Industrial progress

Glencore Merafe PSV succeeded in treating the ore to make the smeltering furnaces more energy efficient. (supplied)

Glencore Merafe PSV succeeded in treating the ore to make the smeltering furnaces more energy efficient. (supplied)

Joint Winner: Glencore Merafe PSV: Project Tswelopele
When Glencore Merafe PSV realised that one of its Rustenburg plants was using an increasing amount of energy in 2004, the company decided to investigate different technologies and to improve the plant’s energy consumption.

They called this the Tswelopele Project, after the word for “progress” in Setswana.

Glencore Merafe PSV is a producer of ferrochrome. Through pelletising and sintering chrome ore fines, which in the natural form uses huge amounts of energy, the company succeeded in treating the ore to make the smeltering furnaces more energy efficient.

The project created 100 new jobs and achieved significant savings as well as increasing the output of the plant.

By using more efficient technologies, the energy consumption of the ferrochrome furnaces at the Rustenburg plant improved from an average of 3.95 MWh/tonne of ferrochrome to 3.42 MWh/tonne of ferrochrome during just six months. This equated to a saving of 150 711MWh.

Joint Winner: ArcelorMittal
Two years ago ArcelorMittal’s Saldanha Works Plant identified energy as a critical issue for ensuring long-term sustainability.

The manager at the time, Reinet van Zyl, realised the plant was threatened with closure and that drastic changes were needed to turn things around.

The energy strategy adopted as a result looked at all aspects of energy savings potential and consisted of 15 energy projects, ranging from technology to energy optimisation, systems and ISO50001 implementation.

The biggest achievement was an operational efficiency innovation that saw the plant reduce its liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) consumption by 40% compared to the 2010 baseline, converting into a saving of R91-million.

Add to that the 2011/12 saving of R39-million, coupled with a R79-million saving on LPG consumption in the previous year and the total saving is an astonishing R170-million.

According to Reinet, the important principle was the need to look carefully at current processes, to question assumptions about how things have always been done, and to find new solutions.

Runner-up: TEMM International
Mine cooling auxiliary systems continuously circulate water and supply cold ventilation air to ensure acceptable underground working conditions.

These auxiliary systems are responsible for up to 25% of electricity consumed by the fully integrated cooling system on a mine.

A number of cost-saving simulation studies have previously been conducted on these systems.

However, due to the complex nature of the entire integrated system, the focus was on a single system in isolation.

After 30 years of intensive research and development, TEMM International developed a unique integrated system to ensure minimum energy usage for real-time optimised operational control that has been running for two years in the coal and platinum industries.

Energy efficient strategies derived from the new solution were implemented at three locations and results show that the electrical demand on the cooling systems was reduced by 40%.

This equates to 90GWh energy savings and R50-million cost savings over a one-year period and results in a payback period of five months.

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