Mining operations often require specialised services from outside of Namibia, particularly for complex maintenance procedures or during mine development and construction phases.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, border closures and restricted movement regulations during the state of emergency restricted specialised personnel from entering the country and performing critical services for mining operations.
What was originally considered a major challenge, has created opportunities for local personnel and service providers alike.
Earlier this year, Dundee Precious Metals Tsumeb was approaching a critical deadline for a maintenance operation on both of their Pierce Smith Converters, an essential processing unit for successful operations at the smelter. The maintenance project is an intricate process that involves removal and relining of the converters with refractory bricks, for which the workspace needs to be carefully secured to create a safe working environment.
Nation-wide and international border closures compelled Dundee Precious Metals Tsumeb to explore alternative avenues, resulting in the mobilisation of their site-based SME to complete the maintenance operation. Digital technology such as WhatsApp and cameras were used to facilitate communication between the external service provider and personnel on the ground, who guided and assisted the relining of the converters. External supervision was crucial to ensure that the SME was equipped with the appropriate know-how to successfully and safely carry out the maintenance operation.
DPMT has a reputation of applying technology and innovation at all of their operations and this innovative approach ensured that the maintenance was done on schedule, safely, and without risking or jeopardising business continuity.
Contributed by Lauren Davidson, Economist Chamber of Mines and Alina Garises, Manager Communications, Dundee Precious Metals Tsumeb