Company automating Gabon manganese mine

Company automating Gabon manganese mine


Pretoria-based automation company Iritron is involved in an expansion project at a manganese mine in Gabon. Owner Comilog is the world’s second largest high-grade manganese producer, says Iritron CEO Alwyn Rautenbach.

Adhering to system architecture, Iritron is supplying control systems, motor control centres and network panels that will enable the mining operation to efficiently extract and grade manganese ore in accordance with its specifications.

“Advanced process control is giving Iritron an edge in the differentiation of manganese products, and multiple grades can come out of the same seam.”

The Comilog expansion project involves working closely with process designers and ensuring that the control philosophy is executed correctly to implement functional designspecifications, he explains.

Iritron won its first tender from Hatch for the Comilog mine 18 months ago and has successfully delivered projects on time and within budget, securing larger projects late last year.

“With the difficulties we are having in sourcing equipment, owing to the global semiconductor shortage, we believe it will take a while longer before these projects are finalised. During this time, we hope to secure further work from this client.

“Iritron has more than 20 years’ experience in the manganese mining market, starting in South Africa, and expanded into the rest of Africa a couple of years ago, however it is a tough market to get into,” says Rautenbach.

He believes it is this experience and technical expertise that explains the company being awarded the Comilog project.

Iritron is also driven by quality standards and has ISO 9001:2015 quality management system accreditation and is considerate of the wellbeing of the environment and its staff, customers and contractors, boasting ISO 14001: 2015 and ISO 45001:2018 accreditation.

“While our professionalism and quality compliance allow us to execute faceted projects successfully, nothing beats word of mouth,” states Rautenbach.

Iriton’s end product is its best publicity, says Iritron businessdevelopment manager Pedro Da Silva.

“We always engineer solutions that contribute to the effectiveness of mining operations according to the client’s specifications. Return on investment needs to be justified, and that is where Iritron excels.”

Challenges vary from project to project and country to country, adds Rautenbach.

But where challenges are experienced, the company takes a proactive approach and ensures clients are always informed of delays, which Iritron mitigates as best as it can, says Da Silva.

For example, to address the current component shortages Iritron has resorted to other brands that are fully compliant to technical and operational requirements to ensure that projects are completed and commissioned on schedule.