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Fast-track buildings for mining projects

Light steel convenience

‘LSF building method is growing in popularity. This growth is evidenced by the membership of SAFSA, which now stands at more than 60 member companies. Member organisations are involved in projects for clients in the mining, oil and gas, and petrochemicals, just to cite a few.’

Mining companies need fast-track building solutions for their projects. Thankfully, the construction industry is pulling out all the stops to meet this need with innovative designs that serve the purpose. The growth in the niche of light steel frame buildings is a case in point.

Huge potential

Light steel frame buildings (LSFB) present an option worth exploring for mining companies due to the comparative advantages they offer. In a review on the method, the Southern African Institute of Steel Construction (SAISC) sees huge potential through the reduction of building costs, less time to finish, energy efficiency, and accuracy.

  • Reduced building costs

The growth in the popularity of LSF construction locally is because it reduces building costs, in several ways.

  • Less time

A major advantage of LSF building is that a structure takes much less time to complete than a similar brick-and-mortar building. As the construction team can finish the outer shell of the building in a much shorter period, work on the inside of the building (completing internal lining, ceilings, tiling and painting) can get underway much earlier – as can the installation of services (water and electricity. In addition, having the outer shell completed earlier means that the building can be secured against unauthorised access much sooner.

  • Energy efficiency

With its installed insulation, LSF buildings are more energy-efficient than heavy masonry buildings. A research project carried out by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for SASFA, indicates that an LSF building will require less than half the energy needed to heat and cools an uninsulated masonry residential building.

The use of LSF allows for energy conservation on two levels. The energy used in the manufacture of the actual building materials – the embodied energy – is considerably less than the amount consumed by traditional building materials. Secondly, the operational energy used in heating and cooling the building over its lifespan is also considerably less.

  • Accuracy

A LSF building is dimensionally far more accurate than masonry building or concrete construction. This saves time and cost when installing pre-made components such as kitchen cupboards and wardrobes. With light steel framing, one can work to a tolerance of less than +5 mm.

Evidence of growth

LSF building method is growing in popularity. This growth is evidenced by the membership of SAFSA, which now stands at more than 60 member companies, that are involved in projects for clients in the mining, oil and gas, and petrochemicals, just to cite a few.

Side bar

‘LSFB is not prefabricated building’

LSFB should not be confused with prefabricated buildings. In LSF buildings, the supporting frame is made from a thin gauge, high-strength galvanized steel sheet, which has been cold-formed into lip-channel sections.

These sections are joined using rivets or self-tapping screws to form strong wall frames, roof trusses and floor joists. The wall panels are then clad using fibre-cement and gypsum boards, and fixed using battery-powered screw guns to install the self-drilling screws.

Insulation (glass wool) is installed in the wall cavities to provide thermal efficiency and enhance the acoustic properties of the walls.

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