Read time: 3 minutes

Spanish tech firm targets Africa’s mines following Spain’s R35bn investment

By , Portals editor
Africa , South Africa , 24 Jan 2023

Roll out of collision avoidance technology to address South African health and safety regulations within the local mining sector.

October 2022 - South African president Cyril Ramaphosa and Spanish President Pedro Sánchez signed a MoU on cooperation in the field of Industry 4.0.
October 2022 - South African president Cyril Ramaphosa and Spanish President Pedro Sánchez signed a MoU on cooperation in the field of Industry 4.0.

Spanish technology company TORSA has launched its pan-African business hub in South Africa to roll out advanced collision avoidance technology and bolster safety at mining operations, in line with an industry 4.0-focused deal struck between South Africa and the European nation in 2022.

The company said that in October 2022 South African president Cyril Ramaphosa and Spanish President Pedro Sánchez signed a MoU on cooperation in the field of Industry 4.0.

President Sánchez announced that Spain will make approximately R35-billion available over the next five years to support the participation of Spanish companies’ projects in South Africa and beyond.

Gabino de Diego, Director of Business Development at TORSA, said the investment will be assigned on a case-by-case basis. “Unfortunately, we don´t have details of what other projects have been funded, but we can assure you that mining is considered strategic, since, for example, we are supporting environmental causes like the deployment of electricity which relays heavily on the extraction of metals like copper. An example of this commitment is the strong support we have received from the Spanish Embassy and the ICEX (External Commerce Institute) when setting up our branch, which will become our business hub for the sub-Saharan African. Our team of engineers will support sales and R&D activities from our office in Johannesburg.”

Mine health and safety

According to TORSA most accidents on mines involve heavy equipment, vehicles and workers. This prompted the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to bring into law the Chapter 8 clauses of the Mine Health and Safety Act Regulations relating to Level 9 vehicle intervention for collision avoidance in trackless mobile machinery, both surface and underground.

Under this law, mobile machines must be fitted with technologies that automatically detect the presence of any pedestrian or other machine within its vicinity. In the event where no action is taken to prevent potential collision, further means shall be provided for the mobile machine to return to a safe speed after the brakes are automatically applied.

De Diego did not mention statistics but said TORSA takes part in a monthly multi-disciplinary meeting organised by the South African Mineral Council, during which experts discuss the general situation of the mining industry in South Africa and report on accidents.

“We also participate in other forums and discussions panels organised by the EMESRT and ICMM,” he added. EMESRT (Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table) is a global initiative involving international mining companies, and the ICMM is an industry-driven organisation, the International Council on Mining and Metals.

TORSA said its solutions, which includes a High Precision Collision Avoidance System with Lidar3D and GPS technology, offers centimetre precision.

De Diego said, “Products like the vibration monitor help the mines in productivity since they can control the flow of traffic and the status of the tracks, so the benefit of the solution is shared by many teams in the mine, further helping with the adoption of the technology.”

TORSA provides training on all its products and has established an academy to tailor training depending on the level of use and the involvement with the system.

“For example, when talking about the collision avoidance system, training will not be the same for the operator in the vehicle (that will interact with the system using the embarked display) than it is for the people in the dispatch room, where they will be interacting with the system using the cloud-based platform. Our engineers will cluster the users of the system and address each need independently, providing the correct amount of training so the users extract the maximum out of our system. Training will also be provided in levels: for example, they will be operators that will only act as users, but there will be operators that will act as trainers for other operators in the use of the system. Obviously, the training provided to the latter will not be the same as the training provided to the former,” de Diego added.

Global expansion

The company noted that the opening of its local office and market presence is timely, ahead of the upcoming Mining Indaba taking place in Cape Town from 6-9 February 2023. 

"The launch of TORSA’s office in Johannesburg is another step in our goal of taking our technology to all the main mining markets in the world, particularly Africa,” said de Diego. “South Africa is a very interesting market, not only because of its mining potential, but also because of its strategic role within the African continent, as well as its current commitment to apply technologies and procedures focused on increasing safety and productivity in mining operations.”

De Diego said the company has also set its sights set on the Copperbelt region and other important markets including Botswana, Mozambique and Morocco for future African expansion.

Eskom crisis

De Diego said the company does not believe the current power supply and Eskom crisis in South Africa will have an adverse effect on its solutions.

“We develop products that are designed to be very effective with power consumption since they will be embarked in vehicles and connected to their batteries. Additionally, our cloud platform is distributed so this will, hopefully, not be affected by the temporary situation in the energy market in South Africa.”

Daily newsletter