Exacting industrial gearbox requirements met for DRC mine

October 2021 News

SEW-EURODRIVE South Africa found its well-established capabilities and extensive experience tested to the full, when it was contracted by a new copper mine in the DRC to supply conveyer drives capable of operating in an extremely hot and humid environment where heavy downpours of rain are also common.

“One of the key considerations was to ensure sufficient cooling,” explains Andreas Meid, head of department, Engineering. “Fortunately, our upgraded X.e-Series gearbox, together with the different cooling fans that we have available, were up to the task.”

The high humidity in the DRC also meant the standard breather used in the typical southern African environment, for example, was unsuitable. “If we had used a standard breather, where the main consideration is keeping dust out of the gearbox, there would have been a risk of getting moisture inside the unit and reducing the life of the oil and components,” adds Meid. “Our solution was a Des-Case breather that removes the moisture from the air and prevents it from entering the gearbox.”

SEW-EURODRIVE’S journey with the DRC mine began in 2018, when it was contracted to provide gearbox units for the underground conveyors bringing the ore out of the mine. There were subsequent orders for processing plant conveyors and above-ground conveyors.

“We offered what we call a power pack, which comprises a gearbox, a motor and high-speed, low-speed couplings, all mounted on a common base plate,” explains Meid. “We imported the gearboxes from Germany and manufactured the base plates and everything else in South Africa to meet customer requirements. Then we put it all together and shipped it up to the DRC.”

Prior to shipping, testing was conducted at an independent facility with the client present, which gave peace of mind before the packs left South Africa. Once the packages arrived at the mine – in some cases a 4-week road trip exacerbated by Covid-19 border regulations – SEW-EURODRIVE technicians were there to oversee installation and commissioning. The mine began operating in June 2021 and all is proceeding to plan.

“It was not a simple project as the client’s requirements were stringent and there were a large number of units involved,” concludes Meid. “But ultimately, we delivered according to the requirements.”

For more information contact Jana Klut, SEW-EURODRIVE, +27 11 248 7000,,

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