Unimog to serve Kalagadi well


The Kalahari is estimated to contain 80% of the world’s known manganese reserves, which is an important ingredient in steel. An evaluation of historically available information indicates that up to one-billion tons of mineable ore could exist under the prospecting area, covering a section of 8 000 ha.


Kalagadi Manganese is an R11-billion project and entails the construction of a manganese mine and a 2.4-million-ton-a-year high-grade sinter plant. The three farms on which the company holds new order mining rights are believed to overly have 960 million tons of manganese ore. The recent exploration programme has identified 102 million tons of Mineral Resources.

When Kalagadi Manganese was looking for a rugged, robust and reliable vehicle to use as a fire fighter vehicle, their choice fell on the Mercedes-Benz Unimog 4000.

The iconic Unimog offers top off-road performance and its extreme manoeuvrability makes it possible to go almost anywhere, says Christo Kleynhans, Product Manager: Mercedes-Benz Trucks at Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA).

“The Unimog’s versatility gives it the edge and there are not many, if any, other vehicles that are more suited for fire fighting on hostile terrains. The Unimog is used extensively for rescue missions, fire fighting, flood rescue, recovery and disaster management incidents over the world and its numerous applications are legendary,” he says.

The Unimog is a custom-made vehicle that can be adapted to best suit each individual customer’s needs and requirements.

The chassis concept is what makes the Unimog ideally suited for conversions and why others struggle to compete. The chassis provides extra dimensions to the Unimog, allowing it to operate with strength, stability and superior traction.

Other special features that set the Unimog apart are its ability to retain dryness on special units and electric devices when moving through water – for example, when used in flood incidents. The driver can also adjust the tyre pressure with a push of a button.

Unimog chassis cab was secured through Mercedes-Benz and the fire fighting application was done by Rosenbauer in Spain, says Michael von der Heyde, Sales Manager at Rosenbauer South Africa.

The Unimog chassis allows for an expanded range of flexibility and it requires some expert engineering to fit the specialised equipment. It takes four to six months to complete the process and each Unimog fire engine is closely inspected by Mercedes-Benz upon completion to ensure it complies with their stringent standards and regulations.

The Unimog 4000 to be used by Kalagadi is fitted with a 1500-litre water tank and a 150-litre foam tank. An operator chooses a button to add the foam concentration in a three- or six percent solution to the water.

“Rosenbauer builds pumps with high or extra high-pressure systems that can deliver up to 10 000-litres per minute – almost half the volume of water in an average-size domestic swimming pool,” says Von der Heyde.

“The Kalahari manganese basin is a very dry area with extreme temperatures that are prone to grass and veld fires,” says Daphne Mashile-Nkosi, Chairperson of Kalagadi Manganese. Unimogs have proven very effective at various other mining operations and the team at Kalagadi was suitably impressed when they first saw them in operation. “It was an easy decision to choose a Unimog”, says Mashile-Nkosi.

The Unimog fire endine will also be used to fight fires in the surrounding areas, thereby providing much-needed help to the community.

Whilst handing over the keys to Kalagadi, Frank van Heerden, Sandown managing director said,  “The Unimog is a top-of-the-range off-road vehicle with the exact capabilities that are required for Kalagadi’s applications. I am confident that it will serve Kalagadi Manganese and the community well and we are pleased to have been part of the journey from inception going forward.”

The Commercial Vehicle Division of Sandown Motor Holdings represents the most recognized truck brands in the world – Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner, Mitsubishi and FUSO.  At the heart of Sandown Motor Holdings’ evolution, since their establishment in 1982, lies Daimler AG who bought a majority stake in the dealership group in June 2001.  Apart from its highly respected vehicle brands, Daimler AG also brings its technological expertise into the service aspect of the business.

The Commercial Vehicle Division is a flexible organization with a deep understanding of the trucking industry, offering customers the full spectrum of products and support services.  These include transport consultancy, parts operations, service operations, body repair centres, fleet services and a fully fledged used commercial vehicle operation.