Project Case Study

Integrated Hydro Mining Service at Free State South 5 (FSS 5).

INTASOL Tailings is a leader in the international tailings industry. This is borne out of its management of operations such as the integrated hydro mining operation in the town of Welkom in the Free State province of South Africa.

We are hydro mining the 100-hectare Free State South 5 (FSS 5) tailings dam and operating and maintaining the pump station that connects the dam with the processing plant. Setting ourselves apart as a front-runner, we provide the full maintenance of the pump station that serves this hydro-mining project. The maintenance of pump stations is typically undertaken by the mines themselves.

INTASOL Tailings monitors the pump station digitally – another industry first. This gives us instant and continuous access to pump station data. Fitters and millwrights are permanently on site to perform both unscheduled and planned maintenance. The mine thus benefits from 24-hour access.

Being in charge of the pump station means we are also responsible for the maintenance of the 15 km slurry transfer line that runs from the pump station to the processing plant, as well as the 7 km water supply line extending from the return water dam to the tailings dam. The process necessitates a close working relationship with plant management which has resulted in INTASOL Tailings becoming an integral part of the mining team.

This project serves as a blueprint for managing a hydro mining operation as an integrated system and it goes a long way in helping us meet our daily production targets.

“I am gaining very good experience on this dam. I can fix the line, operate the gun, check the pump operations and monitor how the slurry goes to the mine. I can see myself going forward; I have been waiting for this for a long time.”

Vusumzi Nkombi

The operation

Intasol ensures it remains at the cutting edge of hydro mining by rigorously adhering to standards during operations at FSS 5.

We reached target production of 314 000 tons per month within 30 days of starting up, far exceeding the initial ramp-up production target of 180 000 tons. The team had this good start thanks to thorough planning and intensive staff training during the commissioning phase.

Our team continues to plan ahead in all day-to-day activities, diligently making gun lines and cutting lines to ensure hydro mining occurs at the correct slope angles. They are also dedicated to laying out pipes to support nightshift functions and taking care of other control measures on the dam.

Despite extreme weather conditions, a major challenge in the area, our team continues in high spirits trained as they are in our methodical operational approach. Team members are determined to see the operation through its expected nine year lifespan.

The FSS 5 hydro mining operation contributes to the welfare of the local community. It provides highly valued job opportunities to the inhabitants of Welkom, some of whom had been unemployed for long periods.

“I learnt how to operate a gun for the first time at Intasol. I enjoy learning how to do everything. We go for refresher courses at the plant’s computer centre every year. It is nice to keep on learning. I won’t struggle to get a job anywhere. I see a bright future for us at Intasol because management is good and they plan well. I want to help this company to create more jobs for others.”  Tshepo Giotlo