RopeCon on the move at Booysendal

A RopeCon conveying system from Doppelmayr is now operating at Northam Platinum’s Booysendal operation in South Africa to facilitate an expansion project
RopeCon on the move at Booysendal RopeCon on the move at Booysendal RopeCon on the move at Booysendal RopeCon on the move at Booysendal RopeCon on the move at Booysendal

Every hour, at least 909t of material will be transported over a distance of 4.8km through hilly terrain

Staff reporter

The RopeCon system is transporting platinum ore from Booysendal South to the existing processing plant.

The terrain between the new mining areas to the north of the Booysendal concession and the existing processing plant is challenging in terms of topography. In a straight line, a distance of approximately 4.8km and a difference in elevation of 530m must be covered. For the expansion of the Booysendal mine, a cost-effective, reliable and safe means of transport was required, and Booysendal Platinum opted for a RopeCon system.

RopeCon is a technology developed by the ropeway manufacturer Doppelmayr. According to the company, the system offers the advantages of a ropeway and combines them with the properties of a conventional belt conveyor. It consists of a flat belt with corrugated side walls. Just as on conventional belt conveyors, the belt performs the haulage function. It is driven and deflected by a drum in the head or tail station and fixed to axles arranged at regular intervals to carry it. The axles are fitted with plastic running wheels that run on fixed anchored track ropes and guide the belt. The track ropes are elevated off the ground on tower structures.

The material mined at Booysendal South is loaded onto the RopeCon belt via a silo and two chutes. Near the processing plant, the RopeCon is linked to the existing conveying equipment. A switch chute allows for the material either to be transferred directly onto a feeder conveyor to take it to the processing plant, or to be discharged onto a stockpile via a second, smaller RopeCon, thus creating a temporary puffer.

As RopeCon is guided over towers, the only space required on the ground is for these structures, which, in the case of Booysendal, amount to no more than 12.
Construction of the system commenced in January 2018. Since December 20, 2018, the installation has been transporting approximately 20,000t of platinum ore per day.

As part of an additional expansion programme, Booysendal awarded to Doppelmayr the contract for a second RopeCon, which will connect with the first system and enable transport from another mining area north of the concession. The second system is designed to transport 400t per hour over 2.8km and a difference in elevation of -160m. It is due to start operating in early 2021.