Sunday, March 7, 2021

Local company comes to the rescue at BCL Mine

ZISMO Engineering’s successful rebuilding of BCL Mine’s High Voltage Motor (HVM) within 10 months underscores the sector’s vast potential of fast tracking Botswana’s economic diversification beyond the traditional revenue earners like mining, beef and tourism, the Managing Director, Justice Moilwa, has said.

Moilwa, an MSc Electric Engineer, academic as well as passionate innovator, said the complete refurbishment of the 1 700 (kilowatt) kW 3 300 (Volts) V slip ring HVM powering BCL Mine’s Ball Mill Primary Crusher with more reliance on local equipment, resources and skills, a first in the country’s electrical engineering history, back tests how the Eurocentric 15th to 17th Industrial Revolution laid the foundation for robust financial returns.

Repairs on the US General Electric Company (GEC) manufactured 12-ton HVM valued at P2 million began when it became defective in late 2012, almost 40 years down the line after its installation in 1972. The then BCL Limited in Selebi Phikwe began its operations in August 1956 with a meeting arranged by Minerals Separation Limited Chairman, John Buchanan, between Bangwato Regent Tshekedi Khama and Roan Selection Trust (RST) Chairman, Sir Ronald Prain.

“We don’t need to go far in dispelling asymmetric information on economic diversification when we have engineering marvels like the HVM successful refurbishment, as a living testimony,” said Moilwa when testing Botswana’s first ever rebuilt HVM in Gaborone last week. “When we established ZISMO in March 2002, the biggest challenges involved proving our expertise to the then industry’s ‘doubting Thomases, such as Botswana Power Corporation and a whole lot of other Mining Houses. In a way our prospective clients were right to be skeptical, given our fledgling status, with little or no technical equipment, resources or skilled manpower.”

He called on Batswana to avoid copycatting and utilize the country’s pool of qualified professionals and engineering experts to come up with innovative strategies through projects that can turn the economy around, benchmarking on the Industrial Revolution. The establishment of ZISMO Engineering as a wholly citizen-owned entity was to increase the local footprint providing competence against South African or other expatriate counterparts. In addition to innovativeness, the staff complement of 100 have shown commitment and dedication, even when the technical odds were against them.

According to ZISMO Workshop Manager, Arnold Boitshwarelo, the HVM success story provided an opportunity for investing funds of over P1 million to train Batswana, procure testing equipment and capacity building. All the major repairs, with the exception of highly complex tasks, such as rotor balancing, shaft manufacturing and metal bearings, ranging from stripping to the final testing, before delivery to the customer which will be in early July, were performed in-house.

“The Company has successfully assisted the Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) to come up with standards guidelines for manufacturers of transport,” said Eddie Mahachi, ZISMO Transformer Manager. “ZISMO is also compliant with the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) for international standardization and benchmarking. We advise customers to buy the more costly high efficiency motors because of their considerable energy saving, given the current national grid power deficiencies.”

To spread its sub-Saharan Africa footprint, ZISMO Engineering established a Zambian operation in 2010 and is involved mainly in rural electrification projects. Despite the skills and other logistical challenges, the company has completed huge projects on time and is moving forward with a healthy bottom line.

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