Dec 2017 Exxaro
state of affairs


With the handover of Phase 2 of the Grootegeluk Discard In-Pit (GDIP) backfill system to Grootegeluk Complex (GGC), a project journey of nearly seven years came to an end. The project ended in November 2017, against the mandated scope and deadline, with no fatalities and excellent safety statistics – a huge success.

Project Manager Dirk Laubscher and team committed themselves to building a discard management system that would mitigate discard management risks at GGC – a key business deliverable – as the current on-surface discard system will reach the end of its life by end-2017. The existing on-surface discard system needed to be replaced with a more flexible in-pit system with larger capacity, which can accommodate all GGC plants discard at a maximum capacity of 7 670 tons per hour. The system consists of an upper and lower backfill system, which allows GGC to either stack on both systems in emergencies (thus emptying the discard bunker quicker) or to stack according to the mine plan.

Effective discard management is critical in coal mining, not only to lessen a mine’s environmental impact through proper waste disposal, but also to ensure reduced product waste thereby increasing production.

An in-pit discard system (as opposed to an on-surface one) has many benefits, such as its ability to reduce the number of surface disposal sites and the environmental, health, safety and social problems associated with them.

“The project team achieved extraordinary milestones, despite the challenges faced,” Dirk said. “They delivered GDIP P2 in parallel with the current GG10 project, well within time and budgetary constraints. The project was completed with excellent quality of construction, no claims and reasonable savings of R76m. I’m proud of how the project team have raised the benchmark for projects not just within Exxaro, but also the project management fraternity.”

“Even after such a great achievement, Dirk - who also runs the Matla projects portfolio - has recently been tasked to lead the delivery of the new Exxaro Lakeside building to the business in 2019. I’m confident that he and his team will apply the same level of diligence and excellence as evidenced at GDIP,” said Mervin Govender, Group Manager Projects.

Critical to the continuous success of integrated systemic project implementation, is the close collaboration between the project team and the BU, to ensure a smooth handover. The BU will now ensure the proper operational management of the discard system, as per the operational procedures compiled jointly between the project team and GGC owner’s team.

“I thank everyone for a wonderful journey during the execution of GDIP P1 & P2 projects,” said Dirk. “Congratulations on an excellent project delivered to Grootegeluk mine!”

Steercom visit at the GDIP handover
GDIP PM Dirk Laubscher (centre) with
P&T Executive Head Johan Meyer (left) and
TIPP PM Martin von Wielligh (right).

GDIP team.