Potential for increased electrification originates in the mining pit — FLSmidth CEO

Thomas Schulz. Image from FLSmidth.

When Denmark-based FLSmidth announced it is buying German engineering firm Thyssenkrupp’s mining business for €325 million (about $386m), closing six months of negotiations, a business combination was born that will create a global mining technology provider with operations from pit to plant, with a global footprint.

Thyssenkrupp’s mining business, TK Mining, is present in 24 countries with engineering and global service centres, competing with Finland’s Metso Outotec and Sweden’s Sandvik and Atlas Copco, and its acquisition was the biggest deal in mining technology/suppliers since Metso merged with Outotec last year.

FLSmidth CEO Thomas Schulz said the combination will result in the incubation of over 3,000 global mining professionals into the company, adding to roughly 6,000 it already employed.

“We think we are in a growth cycle, and I think the whole mining industry sees that,” Schulz told MINING.COM. “And for us to have the right people available, in the right locations is very important to our success in the future. We can offer a lot [in terms] of career opportunities.”

“Sustainability will put a lot of additional technology requirements on the mining industry”

Thomas Schulz, CEO, FLSmidth

“On the production side, we have assembly centres, but the core competency, the core differentiator in the market are actually our people, and that’s what we have increased quite significantly. By consolidating, as a combined company we are able to offer that kind of scope of service — all over the world. We are strong in the Americas and Australia, Russia, Africa and the Middle East,” Schulz said.

The deal, first announced in July, will not include Thyssenkrupp’s operations in India.

Schulz said the company has strong targets for innovation and a strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) agenda.

“We know now is the time, because sustainability will put a lot of additional technology requirements on the mining industry,” he said.

“We declared, in 2019 what we called a mission zero — a promise for mining and especially for cement, that we would offer technology in the year 2030 where, in that range of what we offer, to be emission-free and fully sustainable. It was the ambition, and within the scope of the acquisition for us to achieve this target.”

Schulz emphasized the potential for increased electrification originates in the mining pit. He said research and development of the combined portfolio aim to build on the company’s EcoTails solution, which was developed jointly with Goldcorp prior to its merger with Newmont.

Ecotails, according to the company, is a new way to approach mine waste management and water conservation, blending filtered tailings with waste rock in transit and creating a geotechnically stable product called GeoWaste.

Leading into the acquisition, Schulz said R&D will focus on 1,000 patents.

“What’s most important is that in the future we can offer solutions by calculating the whole value chain from the pits to the port,” he said.

“If we make a change or improvement in a territory — what is the impact of that in the pit? Visualization is very important to fulfilling sustainability goals,” Schulz said. “If you want to reduce freshwater input into a mine site it’s important to optimize processes at a pumping station.”

Schulz said success can hinge on a few percentages to optimize a whole process to gain a real advantage, and said optimizing pit operations can be viewed in parallel to reducing the fuel consumption of a car.

“Research and development have to be addressed holistically — tire design, driver capabilities, and load scope can change a full vehicle’s influence and impacts,” he said.

“With this acquisition, we can do that.”

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