Powering African mines amidst a local energy crisis

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A R31-million, fully-integrated 7 500 kVA standby power solution is currently being installed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), following the successful design, assembly and testing of the modular plant by Johannesburg-based Amalgamated Power Solutions (APS) – a market leader electrical and mechanical engineering solutions.

APS specialises in the provision of comprehensive turnkey power generation solutions for industries across Sub-Saharan Africa. The company’s flagship achievement is the completion of the Kinsenda Copper Mine standby power generation solution, which is capable of providing a reliable alternative power source in the event of an outage within just 20 seconds – a world-class response time.

According to APS technical director, Andrew Strömbeck, this cradle-to-grave solution boasts unrivalled technical efficiency on a global scale, and will enable the mine to run its ore processing plant at full capacity without experiencing any stoppages whatsoever, regardless of power outages.

“Ore processing plants run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Just 30 seconds of stoppage can result in up to two days of costly downtime. APS has therefore provided the client with the peace of mind that, even in the event of power failure, no downtime will be experienced, thanks to a highly sophisticated solution that few companies in the world are able to match,” Strömbeck explains.

Strömbeckadds that the Kinsenda Copper Mine standby power generation solution is comprised of three fully integrated 2 500 kVA diesel generator sets(gensets) manufactured by Cummins – a global leader in the manufacture, sales and servicing of diesel engines and related technology.

“Part of our success lies in the fact that we are flexible with component suppliers to ensure that we provide turnkey solutions to our clients. It is, however, important to be entirely aligned with certain original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to ensure the highest standards of quality, reliability and effective after-sales service, and this is certainly the case with Cummins,” he continues.

In addition to the Cummins gensets, which weigh 32 tons each, the standby solution also consists of three 9 000-litre diesel tanks that were transported in 12-metre-highcube containers in nine trucks, which successfully reached their final destination in the Katanga province of the DRC recently.

Although the challenge of unpredictable and unreliable power supply in the African mining sector is further compounded by bureaucratic business regulations, APS managing director Rob Pellizzer indicates that the company assists its customers in overcoming these lengthy and costly issues through its value-added holistic solutions offering.

“Many African countries require foreigners who have been in the country for more than 21 days to obtain a work permit, which makes it challenging for companies to enter the market effectively. APS experts assemble and test all components at our Johannesburg facility, before completing relevant paperwork to ensure that they can reassemble equipment onsite anywhere in Africa,” he says.

Pellizzer believes that this service delivery excellence places APS ahead of the competition. “The backup power generator at Kinsenda Copper Mine will be fully operational within weeks. Few competitors are able to boast this combination of high-quality solutions that are available in quick turnaround times, and this bodes well for our future business dealings.”

APS was established in early 2013 by Strömbeck, who boasts over 45 years of industry experience. “We are a streamlined operation, with a team of 36 factory workers and engineers that undertake all component assembly and mechanical engineering at the company’s 1 600 m2 under-roof facility.

Although the company is new, many employees have vast experience working alongside each other in the corporate environment. This has enabled us to obtain such a large contract despite our generally small footprint,” he states.

APS sales manager Kirsten Knox is confident that the company’s early success looks set to continue in the foreseeable future. “Part of our business strategy has been to target larger projects such as the Kinsenda Copper Mine. As investment in Africa continues to become more lucrative, while inconsistent power supply remains a real threat, APS holds the potential for measurable growth through its comprehensive and turnkey backup power generation offering.”

Knox believes that potential for growth extends across numerous sectors, including: mining; industrial; retail; healthcare; and food and beverage industries. “We have been awarded a second high-profile mining contract in Ghana, having been selected ahead of multinationals and global competitors. I believe this will serve as a catalyst for growth across other sectors too.”

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Issue 39