Gauteng Branch Teaches the Ropes!

SANIRE Gauteng Bench’s 2015 year end function taught about 20 SANIRE members “the ropes” at the CSIR’s Rope Testing facility, located in Sunnyside, Johannesburg.


The function started at the Groundwork Consulting offices with the usual jovial banter amongst peers, while sipping on cold drinks and dreaming of the snacks (that the Branch Treasurer forgot to organise). Surprisingly, beer and wine only started flowing later, after 11 am.

First on the agenda was a guided tour of the CSIR’s Rope Testing facility, located only a quick stroll away from Groundwork’s offices.

The CSIR is the recognised custodian of in-service mine rope technology and performs the bulk of the statutory tests required for hoist ropes in the mining industry. As a National Key Point, the CSIR wire rope testing laboratory also maintains the largest historical database of rope tests in the world.

Our host, Mr Gert Coertzen, spoke with passion about the history and heritage of the CSIR’s rope testing facility. Common services provided by the facility include the following

  • Destructive testing of hoist ropes for the mining industry
  • Bending tests and torsion tests on wires
  • Rope fatigue tests
  • Rope fracture tests.

For each hoist rope tested, mines are provided with a detailed report that includes the breaking force and an assessment of the condition of individual strands and wires at the point of failure. The report also alerts the mines to rope characteristics that breach, or are about to breach, accepted performance standards; for example, a breaking force that is 90 % or less than the new-rope breaking force. An assessment of corrosion and general rope lubrication is also provided.

The laboratory is an advanced technology facility, housing state-of-the-art wire rope testing equipment. The machines used in the destructive testing of steel wire ropes have capacities ranging from 2 kN for small diameter ropes to 15 kN for ropes up to 160 mm in diameter.

Members were taken aback by the sight of massive load testing machines first commissioned in the 1920s and still in operation today. There are no 100 ton limits here, with machines capable of operating to testing loads in the mega Newtons! Interest was sparked by a 100-year-old 1000 tonnes large pattern compression testing machine, suited to static destructive testing of full-sized pack support products.

The tour of the rope testing facility was followed by a demonstration of destructive testing of both mine poles and tendon support units, using Groundwork’s own testing facility. Groundwork also shared some new research being conducted into defining an applicable loading rate downgrading factor for use in South African platinum mines.

A well-deserved lunchtime dop ‘n tjop was followed by a technical presentation by event sponsors, Tunnel Guard.

An eventful and informative end to a long and busy year – all thanks to the hosts Groundwork Consulting and the CSIR rope testing facility, as well as event sponsors Tunnel Guard. SANIRE Gauteng Branch would like to extend a hearty invitation to all SANIRE members to join us for our planned 2016 technical day/evening line up.