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Floating ‘gem’ wins South African steel construction award, Woodridge Packhouse also recognised

Home Engineering Engineers, Consulting Engineers & Project Management Floating ‘gem’ wins South African steel construction award, Woodridge Packhouse also recognised

THE SAISC annual steel awards judges were unanimous in their praise of overall winner – the Benguela general treatment plant mining facility, aboard the ‘Benguela Gem’, the world’s most advanced diamond recovery vessel.

Presented by the Southern African Institute for Steel Construction (SAISC), the awards showcased innovation, ingenuity and a sense of community within the steel construction sector.

The Benguela Gem is owned by Debmarine Namibia, a 50/50 joint venture between De Beers Group and the government of the Republic of Namibia.

The Benguela Gem is the product of international collaboration: designed in Norway and Poland, built in Romania and fitted out by De Beers Marine South Africa. Diamond recovery by Debmarine Namibia takes place at 90 to 150 metres below sea level. The exceptional design, fabrication and installation of the 3 000 ton diamond treatment plant on the vessel was carried out ahead of schedule by local engineers and fabricators amid Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

SAISC CEO Amanuel Gebremeskel advises: “This project stood out in a number of different ways, and presented a first in the history of the steel awards: it operates offshore and is floating rather than being stationary and anchored – a truly distinctive applicant within the Awards categories. As a sea-faring structure, it is furthermore subject to unusual engineering loads from a naval engineering perspective.

The vessel is unique in Africa, being able to carry out the entire undersea diamond dredging and treatment process.

From the vessel arriving at the end of September 2021 with an empty deck, it sailed again in December 2021 with a fully operational mine onboard.

“This project was an exceptional showcase of the use and applications of steel featuring South African design, fabrication and construction for an international client,” said Gebremeskel.

The treatment plant was nominated by designers PBA Projects and completed in collaboration with De Beers Marine and 3C Metal Belmet, Namibia and local fabricators Steel Services and Allied Industries.

Regional winners

The winner of the Eastern Cape regional category and the Agri-Industrial category was the Woodridge Packhouse. “This project presents an interesting form, clever use of natural light and a design which allows for natural ventilation – therefore saving on energy costs.
Entry details here.

The KwaZulu-Natal regional winner and winner of the Tubular Steel category was Babanango Travellers Camp. This innovative tourist accommodation is situated within the Babanango game reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal. A number of interesting technical details included reconciling complex issues regarding the use of different materials of construction and geometrical factors, to achieve the project’s architectural objective: roofing reflecting shapes used in traditional African shields.

The annual SAISC steel awards provide an opportunity for stakeholders across the industry – including engineers, designers, architects, processors, merchants and fabricators – to present their work and be honoured for their outstanding achievements. The evening – known in the steel sector as the ‘Oscars of the steel industry’ – was an elegant gala-style gathering with a ‘red carpet’ feel and a growth-related theme this year of ‘green shoots’.

Local ingenuity and commendable perseverance

Gebremeskel explains: “Even before the global pandemic, South Africa’s steel industry had gone through a period of severe challenges. The ‘green shoots’ theme is an acknowledgment of the importance of continuing to navigate through troubled times. It is also a tribute to our much-loved former CEO, the late Paolo Trinchero, who did so much for South Africa’s steel industry.

This year’s awards introduced more categories, not all of which are mentioned here.

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