Quarrymen and miners of materials used in the construction of roads have a new set of specification to be followed in order to supply national and provincial roads agencies as well as all metros and municipalities.

Surface mining industry association, ASPASA, has worked tirelessly with the Committee of Transport Officials (COTO) and role-players to hammer-out standards for different types of materials to be used on our roads. Crushed aggregates and sand are key components in the manufacture of this type of infrastructure and the new COTO specifications effectively replaces the previous, widely known COLTO specification.

Industry veteran and the motivating force behind ASPASA’s submission to COTO, Barry Pearce, who heads up ASPASA’s technical committee, says the new specifications have brought the industry together like never before and led to close cooperation between the roads agencies, engineers, materials suppliers and road contractors. Material suppliers will now have a two years trial period to implement, test, debate and refine the specifications before final acceptance.

Simple implementation

“Now all that remains is for our ASPASA members to read the specification in its entirety, especially chapter 4 which deals directly with the supply of materials,” Pearce said. He explained that the move from the COLTO to COTO specifications also comes with a change in sieve sizes from imperial to metric ISO sizes. That means quarries will need to make minor changes or possibly set about changing worn grizzlies and screens to match the relevant COTO sizes so as to conform to the new specification.

“The specifications also pays closer attention to the testing and acceptance of materials where they are mined and upon delivery and usage.” According to Pearce, ASPASA has long been of the opinion that acceptance needs to be conducted at the source of the material and before any further processing such as the addition of cement or binders take place.

“For now, this method of acceptance is required for materials sourced from approved borrow pits and requires engineers to test and accept crushed and stockpiled material at the borrow pit before delivery to site and further processing by the contractor. Our technical committee, however, suggests the same should apply to existing quarries with some minor adjustments where compliance with existing legislation is already in place such as HSE requirements. If this approach of approval of material is adopted, I think the COTO specification will be as near to ‘perfect’ as we can get it right now,” explained Pearce.

Exclusion clauses

Pearce added that onsite acceptance testing at the quarries will leapfrog one of the biggest hurdles in the supply of materials, namely exclusion clauses. These are used by materials suppliers as a measure of protection to ensure slight variances in quality of materials as specified are accounted for and can be excluded from the overarching specification as well as protection from claims where the material has been further processed on site by the contractor. In other words, a more clear differentiation in where the material responsibility is passed to the contractor and the supplier is no longer responsible.

Nonetheless, despite not being a requirement of the new COTO specifications, these and other sticking points should be ironed-out by the supplier and the engineers, road builders and transport agencies before any project is started. ASPASA members are always encouraged to ensure the contractual work of specifying, onsite and laboratory testing, processes of delivery and onsite acceptance methods are agreed upon upfront and are legally documented to prevent issues arising into the future.

ASPASA members already have all the legal and regulatory compliances in place, so it also makes sense for agencies and specifiers to make use of the association’s members where appropriate. Provided they understand and implement the requirements of COTO then any ASPASA member should be able to supply any transport agency without problems.

“ASPASA and our technical committees will continue to work with the agencies, Road Pavement Forum, Southern African Bitumen Association and other role-players to ensure COTO specifications are upheld and that our members are well-versed in the supply of in-spec materials. We will also continue to highlight any issues that may arise in the two-year implementation period,” Pearce concluded.

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