Working on a new railroad

Working on a new railroad

Whether you support the road versus rail debate or believe in intermodal transportation, one thing is certain … transport is a vital part of any economy and the export of minerals is an integral part of our country’s financial well-being.

To help with the latter, GIBB, a consulting engineering firm, has been appointed as the engineering and construction monitoring contractor to build a 20 km railway siding for Kalagadi Manganese, a black economic-empowerment company.

The new low-speed track section will connect to the main manganese corridor from Hotazel, in the Northern Cape, to Port Elizabeth and will serve the Kalagadi mine to export sinter through the Port of Coega in the Eastern Cape. The railway line will also be used to import coking coal (coke) for the beneficiation process (which is used to separate ore into minerals and gangue – a commercially worthless material).

Wimpie Oosthuizen, technical executive: rail at GIBB, explains: “The railway siding consists of an electrified and signalled running line with a balloon configuration of 12 km. Yard 1 consist of 3,4 km of electrified lines and yard 2 has 4,1 km of un-electrified lines.”

He adds: “The yard layout consists of a balloon for the rapid loading of the sinter product, a linear yard for the tippler off-loading of coke, a yard for shunting movements and a locomotive shed for light maintenance.”

Oosthuizen points out that one of the major challenges on the project was to find suitable construction material for the bulk earthworks (fills, pavement layer works and service road). “It was solved by importing calcrete material from the neighbouring mine and utilising discarded rock material from the mining activities,” he explains.

With that innovative use of available discarded material construction got underway, and is scheduled for completion during this quarter – enabling increased exportation of sinter and contributing to the economic growth of South Africa.

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