Mining customers at FLSmidth’s stand at Electra Mining Africa this year showed growing interest in digital solutions which drive sustainability while lifting productivity.
“Our customers recognise the value of reducing carbon emissions in plant operations, but are looking beyond a ‘big bang’ event to achieve MissionZero,” says Alistair McKay, FLSmidth vice president for Mining in sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and South Asia. “Rather, they are looking for a longer-term collaboration with technology partners like FLSmidth to steadily achieve sustainability goals.”
McKay highlighted that progress was not necessarily based on just new capital innovations, but on the ongoing optimisation of existing equipment throughout the process flowsheet. The performance of conventional equipment such as pumps can be optimised through smart monitoring and optimisation, he emphasises.
“An important question we are helping customers to answer is: How do we put the ‘building blocks’ of success together to support the MissionZero strategy?” he says. “This approach looks beyond quick wins to be etched up in an ESG rating and considers a longer term and sustainable process.”
Digitalisation is already paving the path to greater efficiency and lower energy consumption, he explains. This includes making operational information on all equipment available to operators and decision makers in a usable format – on whichever device they are using. By pulling through all the relevant data and analysing it in real time, the performance of various equipment can be monitored and assessed for continuous improvement.
“Our LoadIQ smart sensor, which is used to optimise mill loads, is a perfect example of this,” he says. “By measuring volumetric filling and ore trajectory in real-time, LoadIQ allows mill operating parameters to be automatically adjusted as grinding conditions change.”
Its application on a mill at a large copper mine in South America led to throughput improvements of 10% – translating to additional revenues of some $150 million per year.
Deon de Kock, FLSmidth President for sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and South Asia, supports this assessment, pointing to customers’ concern to ‘achieve more with less’. They are looking for more production from the same plant, with less energy and less water, says de Kock.
“Plant operators are looking to us to help them get more from their existing plants,” he says. “This means reducing their carbon footprint and water consumption while optimising production.”
The expertise to apply the necessary technology to do this is readily available in FLSmidth’s operations around this region, he says. Further specialist knowledge can be drawn in from the company’s global network, providing the necessary insights and experience.
Electra Mining Africa also provided a great platform for FLSmidth to confirm the exciting news of its acquisition of thyssenkrupp’s Mining business. De Kock highlighted that the organisational integration was underway for the two companies to be operating as one by year-end.
“This acquisition boosts FLSmidth’s position as a global leader in mineral process solutions, particularly with the newly acquired high pressure grinding roll (HPGR) technology, eccentric roll crushers and bulk materials handling equipment,” he says. “This expands our pit-to-plant range of sustainable solutions and supports our central ambition of bringing sustainable technology to mines, increasing productivity and reducing the environmental footprint.”