"The industry spotlight has shifted from increasing capacity to enhancing productivity through optimization and digitalization."

Deon de Kock

PRESIDENT, SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA, MIDDLE EAST & SOUTH ASIA, FLSMIDTH

December 03, 2021

Can you elaborate on FLSmidth’s MissionZero plan?

MissionZero is our sustainability ambition, enabling cement and mining customers to move towards zero emissions, 100% fuel substitution and zero water and energy waste by 2030.

The transition of the cement and mining industries to more sustainable forms of production is critical to solving the challenges of climate change. For instance, battery minerals, like lithium, are key minerals for the green-energy transition. It is, therefore, an industry where MissionZero can play a big role – we can help make battery mineral extraction more sustainable, thus making the path to a low-carbon future more sustainable. FLSmidth's involvement in lithium extraction for 25 years resulted in a contract for product engineering for the first phase of lithium-boron project in Nevada. In the second quarter, FLSmidth also began the delivery of advanced lithium-centred technologies acid roasting, rotary cooler and pre-heat cyclone technology to Covalent in Australia in Q2, following an order placed in 2019.

Can you elaborate on FLSmidth’s dewatering technology offering under the company’s MissionZero program?

We have dry stack tailings technology, which is the most sustainable method used to store filtered tailings and allows for better recovery of dissolved metals and process chemicals. The Dry Stack Tailings process can recirculate up to 95% of mine process water and the elimination of wet tailings dams eliminates the risks of dam failures, loss of life and lowers environmental impact.  

Goldcorp and FLSmidth co-developed the EcoTails™ filter technology as one solution in this area. This is a process which blends filtered tailings with waste rock, creating a geotechnically stable waste product and eliminating the need to keep conventional slurry tailings contained in a dam and submerged in water. The resulting environmental benefits are no tailings dam, lower fresh water use, reduced acid rock drainage, a smaller mine footprint and less overall risk.

FLSmidth also offers dry processing technologies as a solution to water scarcity. We have filter presses that are used to recirculate water, and this technology allows for reclaim of up to 90% of water for re-use in the plant. About 70% of global mines are located in countries where water stress is considered a major risk, and therefore sustainable and smarter water and tailings management is an ideal solution. The industry interest in this is growing with one recent example being an order that will see FLSmidth deliver an integrated dry stack tailings solution and a paste fill plant to a Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL) lead-zinc mine in Rajpura Dariba, Rajasthan.

Can you also elaborate on FLSmidth’s automated and digital technologies?

The industry spotlight has shifted from increasing capacity to enhancing productivity through optimization and digitalization - utilizing the right data and combining it with the human experts, can lead to significant gains on reliability, productivity and sustainability.  We are building a growing portfolio of digital solutions we call FLSmidth ENABLR™ which includes ECS/ControlCenter™, the process control platform, an interface between the equipment and cloud data storage, SiteConnect™ mobile app to monitor the performance of the equipment and process in real-time.

At both plant and process level, there is also the advanced ECS/ProcessExpert® solutions, facilitating not just monitoring and control, but advanced optimisation enabled by AI technologies.

How is FLSmidth navigating the local content and BEE laws in South Africa?

BB-BEE laws have not been an issue for FLSmidth as we subscribe to broad-based black economic empowerment principles. We support all aspects of the BB-BEE initiatives and in particular the development of local suppliers and small enterprises, as well as that of a strong talent pipeline.

We have approximately 50 apprentices in training at any given time, and every year we give out five scholarships for chemical, mechanical and metallurgical engineering students from previously disadvantaged communities. We aim to promote young talent into management positions from this pipeline, in addition to the traditional sources of talent, because talented young people who want to make a career in mining and cement industries are a very sought-after ‘commodity’.

However, local content is a challenge for multinationals, and we are struggling to get to the 60% local content compliance. We are working closely with the government to look at opportunities to meet this regulation.

It is challenging that BBE regulations change frequently. One of the main things hurting FDI in South Africa is political unpredictability.   

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