South African firm Milotek is to build its first commercial fractional rapid transit system at a South African mine. The mine in question has not been named, but it is privately owned and located in Mpumalanga Province. Milotek, which is majority-owned by Imperial Group, has already built and operated a 1 km test track near Brits in South Africa. It has been developing the Futran technology, for which it holds rights to mining and logistics applications in sub-Saharan Africa and South America, since 2014.
The unmanned pods are to be used to transport coal at 50 km/h while suspended from an elevated track system. The pods are not connected to each other, but have a programmed job card, so they can operate independently. It uses standard electric motors, steel wheels that run on steel tracks, and each require power equivalent to 30 kW. Milotek hopes to use solar energy to power the system in the future.
In a statement, the company said: “Milotek is focused on the deployment of the Futran system in the mining and bulk haulage industries. In its designated territory, Milotek owns and develops the Futran technology for the mining and bulk commodities industries, sells it to clients, designs tracks for clients, and arranges for financing and rental of tracks to clients through Futran Manufacturing.” It will operate and maintain systems, charging customers only on a pertonne delivered basis.
A spokesperson added: “In the mining industry, the Futran system can be deployed to haul ore between open pits, washing plants, overburden dumps, stockpiles, rail sidings, ports, mills and power plants.”
Each pod can carry up to 20t, and runs on either automated motorised bogies, non-motorised slave bogies, skips, containers or pods. It can run horizontally, at any angle, or vertically, allowing ore to be collected at the coal face and taken straight to the surface without being re-handled. The company claims that the Futran system can transport up to 250 Mtpa along a single corridor, running at half the cost of a heavy haul railway line, and at a third of the cost
for loading ships with bulk materials.