Ash Resources rises to the St Helena challenge

30 June 2015

South Africa’s leading fly ash producer, Ash Resources, has an impressive track record of supplying its high quality fly ash to far-flung projects. This includes the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai and the Naga Hammadi Barrage on the River Nile in Egypt, but a tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic heads the stakes for challenging logistics.

St Helena is a remote island in the southern Atlantic Ocean, over 2,000 km off the coast of Africa – almost halfway to South America ‒ which acquired fame as the place of Napoleon Bonaparte’s exile from 1815-1821. Goods are currently transported to the island on the vessel, RMS St Helena, which takes six days to travel from Cape Town. However, the winds of change have finally touched this fascinating speck on the world atlas.

To make the island community more self-sustainable by promoting tourism, the British Government is funding the construction of an international airport. Main contractor, Basil Read, awarded Ash Resources the contract for the supply of an estimated 3,500 tons of its classified siliceous fly ash, DuraPozz®. Ash Resources was the only supplier able to guarantee delivery of product that met the customer’s needs in the required time frame.

“DuraPozz® is contributing to designing improved workability concrete mixes that produce the dense, durable concrete required in this marine environment. It imparts sulphate resistance and also resistance to chloride induced corrosion,” comments Basil Read’s project director, Jimmy Johnston. “Another key benefit of DuraPozz® is that it helps to control the heat of hydration in mass pours. This is particularly important for the production of Core-loc® concrete armour units in the Basil Read precast yard for the breakwater of the permanent wharf being constructed at the island’s Rupert’s Bay.”

Delivery to St Helena is a challenging exercise with the bulk of the construction equipment and materials being shipped on Basil Read’s vessel, NP Glory 4, out of Walvis Bay in Namibia, with the remainder sailing on the RMS St Helena from Cape Town.

“The DuraPozz® journey begins with Ash Resources’ Lethabo plant filling 1,25 ton bulk bags and loading them into standard 20-foot containers under considerable time pressure to meet vessel stack dates,” says Andrew McKeen, infrastructure civil development manager – Lafarge South Africa.

The Ash Resources’ logistics team rails the containers to Cape Town and arranges for them to be sent either by sea or by road to Walvis Bay in Namibia. There, they are loaded on the Basil Read vessel, which sails a regular 4,600-km round trip from Walvis Bay to St Helena and back on a twenty-day cycle.

Construction of the airport is gathering momentum with the recent completion of the 8-million cubic metre fill for the end of the runway, and pouring of the runway concrete under way together with construction of the terminal buildings. A bulk fuel installation is close to the commissioning phase. The first-ever flights into St Helena are scheduled for July 2015 to undertake the calibration of the airfield’s navigational aids and Air Traffic Control equipment. This will be followed by the inaugural commercial flight in February 2016.

“The design, build and operation of St Helena Airport is a unique project that has brought into play the skills of Basil Read’s blasting, mining, civil engineering, roads and building resources, augmented by our design and logistics teams,” says Johnston. “The support of supplier Ash Resources has been exemplary, not only from a consistent high-quality product perspective but also by the fact that they have not once missed a shipment stack date. It is a privilege to be involved in such a prestigious project that will change the future for St Helena by making it more accessible to the rest of the world.”

More information from Natalie Johnson, Tel: +27(0)11 657 2320 /

Read the latest issue

Latest Issue