FLSmidth’s technology focus delivering sustainability results

27th September 2023 By: Tasneem Bulbulia - Senior Contributing Editor Online

FLSmidth’s technology focus delivering sustainability results

Stormill service centre
Photo by: Creamer Media's Tasneem Bulbulia

Technology and service supplier FLSmidth is transforming from an engineering company to a technology partner through its current Core’26 strategy.

This is already realising benefits for clients, such as helping them meet sustainability targets, the company noted during a media visit to FLSmidth’s Stormill service centre in Roodepoort, South Africa, on September 27.

Speaking to Mining Weekly on the day, FLSmidth Mining Site and Service Sales sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and South Asia VP Alistair McKay said the change in strategy was aimed at allowing the group to move away from its previous broader engineering scope, to focusing on technology and services that engender productivity improvements for mining clients and assist them with meeting sustainability targets, while also optimising performance for financial benefits.

He outlined that the strategy was predicated on four pillars – sustainability, technology, service and performance.

In terms of sustainability, McKay said the mining industry would be around for a long time to come, especially with burgeoning demand for the commodities needed for the green energy transition – and he emphasised that this industry must be sustainable.

This pillar therefore aims to ensure that FLSmidth’s customers and clients are able to mine and execute their work sustainably and to provide technologies for the mine of the future.

Some examples being pursued include using in-pit crushing solutions rather than haulage trucks, which are heavy carbon emitters, as well as water reduction and reuse at plants and sites.

Tied to this is the group’s own focus on environmental, social and governance targets, with it aiming to reduce Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions at its operations, and bringing clients along on this journey.

In terms of technology, McKay explained that the focus was on the future of mining and integrating the group’s technologies in the “mine of the future”, as well as assisting clients in extracting the most from their ore bodies, reducing operational expenses and engendering profitability.

The company makes continuous investment in research and development, McKay said. One example of a new technology is the reflux flotation cell.

“This is a really exciting flotation technology that was borne out of transitioning a technology from the coal industry and bringing it into flotation. We’ve seen significant benefits in terms of the reduction in flotation time, which has a benefit around reagent consumption as well as energy consumption,” he explained.

In terms of service, McKay said the transition from an engineering company that focuses on the front-end capital installation, compared with a technology partner that focuses on the entire lifecycle of this asset, means that FLSmidth is focusing a lot of attention on what happens after equipment is installed.

This entails ensuring that FLSmidth provides the correct technical expertise on site in terms of ongoing operations and ongoing training, gleaning the requisite information in terms of digital solutions around the optimum performance of the equipment, and having the proper partnership in terms of spares holding.

“It is really about partnering with our clients for the long term when the mine is actually in operation.”  

In terms of performance, McKay emphasised that financial performance was critical to a sustainable mining performance.

He said that therefore, this pillar was aimed at optimising grades and recovery for clients, reducing water and energy consumption, and engendering lower operating costs to help them mitigate inflationary pressures.

With this strategy ongoing, following a two-year journey, McKay said that the response thus far had been “overwhelmingly positive”.

He expanded that the focus of FLSmidth to help customers and clients meet their sustainability goals had been mentioned particularly. One example cited was a client in Zambia, which was able to reduce its carbon footprint by 33 000 t of carbon dioxide equivalent a year, merely through adopting the group’s in-pit crushing and conveying solution.

Moreover, this focus on sustainability had also resulted in a knock-on positive response from the market, McKay said.

He also mentioned that, through the service pillar, clients had been able to circumvent the challenge of having inexperienced people in the industry.