Mines rely on Babcock for uninterrupted power supply

Largest Volvo Penta-powered synchronised power generator unit in South Africa installed by Babcock

Electricity supply for three mining sites, Outcrop, Deep E (DE) and Ngwabe, is now backed up by a series of synchronised Volvo Penta-powered generators to maintain operations when grid power supply is interrupted.

Mines rely on Babcock for uninterrupted power supply

Ngwabe is the largest of the three sites consisting of 8 x 700 kVA generators feeding a 400 V to 11 kV step-up transformer which in turn supplies electricity to the site. The Babcock-designed and built industrial power generators have been installed at all three mines which are underground, deep level, narrow seam operations that utilise continuous drill and blast mining techniques to extract anthracite ore.

Critical for ensuring sufficient ventilation underground, fans supplying fresh air to below-surface mining activities cannot be interrupted for any period of time, and in the event of a power failure, the synchronised generator units using 16 litre Volvo Penta diesel engines combined with 630 kVA and 700 kVA Engga alternators will provide back-up power. The power generators respond well to massive impact loads and are capable of generating sufficient power for the entire mine’s power needs, initially firing at full capacity to deal with the massive impact load, and switching off units as demand stabilises.

Managing Director of Babcock’s Industrial business, Deon Verreyne, says that Ngwabe is the first South African mining operation to utilise eight Volvo Penta-powered synchronised power generators, and that Babcock is also providing back-up and support services to the mines. “The units are remotely monitored using a telemetry system that facilitates the predictive maintenance of the generators, and assists with the early detection of faults, as well as compiling detailed reports as required by the mine,” says Verreyne.  

Babcock’s telemetry solutions make use of locally developed ‘Machine to Machine’ (M2M) remote platforms designed to provide proactive status and possible failure visibility of engines and generators deployed in the field, as well as make critical generator and engine data available within moments of an event. “Babcock’s telemetry system will link all 16 of ZAC’s generator units to a central network that is broadcast to anyone with the application on their computer or mobile device. ZAC can remotely diagnose the generators’ status and performance without physically needing to go to the mine,” says Verreyne.

Owned by Menar, a mining resources investment company, ZAC is South Africa’s sole producer and exporter of prime anthracite coal. Menar’s relationship with Babcock began in 2017 when the mining enterprise purchased Volvo Construction Equipment supplied by Babcock, including articulated haulers, crawler excavators and wheel loaders, for ZAC’s discard processing plant in KwaZulu-Natal.

“Babcock proved we can be trusted to deliver by providing a flexible equipment package that ideally suited ZAC’s unique needs,” comments Verreyne. “The successful partnership with Babcock’s construction equipment business paved the way for establishing a relationship between ZAC and our Industrial business for the generators.”

Volvo Penta offers world-leading diesel technology and efficient, powerful engines that optimise functionality and operations. This benefits customers in terms of uptime, economy, flexibility and emission compliance. The Volvo Penta engines supplied by Babcock range from 5 litre 4 cylinder, to 16 litre 6 cylinder fixed and variable speed, producing 75 to 700 kVA.


Babcock’s Industrial business is a trusted supplier of customised standby power generation solutions that meet prime or back-up requirements for industries ranging from large industrial and mining to commercial applications. The company’s generator solutions are flexible and cost-effective and specifically designed to meet individual customer requirements with an expert team of engineers providing both innovative solutions and aftermarket support. Babcock designs, manufactures and assembles mobile and static power generator units and can assist customers in monitoring the systems, at the same time addressing performance concerns and helping to streamline and improve business operations.


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