FLSmidth : Mining for MissionZero

Eddie ClintonPhoebe Harper
Eddie Clinton - Senior Head of Projects Phoebe Harper - Editor
Highlights
  • A giant of the modern mining industry, FLSmidth (FLS) is the full flowsheet technology and service supplier driving sustainable productivity.
  • In this charged environmental context, combined with the industry-specific demands of declining ore grades, cost pressures, and increasing demands on raw materials, FLS stands out as comprehensive solutions provider.
  • FLS’ overriding ambition is one of rapid growth, to facilitate the transition required to champion a more sustainable resources sector.
  • “We see a significant opportunity and believe we have a responsibility to enable the green transition,” says Wouter de Groot, Head of Sustainability, FLSmidth.

Uniquely positioned as an early adopter of sustainable mining practices, we foreground the full flowsheet solution provider at the vanguard of an evolving industry. Members of FLSmidth tell us more.

MINING FOR MISSIONZERO

“We are proud to offer the solutions of tomorrow, for the early adopters of today.” 

A giant of the modern mining industry, FLSmidth (FLS) is the full flowsheet technology and service supplier driving sustainable productivity. In terms of both its portfolio and geographical footprint, few can rival its sheer scope and reach with the amount of both plants and equipment captured under the FLS banner. 

Indeed, as a global leader in a high number of its total product portfolio, FLS has either equipment or services in practically every major mine site across the APAC region, regardless of the operator.  

Although a Danish company with a presence worldwide, this particular geography is a dynamic area of operation for FLS with over 500 technical, services, product development, sales, project management and R&D teams serving the entirety of Australia, whilst also supporting countries such as Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.  

For Jason Elks, FLS’ APAC Regional President and orator of the opening statement, it is a region undergoing a “significant transformation”, as the industry navigates a shifting global outlook influenced by the choppy currents of macroeconomic and geopolitical issues, regional instability and high inflationary pressures, all while answering the resounding demand for the green transition and sustainable economies.  

“Whether in terms of government policy or resource sector implementation, APAC is a late adopter to the movement,” shares Elks. “However, we have a significant push here because it’s a region where the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and others are more than aware that sustainable mining builds education, healthcare, infrastructure, and essentially develops countries.”

ANSWERING THE CALL  

As FLS’ Head of  Sustainability, Wouter de Groot acknowledges the shortcomings of the wider industry in articulating mining’s relevance and necessity in driving the transition to net zero. 

“As an industry, we haven’t done a very good job in making it visible just how instrumental mining really is,” he admits. The reality is stark and demands action from responsible players. 

“To put it simply, to enable a transition towards a net zero society, we need the same amount of copper in the next 40 years as we have mined in the history of humankind, and about three times as much lithium as we are currently exploring,” de Groot continues. 

In advancing the green transition of the mining industry, FLS established itself as a frontrunner in the space by taking a stance on accelerating sustainability in 2019 with its MissionZero commitment. 

“While we are on an exciting journey with some of our early adopting partners, by and large the industry has not embraced the evolution,” echoes Elks. “FLS is well-positioned, since for the past five years we have moved in a space that differentiates us as a market leader in innovation for sustainable practices.” 

As the hotly anticipated target years of both 2030 and 2050 steadily approach, the pressure is on as mining players must meet escalating demand while remaining current and competitive, or face the consequences of being late adopters with a backlash of taxes, tariffs, and negative community perception. 

THE FULL PACKAGE 

In this charged environmental context, combined with the industry-specific demands of declining ore grades, cost pressures, and increasing demands on raw materials, FLS stands out as comprehensive solutions provider on hand to meet evolving customer needs. 

“Major innovators such as FLS have the products available today to meet the objectives of 2030 and 2050,” Elks attests. 

Speaking with FLS Group CEO, Mikko Keto, two core advantages transpire as the company’s most competitive differentiators. 

“Over the years, we have built a position of having the most complete portfolio in the industry, combined with our full flowsheet competency which allows mines to be configured in an optimal way,” he introduces. 

As an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), FLS is in a rare position by operating across the entire mining flowsheet, offering its customers a full set of solutions from pit to plant. This comprehensive technological prowess thrives alongside a commitment to driving sustainable productivity that cements FLS’ status as a true industry leader and innovator. 

“We see a significant opportunity and believe we have a responsibility to enable the green transition,” comments de Groot. 

Running parallel to this core aim is FLS’ unrelenting commitment to delivering quantifiable value over the life cycle of a mine through its core service offering as a partner to its customers. In both sustainability and productivity, Qasim Abrahams, Head of Spare Parts and Aftermarket Service, recognises FLS’ standout strengths.  

