Metso has signed a 5-year strategic research agreement with The University of Queensland's JKTech division to develop next-generation technologies and services for energy-efficient minerals concentration. The agreement is part of a program where Metso and JKTech SPA will cooperate with the leading Chilean mining companies to develop Chile as a regional innovation hub for minerals processing. The research work will be conducted at the existing mines in Chile with a very clear focus on customer strategic needs. The program's four principal research themes are primary grinding, ball mill grinding, classification and coarse particle flotation; the main operational targets are productivity, energy and water efficiency.
"The goal of this unique research program is to take some serious steps forward in the development of equipment and methods that will enable the construction of the next-generation mineral concentrator. A very attractive feature of the program is that each technology offers a retrofit possibility to improve existing plant performance and can be utilized at other mines around the world as well. For Metso, the program offers a way to strengthen both our relationship with the leading Chilean mining companies as well as our industry-leading position as the supplier of energy-efficient minerals processing technology and services," says João Ney Colagrossi, President of Metso's Mining and Construction (as of October 1, 2014 President, Minerals, Metso).
Dr. Ben Adair from The University of Queensland will lead the initiative. He has a long-standing relationship with Metso, particularly in the areas of process control and equipment application in concentrators.
JKTech SPA and Metso are now in discussions with the Chilean mining companies that have expressed strong interest in the research program and the co-creation model for technology development. In addition to resources in Metso, JKTech and the participating mining companies, several experts in the various fields of study have been identified and will participate in the program on a consultancy basis.
"We are delighted to partner with Metso in this exciting Program. The 'Next-Generation Concentrator' will provide a step change in the energy, capital efficiency and production signatures of process plants for the global minerals industry. This initiative builds on a long-standing relationship with The University of Queensland, specifically with the Sustainable Minerals Institute, SMI-JKMRC and JKTech. Our alliance with Metso will place us on the forefront of genuine sustainability in minerals processing for the mining sector. Our time frames for implementation are aggressive and we look forward to a suite of innovation outcomes for our co-creation industry partners," states Dr. Ben Adair, Deputy Director, Sustainable Minerals Institute.
"The industry is talking about energy, water and sustainability, but, so far as we can tell, most of the activity is around incremental developments and fall well short of what is needed to efficiently exploit the ore bodies of the future (e.g. lower grades, higher hardness, finer grains). The University of Queensland is an ideal partner for us, as they have been working with the industry for many years and have assembled a kind of road map to the future, which is a very compelling vision and one that we feel is within reach. The current program embodies a number of these concepts and simultaneously aims at reducing the cash cost of production and improving capital effectiveness," comments Kenneth Brame, President, Minerals Processing Solutions business line, Mining and Construction, Metso.
"The rising energy costs, falling ore grades, use of water, and productivity are particularly important operational issues for Chilean mines. The potential of this research program to impact these areas in real-life cases is very exciting. The new program also offers Metso a great opportunity to develop an even better relationship with peers in the customer organizations and to enhance the technical capabilities of Metso in Chile," says Aldo Cermenati, SVP, Pacific Rim market area, Mining and Construction, Metso.
JKTech is the technology transfer company for the Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI) of The University of Queensland (UQ). JKTech SPA is involved in SMI-ICE Chile, which is an International Center of Excellence in Mining. The center is one of the 12 centers established by the Chilean Ministry of Economy and the Chilean Economic Development Agency (CORFO) to develop Chile as a regional innovation hub across a broad range of industries.