13km pipeline to be constructed at Nkomati

TDS Projects Construction has been awarded the contract for the construction of a 13km tailing pipeline at Nkomati Nickel mine.

Nkomati 1
Image credit: TDS Projects Construction

Nkomati is situated 300km east of Johannesburg. It represents one of the largest nickel reserves in South Africa having estimated reserves of 408.6 million tonnes (Mt) of ore grading containing about 1.35Mt of nickel metal. The pipeline will connect to the cross valley tailings storage facility at Nkomati’s Onverwacht site.

TDS was contracted for the project by Robor Pipe Systems, with whom TDS has a long-standing working relationship as one of their preferred sub-contractors. According to TDS operations director, Willie Pieters, the two firms frequently collaborate on pipeline projects. “Due to the competitive nature of the market TDS Projects Construction and Robor decided to work together on projects where pipes were to be supplied and installed. Robor is one of the major pipe suppliers in South Africa, and choose to partner with us based on our expertise, capability and excellent safety track record,” says Pieters.

The planned pipeline will consist of a 13-kilometre-long 400mm pipe column. The highest point will reach 1 468m above sea level, and the lowest point will lie at 1 200m above sea level. The pipe column design was drawn up to be suitable for pumping slurry at a pressure of 64bar. TDS Projects Construction began construction on 16 October 2017.

According to Pieters, pipeline installations of this magnitude are not uncommon in the industry although this particular project does show some of Robor’s unique hallmarks.

“Robor has previously supplied several of these pipe columns already, however, the piping with a HDPE stub flange with a 14mm thick HDPE lining is unique to Robor,” Pieters explains. He adds that this type of piping lasts longer and, is therefore, more cost effective in the long term.

According to Pieters, TDS Projects Construction is confident in their capability to complete the project on time and to the highest levels of quality. “Very few contractors have the experience and expertise to take on an installation of this magnitude. This project proves not only TDS’s competency but also our competitiveness in the market,” he concludes.


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