Minerals Processing - Improve the Efficiency and Running Costs of Your Plant (May 2015)

The mining sector is in the midst of a ‘down-cycle’, challenged by weak commodity prices and low demand. To survive, it must adapt as market conditions dictate and this requires its suppliers to do the same. Multotec has risen to this occasion - “Our business is more flexible than ever before and we are comfortably evolving with the industry by adapting our service and processing equipment to reduce costs while improving efficiencies,” CEO Thomas Holtz".

“Awareness and flexibility have become essential business tools in today’s economic environment,” Holtz continues. “To ensure we maintain and further develop this business skill, every Multotec employee stays constantly abreast of how the market is evolving to ensure we can assist the industry stay profitably competitive through our product offering and services. It is essential to build these elements into your business.”

Collaboration a key value proposition

“Our primary value proposition is to improve the efficiency and running costs of a plant,” Holtz states. More recent initiatives to achieve this include extensive collaboration, from its “strong” sales force, across its product and service silos, working effectively and leveraging across its portfolios. The benefit of multi-product installations across any application is significant. “It guarantees improved processing efficiencies and keeps total plant running costs to a minimum.”

In combination with its high level product line skills – a valuable resource for many companies struggling with skills constraints – Holtz believes Multotec’s collaborative approach will deliver efficient, streamlined processing plants.

“We’ve in fact proven this, particularly with some of our maintenance contracts; managing for example screens, cyclones, scrubber liners and ceramics under one contract umbrella. The cost reductions alone are significant. A single product-focused supplier cannot achieve the same yields in this respect. Based on our successes, we will focus on injecting this service further into the market.”

Another element of Multotec’s maintenance contracts - an area becoming more prevalent today - is recycling. Recycling materials wherever possible ensures a sustainable business model and a more sustainable industry.

The last arm of Multotec’s value proposition is Brownfields optimisation – employing techniques and methods to improve the operational performance of equipment in use, with a specific focus on reducing power consumption.

Training

Multotec is injecting more focus and effort into its training capabilities – the intention again to offer additional value-add to the industry. “We are formalising our in-house training in order to provide the mining industry with additional benefits when choosing to partner with us. Because we are taking this seriously, we are pursuing an endorsement for a prestigious industry body,” Holtz notes.

Empowered with the highest level of knowledge and understanding in how to utilise and operate a processing item, plant operators and managers will best utilise our equipment to the standards they are designed for which will ultimately see them deliver maximum return on investment.”

New products and new growth

With an extensive footprint in South Africa under its current product portfolio, Multotec’s growth strategy is two tiered. Firstly, the company is looking to grow its position in new regions including Africa, South America and Australia, but is furthermore expanding its product line as well.

Introducing a range of slurry pumps

Multotec has introduced a range of slurry pumps into its minerals processing product portfolio. Working in partnership with local foundry Mining and Slurry Technology (MST), who originally developed the pump, Multotec now offers a fully Multotec-branded slurry pump range.

“We are focusing on smaller sizes for now as we build the range over time as well as a relevant stockholding of the various steel types, liners, and other components. As with any piece of equipment, once we sell a pump we need to deliver on our service model – servicing, maintaining and providing the necessary spare parts. We won’t compromise on this to move a product quickly into the market,” Holtz highlights.

He describes MST as a “good quality foundry delivering high standard products. Like its cyclones, the pump range offers a high chrome content. “Our primary differentiating factor however is and will be our our service and support offering. At the moment our greatest advantage is short lead times – about five or six weeks.”

Over time, as the slurry pumps gain market share, Multotec will inject funding into the product’s development.

Water treatment for minerals processing

“We have secured a licence agreement with CleanTeq. It is an Australian company using Russian technology for continuous ion exchange, typically used in water treatment applications,” Holtz reveals.

Multotec is looking to use the technology for minerals processing applications, specifically in terms of effluent treatment and metals recovery. “Because this technology comprises one section of a larger water treatment plant, it needs to be designed into the full flow sheet. We will however partner with companies to include our technology into a full plant.”

This technology is ideal for clients looking for quick-to-install and commission plants. They are modular in design, containerised and can plug-in to the back end of a minerals processing plants for water treatment and recirculation.

Holtz admits that the greatest challenge is establishing a footprint (in Africa) from ‘scratch’. “With a host of successful installations and operating plants in Australia, the technology has however already proven to be a lower cost-per-megalitre system with a high efficiency conversion process.”

“For now, we are building and developing this business and have a test unit running. Ultimately, the intention is to augment existing processes and technologies with this technology.”