Mopani Synclinorium Shaft reaches 1000 metres deep

Mopani Copper Mines Plc has achieved another milestone in the construction of its new Synclinorium Shaft at Nkana, which has now reached a depth of 1000 metres.

A total of 277 metres now remain for the shaft to reach its set completion depth of 1,277 metres.

Danny Callow, Mopani Chief Executive Officer, commended the team for ensuring the project remained on course. Commenting on the announcement he said:

“I’m delighted with this achievement. The team has done a tremendous job. I am encouraged that the project is on target both in terms of time and budget.

Long term projects like this Synclinorium Shaft project can be unpredictable for various reasons, but I’m pleased that we have managed to keep the budget in check.

I have no doubt that the team working on the project will ensure that the remaining part of the project is delivered both on time and within budget come the second quarter of 2015, in readiness for commencement of ore hoisting.”

The Synclinorium Shaft is designed to extend the lifespan of Nkana mine by a further 25-30 years – beyond the current expected depletion dates of the existing reserves at Mindola North, SOB (South Ore Body) and Central shafts of 2015, 2017 and 2018, espectively.

This will secure around 3,000 jobs, which would otherwise have been lost as a result of the closure of some mines beginning in 2015. The project has already created about 500 jobs at construction stage.

Mr Callow explained that apart from securing the existing jobs, the new Shaft will provide Mopani with access to some 115 million tonnes of ore at a grade of 1.9 percent copper and 0.09 percent cobalt.

The Synclinorium Shaft, which is being sunk byMurray & Roberts Cementation Zambia, involvesdrilling and blasting and using mesh and bolts as temporary support and concrete lining as permanent support, while the vent shaft was sunk by drilling and blasting up to 50 metres deep and will further be sunk by raise boring beyond 50 metres.

Mr Callow hailed the project team for upholding high safety standards, adding:

“Shaft sinking is a highly technical undertaking and to maintain such a good safety record with zero fatalities is a great achievement. For us, safety is the number one priority and therefore, I would like to commend the project team for establishing a safe working environment for all employees. I am determined to ensure that this remains the case up to the very end of the project.”

As one of the biggest construction projects currently underway in Zambia, the Synclinorium Shaft project involves construction of a 7m diameter main shaft and a 6m diameter ventilation shaft to depths of 1277 metres and 1167 metres respectively.

 

Mines, Energy and Water Development Minister Christopher Yaluma during his recent tour of the Synclinorium Shaft described it as a “huge investment that would benefit the country.”

“We are quite pleased that what we thought was impossible is being proved to be possible through the sinking the Synclinorium Shaft. US$323 million is not an insignificant amount of money and this is not just talk, as we can see it on the ground,” Mr Yaluma commented in August 2013.

Mr Yaluma added “This is a huge investment for Zambia which would bring enormous benefits to the country’s economy through increased copper production, employment and government revenue. I’m thrilled about this project.”

Jacek Dabrowski, Project Manager for the Synclinorium Shaft Complex, explained that safety would be guaranteed throughout the lifespan of the Nkana mine’s life-prolonging Synclinorium Shaft, following the sinking of a parallel Ventilation Shaft.

“The Ventilation Shaft lies adjacent to the main shaft and will be sunk to the depth of 1167m. It will serve as a lifeline for the main shaft as it will supply fresh, cooled air to working areas underground, thereby providing a safe and secure working environment for the employees.

“To achieve this, we will equip the shaft with state-of-the-art ventilation equipment that conforms to internationally-recognised environmental and health standards,” Mr Dabrowski said.