“Due to our expertise and the technology, we are uniquely equipped and positioned to create this value by increasing asset life and throughput, reducing downtime, and mitigating emissions, energy and water usage through process solutions,” he says.

“We see a significant opportunity and believe we have a responsibility to enable the green transition”

Wouter de Groot, Head of Sustainability, FLSmidth

SPEARHEADING 2030 

The process solutions that FLS have developed seek to combat the most environmentally damaging facets of mining, with energy and electricity consumption, comminution, flotation, tailings and water as the problematic areas calling for the most improvement across the flowsheet. By seeking to minimise these contributors as much as possible, FLS preserves essential mining business in a responsible way. 

“The global green transition depends on minerals, and to achieve climate targets, we need more commodities and processing plants. Our commitment is to help our customers do that in the most sustainable way possible,” states Keto. 

By leveraging its well-advanced expertise and comprehensive product range to drive environmental footprint mitigation, the inception of MissionZero placed FLS firmly ahead of the curve in this regard. 

MissionZero was born from the recognition that we needed to use our expertise to help mining companies meet their targets and move the overall industry to a more sustainable production set up,” says de Groot. This entails a commitment to reaching zero energy waste, water waste and zero emissions by 2030, in line with the wider industry’s pledge for carbon neutrality by 2050. 

“FLS will essentially be a shop where any mining operator can find all the competencies, people, and technologies that will enable you to operate with zero emissions by 2030,” he continues. 

“Our MissionZero efforts and end to end flowsheet technology for lithium and other battery and critical minerals is at the forefront, but we are also focused on the traditional core and have innovated considerably in gold, copper and iron ore flowsheets to assist and fast track those commodity groups’ achievements for a sustainable future,” adds Elks.

SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS 

MissionZero’s success is intrinsically bound to the technological solutions designed to enable the fruition of that ambition across the flowsheet. 

This is evidenced by FLS’ vision of the MissionZero Mine and its flowsheet of the future which highlights the impact of solutions and optimisations across the mine site. With progress well underway, Elks elegantly describes the future MissionZero Mine as, “a global example in the art of the possible.” 

The site leverages key technologies including in-pit crushing and conveying, low impact grinding, coarse flotation, eco-beneficiation, dewatering, tailings management, and digitalisation, all of which combine to keep energy consumption to a minimum. 

“At FLS we take a holistic approach to our sustainability solutions to ensure they always have a net positive impact as we work towards our net zero targets,” shares Abrahams. 

Such solutions include a market leading high pressure grinding roll (HPGR) – the HPGR Pro – which has been proven to optimise energy efficiency in milling circuits by up to 30 percent. 

In water management, FLS’ automation filtration process can recycle 90 percent of the water used, offered in combination with a dry stack tailing solution. With many mines located in water-starved areas, the reuse of this precious resource is critical in minimising freshwater consumption. 

Elsewhere, state of the art flotation technologies have been introduced to decrease energy consumption by up to 60 percent. 

For Vice President, Head of Digital Services, Rebecca Siwale, the innovation of FLS’ flotation advanced process control (APC) system “pushes the envelope” of technology by leveraging deep learning to drastically enhance applications. 

“Our APC systems mimic how the human brain processes visual input. These deep learning technologies bring machine vision into an application where highly subjective decisions become instantaneous,” she tells us. 

THE DIGITAL RENAISSANCE 

As reflected by Siwale’s role at FLS, the company’s digital offerings of connected equipment and expertise in analytics are fundamental in providing value to customers through remote monitoring, predictive maintenance, and support services. 

“The digital transformation effort requires working with the customer across the mineral processing value chain to identify opportunities for improvement and implement solutions that drive business value,” she says. 

Digital services are deployed across the mineral processing flowsheet in comminution, sizing, flotation, separation, and dewatering to positively impact productivity, cost, and environmental footprint through real-time data, analytics and algorithms. 

“We leverage such technologies where systems will self-train themselves from the continual analysis of data and create models for effective sustainable decisions,” Siwale continues. 

“We are confident that building solutions on such innovative and breakthrough technologies for continuous and real-time optimisation and health monitoring of mining assets will greatly lower the impact and make our environment safer – be it through operational efficiencies, reduction in emissions and carbon footprint, savings in energy usage or protecting our water reserves.”   

To uphold this industry-leading 

position at the forefront of technological innovation, FLS maintains an emphasis on performance to guarantee the steady stream of investment that fuels the R&D necessary for future endeavours. 

“If we don’t make sufficient profit, then we can’t invest anything back into the business,” says Keto. “Without healthy financial performance, there is no R&D, innovation, or new development. This is extremely beneficial to our customers since it is this continual investment into R&D that makes us a leading technological supplier.”

