13 Dec 2017

African mining makes tracks thanks to steel sleepers

The expanding mining community in West Africa is making tracks across Guinea, thanks to the supply of steel sleepers from British Steel.

Mineral-rich Guinea is estimated to possess more than a quarter of the world’s supply of bauxite and is in the process of increasing its export capacity of the mineral from 15 to 25 million tonnes per year over a period of 5 years. In order to do so, it has been necessary to upgrade existing freight lines and in some cases, reopen mines.

Rail Account Manager David Benton said: “We’ve been working with 2 companies in Guinea – the Guinea Bauxite Company (Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée, CBG) and United Company Rusal (Russian Aluminium), the world’s second largest aluminium company – to support their growth in this region.

“CBG has upgraded the track which runs from the mining sites in the Boké region to the materials processing terminal 120km away at the port of Kamsar. The standard gauge track was enhanced using 54,000 of our steel sleepers in both 436 and 300 profiles, permitting the overall traffic loading to be carried. In order to support the heavy haul loads coming from the mine, it was also necessary to provide 730 tonnes of 136RE premium rail MHH, with maximum head hardness for exceptional wear-resistance, via our agents CIM Equipment.”

The 300 profile is the most recent addition to our steel sleeper range and was introduced as an intermediate-sized sleeper to efficiently support rail traffic, particularly in mining regions.

David said: “Also in Boké, UC Rusal required 17,000 steel sleepers in 436 profile to renew standard gauge track leading to one of their mines."

Steel sleepers are stronger and more durable than wooden sleepers which have been traditionally used in African regions, and are 100% recyclable. 

Additionally, the transportation of steel sleepers is much more efficient than the transportation of their concrete equivalents, as they are lighter and easily stacked – road vehicles can carry 3 times more steel sleepers than concrete, meaning lower transportation costs.

David said: "Moving south-east to the Fria region, UC Rusal has brought back into service a bauxite mine which had previously been mothballed. This is connected by a metre gauge line running to the port of Conakry, for which we are currently supplying 30,000 of our smaller steel ties, the 202 profile.

"We fought off strong international competition in order to secure the contracts and look forward to supporting the Guinea region for many years to come."

You can download our steel sleepers data sheet.

For more information on steel sleepers, please contact us.