right now.”
Weir Minerals Africa provides products and systems for slurry transportation, mine dewatering, crushing and grinding, classification and separation, wear lining, corrosion protection and tailings management. Among its world-class brands are Warman®, GEHO®, Cavex®, Enduron®, Trio®, Linatex® and Isodry™. The broad range of equipment available enables Weir Minerals Africa to provide its customers with integrated solutions addressing every part of the minerals cycle.
While the South African market remains an integral part of the company’s business, the rest of Africa is becoming increasingly important and now accounts for over 50 % of the revenue. “We are seeing good growth in the SADC region and in West Africa, and we can also report a significant turnaround in East Africa and Central Africa, notably Tanzania and the DRC respectively,” Govender notes. “We are also excited to have secured our first major order in Nigeria.”
The Nigerian order – for an iron ore project – is substantial and has seen the supply of equipment for screening, washing, grinding and pumping. The order includes Trio® jaw and cone crushers and apron feeders, Enduron vibrating screens, an Enduron high pressure grinding roll (HPGR), Trio coarse washers and a blade mill, as well as Warman slurry pumps. The vibrating screens for the project, which is due to be commissioned shortly, include two massive 51-tonne double-deck banana screens manufactured in South Africa.
Govender says a major focus area for Weir Minerals Africa is sustainability. “When we talk about sustainability, we are talking about reducing energy consumption, saving water and cutting emissions across every aspect of our operations, including our offices and manufacturing plants,” he explains. “We are making good progress with this in South Africa and our foundry in Gqeberha, for example, has recently received a divisional award for its water harvesting initiative.
“We are also, of course, prioritising energy savings in our products, allowing them to run more efficiently and with lower consumption without productivity being compromised.” He adds that the Enduron HPGR technology can achieve energy savings of up to 40 % in crushing and grinding, which are traditionally amongst the most energy intensive processes in mining.
Govender also emphasises that Weir Minerals has a continuous programme of investment in digital technology and points to its Synertex Industrial Internet of Things (IITT) platform as a major step forward for the company. It allows data from machines to be captured and analysed, with the major benefits being energy optimisation, reduced maintenance and enhanced productivity.