Situated 80 km from Musina (formerly Messina) in the Limpopo Province, the Venetia diamond mine, which opened in 1992, is De Beers Consolidated Mines’ flagship operation. The mine is South Africa’s largest diamond producer, with an output of approximately 4Mct of diamond.De Beers is now in the process of developing an underground mining operation at its Venetia mine as it is approaching the depth limit of open-pit operations. The Venetia Underground Project (VUP), aimed at extending the life cycle of the mine by some 25 years, consists of sinking a service, production and decline shaft; developing the required underground infrastructure in order to mine the K01 and K02 ore bodies; and surface infrastructure including offices, lamp room, control room, change houses, refrigeration plant, bulk air cooler, ventilation fans and winder houses. Leading project delivery company WorleyParsons has been involved in the VUP since feasibility stage and was commissioned to execute the detailed engineering design for both the surface and underground infrastructure for the new underground mine. In 2016, WorleyParsons was awarded the engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) contract for the VUP. Johan Swart, Commercial Manager at WorleyParsons, explains that one of the mine’s critical health and safety regulations is to assess the fitness of individuals that have to work in the mine’s harsh underground conditions. “To ensure a person is fit enough to handle these conditions, they must undergo strict testing which involves a heat tolerance test as well as various functional fitness tests. The heat tolerance test is performed in a chamber that mimics the heated underground conditions. This requires the construction of a building which will house the heat testing chamber as well as various functional testing rooms; together these form the heat tolerance testing (HTTS) building,” says Swart.
He adds that the HTTS building consists of a reinforced foundation that supports the bricked structure, ring beam and timber roof trusses. It is divided into two sections, the HTTS chamber and equipment room, and functional assessment and office areas. The HTTS chamber requires precise construction within stringent tolerances in order to assure the chamber will function efficiently.As a company that aligns its business operations with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as set out by the UN that provide a vision of a more sustainable future for governments, businesses, civil society, communities and individuals, De Beers values the surrounding community and is invested in ensuring development within the community. The HTTS project was identified as an opportunity to collaborate with a local contractor as part of its SDGs as the project requires a broad range of skill development. Skill development is essential to ensure the community in the surrounding areas have a sustainable future for the families and future generations. Following a full and fair enquiry process conducted by WorleyParsons in which various contractors submitted their bids for the scope of work, the contract was awarded to Ravhuyani Construction and Projects on 29 June 2018. The project entails a full construction and management team that will be required to deliver a timely constructed building within budget. Ravhuyani Construction and Projects will be fulfilling all the construction work to erect the building together with the services and landscaping in the area. As part of the project, the contractor will be required to compile a construction schedule, manage subcontractors, develop health, safety, quality and environmental plans, and ensure the project is completed, adhering to all standards within the allocated time, supported by WorleyParsons Construction Manager Neels Wolmarans and his team. Swart says that the WorleyParsons team will work hand in hand with the local contractor in order to develop and transfer skills to the local community.