In less than a year, plastic pipe system solutions specialist Marley Pipe Systems has established a significant footprint in the mining industry and is now working towards providing complete turnkey piping solutions, writes Laura Cornish.

Having established itself successfully in the civil engineering and industrial sectors over a number of decades, Marley Pipe Systems (Marley) announced its intention late last year to add the mining sector to its industry portfolio.

Coupled with the completion of its first major piping project in the mining sector, the installation of a 50 km pipeline from DRDGold’s Ergo plant outside Springs to Crown the world’s largest gold tailings retreatment facility in the country, and the incorporation of a mining-specific pressure-pipe range, Marley has been making prominent marks in the industry ever since.

Today, it has grown its mining client base substantially, with a portfolio that now includes Xstrata, AngloGold Ashanti and Harmony Gold, as well as clients situated across the border including Katanga Mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“We remain constantly focused on driving a solid reputation and building confidence with the mining sector, and want to be recognised as a company of substance,” says Peter Ker-Fox, Marley infrastructure sales and marketing manager.

Marley offers a full HDPE and PVC range – unique in the piping industry – enabling it to provide fit-for-purpose solutions. The company also provides the required fittings and a large variety of valves.

Having so quickly established a significant project pipeline in the mining sector, supplying its wide range of piping products to the sector, Marley’s strategic focus for the future will be to provide turnkey innovative ideas and piping solutions to the sector.

“More and more clients are indicating a preference for single-source suppliers to provide installation services as well. While we have always offered this to our clients via a subcontractor, we are investigating the benefits for ourselves and how best to offer it to our clients, enabling us to achieve our goal of becoming a complete turnkey piping supplier,” Ker-Fox continues.

Already the mining (and industrial) sectors account for about 60% of Marley’s infrastructure business, making it a crucial business component. Considering that sectors like civil are currently repressed, it also holds a lot of promise for future growth.

“The challenge is to keep our growth momentum going without compromising on the service and quality our customers have become accustomed to. We have already achieved record sales months in May and July this year,” Ker-Fox reveals.

Noteworthy projects and accomplishments

In April this year, Marley was awarded the contract to supply 11 000 m of 450 Class 12 mPVC piping to Harmony Gold’s Free State-based Saaiplaas tailings operations. “The pipeline, which was delivered in June and is already installed, will transfer water between tailings dams,” explains Jason Tannous, Marley North West area manager.

“We are particularly proud of this project, and the subsequent relationship we have established with Harmony Gold. Various business units within the Harmony stable visited our Nigel manufacturing facility to perform plant audits and ensure we complied with their stringent quality and service requirements. This not only indicated the client’s confidence, but showcases the levels of quality that suppliers must meet to secure work with Harmony,” Ker-Fox notes.

Piping is a vital component in tailings dam management and recovery operations, and as such, Marley has also established a secure relationship with Fraser Alexander, who specialises in tailings dam projects.

“We have secured more than 10 different jobs over the past year with the company,” Tannous notes.

One of Marley’s most prestigious projects to date (awarded in May 2012) is the supply of 4 km of piping for local engineering firm Consulmet, who designed a 180 tph diamond processing plant for Octea Mining’s (formerly Koidu Holdings) Koidu kimberlite project in Sierra Leone.

“What makes this project so momentous for Marley is that in addition to the piping supply contract, we also supplied the client with a 315 and 630 butt welding machine, which is used for piping installation. We also sent a Marley employee to site for eight weeks to train the client on how to use the machines,” Tannous describes.

In addition, Marley also supplied all the fabricated fittings and piping for the Koidu plant itself.

In July 2012, Marley also completed the supply and delivery of 8 km of piping to Richards Bay Minerals, which including specialised stubs and flanges.

“We had to supply pipes of 24 m in length, making logistics a challenge. For Marley to establish a recognised brand, we must ensure we can meet client requests and specs, even if it requires incurring additional costs or challenges.”

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