Modern Mining: Featured News

A long-time screening media leader in the mining sector, Multotec’s impressive design and manufacturing capability today allows it to share the benefits of its ongoing technology development with its Europe-based sister companies and unlock more value in return.

                        Multotec produces a wide range of screening media.

“We are working more and more closely with our European-based sister companies like Steinhaus, Siebtechnik, Hein Lehmann, Isenmann and Tema to leverage our respective expertise and experience to mutual advantage, and to the benefit of our local customers,” says Roy Roche, Vice President Screening Media at Multotec.

“The diversity of our product offerings has allowed Multotec to operate across all commodities, supplying screening media to operations such as gold, diamonds, coal, base metals, precious metals, precious stones, phosphates and rare earth,” he says. “Working more closely with our global partners, we now have the opportunity to grow our presence into the aggregate segment and even industrial segments like food.”

He highlights Multotec’s unique manufacturing capabilities, producing a wide range of screening media using wedgewire, polyurethane polymers, rubber compounds, ceramic compounds and various forms of steel.

“There are few, if any, other companies in the world that can match this capability,” he says. “This allows us to screen any commodity at all, and to consider expanding our applications through our global collaboration with sister companies into new geographies.”

These firms – based mainly in Germany – have up to a century of experience in their respective fields and can feed into Multotec’s mining product evolution cycle with technology in areas such as fixing systems, ease of installation and flexibility of polymers.

“Without collaboration, business will struggle to face the challenges of the future,” he says. “The world has changed a great deal in the last 30 to 40 years, and with the ease of international travel combined with the power of the internet, we have really become a global village; and, as in any village, we really need to start talking to each other.”

Roche emphasises the importance of South Africa remaining a leading ‘platform’ of mining expertise. While the country held a unique position up to just a couple of decades ago, there have been considerable advances in mining technology in countries such as Australia, China, India, Chile and Canada since then.

“Multotec’s extensive operations in the southern hemisphere through our South African base and African footprint – together with Multotec Australia and our presence in South America – have allowed us to keep a close track of trends and to anticipate these trends in our product range,” he says. “This networking in the ‘global south’ is now expanding through our sister companies in the northern hemisphere, extending into major new markets including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, India, China and the Scandinavian countries.”

The focus on the aggregate sector also opens doors to growth in other southern hemisphere countries, he adds, with the size of the aggregate industry in Brazil, for instance, exceeding even its substantial mining sector.

The cooperation between sister companies to date has been based on design and technical capabilities, as well as manufacturing capacity, and has seen experts from the different companies sharing ideas at screening workshops and sales conferences. Lessons and techniques are shared related to key issues such as accuracy of screening, preventing pegging and blinding on screen media, and replaceability of panels.

“Our global colleagues’ experience in screening aggregates is very valuable and we have already been able to share aspects of this with our customers locally,” he says.

Roche also emphasises the extent to which Multotec’s market leading achievements have contributed to the collaboration.

“We have a ‘golden thread’ running through our business – from concept and design stage, through manufacture and installation, to performance monitoring, feedback and design modification,” he says. “This feedback loop has led to continuous improvement of our products, adding value with each new enhancement.”

Multotec’s technology leadership also feeds into mining companies’ increased focus on maintenance issues, as mines pursue strategies for higher productivity and cost-effectiveness. He notes that some of the larger miners have established dedicated working groups on maintenance management, and they have included specialist suppliers like Multotec for their cutting edge input.

“For example, they are looking for higher levels of predictability in the wear rates of their screen panels,” he says, “as they need greater certainty on mean time between failures (MTBF) to be able to plan maintenance shutdowns with the least possible disruption to production.”

While it is vital to constantly extend the MTBF, it is also important to carefully monitor wear rates so that precise predictions can be made as to when it is optimal to replace panels. The replacement process also needs to be as quick and risk-free as possible to reduce costly plant downtime and its effect on production levels and revenues.

Roche highlights the two main aspects of Multotec’s business that keep it ahead of the game: firstly, understanding in detail what the customer’s application is; and secondly, understanding the manufacturing process to achieve the technical solution for what the customer requires.

“To develop and provide the solution that the customer needs, we must understand his whole process – before and after the screening stage,” he says. “Only then will we know what to do to optimise the process and make it more efficient. We realise that the customer has a range of issues to deal with on their mining and processing activities – while we can focus on the details of the metallurgical process and improving it.”

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