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Africa’s growing mining sector holds infinite business opportunities for the supply industry. Quick delivery and erection time guarantees new and repeat business on the continent – the traits SBS Water Systems attributes its escalating business success, writes Laura Cornish.

Since its establishment in 1998, SBS Water Systems has developed recognition and acceptance in the municipal and rural water supply sectors as one of the liquid storage supply partners of choice. The company is recognised for its prompt service delivery and South African quality designed tanks.

As its name suggests, the company specialises in the manufacture, supply and installation of liquid storage solutions, which are quick to manufacture and deliver, easy to erect on-site (regardless of terrain) comprises of quality Zincalume that can withstand difficult weather and site conditions. As a result, very little maintenance is required on the SBS Tanks as well.

SBS Tanks are well suited to the mining sector, particularly in difficult-to-access African regions where mining project delivery is largely affected and often delayed by logistics and labourers with minimal experience in project and construction development and management. SBS Tanks cater for and overcome both of these challenges.

“We recognised the untapped mining opportunities on our doorstep and embarked on breaking into the sector in 2010. Establishing yourself in the mining industry is challenging and not something we overcame easily. But our product speaks for itself, and following the installation of our first tanks in Ghana in 2010, we have never looked back,” says Delayne Gray, MD at SBS Water Systems.

While the company has celebrated many mining installations since then, Gray still considers its Ghana project its flagship, which ultimately represents its entrance into the mining sector. “We supplied four tanks to AngloGold Ashanti in Ghana for one of its mine’s process and potable water. The contract included one 300 000 ℓ tank, two 110 000 ℓ tanks and one 50 000 ℓ reagent tank that was installed into the process plant.”

In the space of two years, SBS Water Systems has completed numerous installations across Africa, including Sierra Leone, Ghana, Malawi and Zambia and currently equates about 30% of its business to the sector (which is even higher if the average size of the tanks is taken into account) by comparison with other industry sectors.

SBS Water Systems has installed over 650 units since its establishment, boasting 100 of those tanks in 2012 alone. “Our vision is to become a complete turnkey tank supplier to mining projects, which can equate to more than 12 tanks for a single project.”

And while the company used to import its tanks, it has recently established its own manufacturing plant and is in the process of attaining its ISO 9001 accreditation. “We are extremely proud of this development and consider ourselves an international tank supplier with a proudly South African touch.” Local manufacture reduces input costs and favourably reduces lead times.

The SBS Tank

SBS Tanks can be predesigned in terms of height, volume and diameter and are not limited to storing drinking water. They also hold raw water, fire water, and can even be installed in certain areas within a process plant. “A change to the internal liner and other minor modifications ensure our tanks can be installed almost anywhere for storage of any liquid. In previous installations, for example, a tank was coated externally and internally with a polyurethane layer to protect components from cyanide splash,” Gray explains.

All tanks comprise an internal lining, meaning no water comes into contact with the steel. “We offer our clients a 10-year non-leak warranty, but believe our tanks can last in excess of 60 years.”

SBS Tanks vary from 12 kℓ, ideal for exploration, to 3.3 Mℓ, meaning they cater to the majors as well. They are simple to erect, which in turn means easy to dismantle and relocate; another mining attractive feature. “We are also flexible enough to change the tank design right through to implementation stage, which only requires minor retrofit changes,” Gray continues.

The product’s quick erection can be attributed to our build system – where all modular, light weight components are fitted together and erected from the ground up. Because no one is required to work at height, it has a significant positive impact on safety risks.

It takes no more than 15 days to erect the largest SBS Tank (3.3 Mℓ) and only about 10 people to do the job. The tanks are transported by sea in 6 and 12 m containers in segments to Africa, or by small vehicles within South Africa.

“While we actively focus on educating the industry on the numerous advantages and benefits of SBS Tanks, we acknowledge its limitations and accept that not every tanks application can be met by. In most cases, the external pipework has to be supported due to the extreme lightweight nature of the tank walls,” Gray admits.

While the company’s business future is to continuously focus on the core product range, it is constantly striving to elevate its position, service and product offering. “We are looking at introducing a range of stands, which will enable us to elevate our tanks. We are also looking at including more compliant and user-friendly attachments such as level indicators, ladders and other accessories.”

Sidebar: Projects

Project name:Bakubung Platinum Mine
Client:Wesize (Bakubung Minerals)
Engineer:TWP Projects (part of the Basil Read Group)
Tanks size:250 000 ℓ
Completed:May 2012
Location of site:Rustenburg, South Africa
 

Project name:Kibali Gold Project (Randgold Resources)
Client:DRA Minerals
Engineer:TWP Projects (part of the Basil Read Group)
Tanks size:2 tanks ­ 98 000 ℓ   and 588 000 ℓ
Progress:On-route
Location of site:Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
 

Project name:Namoya Mining (Banro Corporation)
Client:MDM Engineering
Tanks size:six tanks – 554 000ℓ;   75 000 ℓ; 1.04 Mℓ; 232 000 ℓ; 123 000 ℓ 29 000 ℓ
Progress:On-route
Location of site:Namoya, DRC
 

Project name:Maamba Colliery
Client:Maamba Collieries
Engineer:ELB Engineering
Tanks size:222 000 ℓ
Completed:March 2012
Location of site:Zambia
 

Project name:Waterpan Mine – Xstrata Coal South Africa (XCSA)
Client:XCSA and C9 Civils
Tanks size:368 000 ℓ
Completed:June 2009
Location of site:Witbank, South Africa
 

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