Modern Mining: Featured News

Fluor has successfully completed the construction of Debswana’s Letlhakane Mine Tailings Resource Treatment Plant (LMTRTP), situated in central Botswana. The modular plant, which was designed by Fluor, is currently being commissioned.

The new 3,6 Mt/a modular plant will recover existing coarse diamond tailings and extend Letlhakane’s life of mine by approximately 25 years. Located 190 km west of Francistown, Letlhakane – an open-pit operation – was opened in 1976 and has produced more than 31 million carats since then. More than 800 workers were employed on the LMTRTP project, which entered construction in the first quarter of 2015.

The main plant feed conveyor.

“Fluor designed a modular diamond tailings treatment plant, from the initial concept in the pre-feasibility study through to detailed engineering in execution for Debswana,” said Russell Ayres, General Manager of Fluor’s Mining & Metals business in Asia Pacific, Europe and Africa. “Over and above the full design, Fluor was also responsible for the procurement effort (as part of the Engineering Procurement contract), as well as implementing early works on site, and later providing construction and engineering support to the client construction team.”

According to Debswana Senior Con­struction Manager Douglas Hambidge, it is imperative – in an owner construction managed model – that the model be supported by resources involved in the design of the project. “This concept was applied to the LMTRTP and the results have proved that the model with combined resources works effectively.”

The design of this standalone plant centred on a modular approach. The main process areas, such as the dense media separation (DMS), scrubbing and crushing buildings, were designed to be fully constructed from fit-for-purpose modules, thereby accelerating site construction.

Fluor applied its modularisation capabilities to design 60 process plant modules, as well as 106 conveyor and services gantry modules. The project also included the provision of 17 fully-fitted modularised e-houses from South Africa. The modularisation concept was applied in such a manner that the design of the modules was tailored specifically around the project size, location and client requirements.

Road transportable modules were created to suit local infrastructure, conditions and transport restrictions allowing for the modules to be constructed locally at a purpose-built modular yard off site. The modules were then transported by road from this ‘first of a kind’ fabrication yard in Botswana to the Letlhakane
mine site.

“With this project, Fluor has demonstrated that it is possible to align the benefits of modular construction to have a positive impact on the local community through improved HSE, higher productivity and no interface with the live plant. Modular fabrication does not mean that the assembly will necessarily be done remotely; modules can be designed and executed in-country, as we did with this project,” added Ayres.

“In terms of the module sizes and quantities, the LMTRTP is one of the first projects in Botswana to be modularised to such a scale.”

Fluor is a global engineering, procurement, fabrication, construction and maintenance company and has been present in Sub-Saharan Africa for more than 55 years. Fluor’s history in Botswana dates back to the early 2000s with the provision of technical services at the Orapa diamond mine, followed later by the successful completion of the Jwaneng Cut 8 and Morupule coal mine expansion projects.

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