“We are confident that building solutions on such innovative and breakthrough technologies for continuous and real-time optimisation and health monitoring of mining assets will greatly lower the impact and make our environment safer”

Rebecca Siwale, Vice President, Head of Digital Services, FLSmidth

THE ULTIMATE PARTNER 

In terms of delivering customer benefit, FLS prides itself on working in partnership with its customers, optimising operations and supporting their growth as an end-to-end process solution partner. 

“By working directly in partnership with our clients, rather than through an engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM), they can see and understand so much more of our product range,” elaborates Elks. 

Aside from the environmental advantages, partnership with FLS simply makes good business sense. 

“The value that we deliver has a direct positive impact to our customers’ bottom line,” affirms Abrahams. 

Siwale highlights one particularly effective example of this, where FLS’ use of advanced analytics, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) can increase a customer’s mill efficiency by up to 10 percent, an advantage which improves their bottom line tremendously. 

“We use digital technologies that enable us to detect and resolve issues quickly and efficiently to improve the uptime of our customers’ assets, but also to support improving their supply chain and optimising their capital committed on inventory levels. Having the right critical parts available with little or no lead time is crucial to ensure profitability,” she continues. 

FLS continues to grow and develop the business through its partnerships, approaching acquisitions as a means to fill in any gaps or make improvements in areas within its already impressive portfolio as per its CORE’26 strategy

“It’s always a win/win relationship if both parties commit and align on the overall goals of a partnership,” says Siwale. 

AFTERMARKET SUPPORT 

As a committed partner to its clients, FLS provides comprehensive aftermarket services including workshop, maintenance, repair, upgrades and overhaul, spare parts, retrofitting, and performance optimisation services. 

“The most important factor for the customer is that we can support them over the full life cycle of the mine,” Keto says. 

These run alongside the digital support solutions that are fundamental to modern mining, including remote monitoring, analytics, predictive maintenance, process control and automation solutions. 

“As technology develops, so too do customer expectations of what service should be delivered. Gone is the era of service merely keeping mines up and running and minimising downtime,” says Siwale. “We are committed to innovative aftermarket service offerings to meet the evolving needs of our customers.” 

Such needs range from improving maintenance efficiency, equipment reliability and overall uptime to maximising the lifespan of assets resulting in increased production and optimised operational expenditure. 

With customer needs integral to the company’s operations, the entire structure of the FLS group has been formatted to emphasis its dedicated service organisation, thereby elevating its focus on this specific area. 

“Our strategic service priorities and initiatives have been developed using a customer-centric lens, getting feedback from our customers looking forward to improving their journey and experience, while creating more value than before,” says Abrahams. 

This crucial customer feedback is the fuel that drives new product development, continually innovating and improving based on their demands.  

For Keto, the service area will be the focus of much investment in the years ahead through continued exploration into digital technologies to enhance FLS’ capabilities and offerings, particularly by improving on its strengths in consumables and wear parts. 

“On the service side of the business, our immediate priority is to strengthen our technological position and grow,” he tells us.

GOING FOR GROWTH 

Looking ahead, FLS’ overriding ambition across the whole group is one of rapid growth, to facilitate the equally rapid transition required to champion a more sustainable resources sector, working with and influencing policy and governmental considerations on a wider scale. 

“I am confident that we will grow rapidly,” affirms Elks. “Our end-to-end flowsheet solutions and product range will revolutionise the transition and rapid growth that sustainable mining demands to keep up with the early adopters.”  

Within the APAC region, this growth has seen FLS open a new office in Indonesia in April of this year, a country that Elks identifies as a “thriving resources hub and economy” poised to become the powerhouse of Southeast Asia and the broader region. In addition, the company seeks to develop its existing presence in Vietnam where there are great opportunities for critical minerals and metals of the future.    

Continually perfecting its technology portfolio, FLS will simultaneously pursue growth through the strong and innovative partnerships that the green transition demands. 

“As an industry, we need to increase the speed of adaptation to bring new technologies on board, working together to develop them in joint fashion,” concludes de Groot. 

With a recent rebrand in place reflecting the group’s reputation as a united company and provider of full flowsheet solutions with everything needed for productivity and sustainability, FLS continues the journey to 2030 one step ahead.

FLSMIDTH PARTNERS

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By Eddie Clinton Senior Head of Projects
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Eddie Clinton is a Senior Head of Projects for Mining Outlook. Eddie is responsible for showcasing corporate stories in our digital B2B magazines and Digital Platforms, and sourcing collaborations with Business Leaders, Brands, and C-suite Executives to feature in future editions. Eddie is actively seeking opportunities to collaborate. Reach out to Eddie to discover how you and your business could be our next cover story.