Exxaro’s Hillendale Plant
A national road is being closed and bridges removed to make way for the transit of super-heavy loads, a massive operation that would not be out of place on the TV show, Mega Moves. It will, in fact, be the biggest, heaviest, most complicated industrial relocation in South African history.
Mining giant Exxaro is moving its mineral sands processing plant at Hillendale to Fairbreeze 32 kilometres away near the town of Mtunzini because the ore body in the vicinity of the plant’s current location has been mined out and it has to be moved closer to resources that will be mined in future.
Murray & Roberts Projects has been involved in the ambitious plan to move the plant almost since inception, undertaking the pre-feasibility and feasibility studies and then, in the past year, engineering the big move. In 2012 a Murray & Roberts Projects team was formed to undertake the detail design. This involved breaking the very large, very complex Hillendale plant into large components which will be dismantled and trucked – in loads of up to 800 tonnes at a time – to Fairbreeze.
Dividing up the plant was done by 3D laser scans of the entire structure which were then transferred to CAD drawings. In total more than 25 000 design hours were spent on the project, the work including a detailed logistics plan, plant layout and engineering and a completely new electrical and instrumentation design.
The actual relocation will entail the temporary removal of seven bridges on the N2 (and then replacing them after the enormous loads have passed through). Seven high-voltage Eskom lines will be removed and relocated and some two kilometres of bypasses will have to be built. The route taken during the relocation exercise will cross rivers which will entail propping a large multi-span bridge by means of a sunk barge.
Murray & Roberts Projects Managing Director Steve Harrison says the successful engineering of the Hillendale/Fairbreeze relocation demonstrates his company’s ability to win and deliver complex work outside of the current power programme portfolio. “The fact that the client has entrusted us with the engineering phase shows the merit of being involved from an early stage,” Harrison says adding that Murray & Roberts Projects is now well positioned to undertake the implementation phase.
The N2 highway in northern KwaZulu Natal will be shut down for a whole week early in 2014. Bridges and power lines will be torn down and bypasses built – not because of a natural disaster but to facilitate the relocation of a large industrial plant.