Qasim Abrahams, Country Manager and VP Sales and Service, Metso Southern Africa

MACIG Connect Series

Metso Southern Africa explains how mines are currently focusing on optimization.

Metso Southern Africa has been established in South Africa for 60 years now. Can you highlight its importance to the Metso Corporation?

Metso Southern Africa contributes 60% of the business value for the AMET (Africa, Middle East & Turkey) region. Within Metso Southern Africa, we have a sales and service organization, but we also have manufacturing capabilities at our plant 40 kilometers outside of Johannesburg.

How does Metso Southern Africa provide differentiated service for its clients in the mining sector?

Beyond providing capital equipment and services, Metso Southern Africa’s focus is on optimization and process solutions. We understand that the mining houses and the mining sector as a whole are coming out of a slump, and because of that, our key customers are focusing significantly on optimization — making sure the bottom line is managed while obtaining sufficient returns. Optimization is where Metso can add value because instead of just being a technology or service provider, we are a solutions provider. Metso can do everything in terms of end-to-end process solutions, and we have our own in-house process optimization experts who get involved with our customers to make sure we exceed their expectations. Our focus in 2017 has been trying to understand where key customers are today, where they want to go, and their largest impediments. To provide an example of our optimization process, we were able to take one of our customer’s crusher efficiency from a 78% to 95% operation.

What trends in the Southern Africa mining sector has Metso Southern Africa observed that represent opportunities to provide optimization?

Aging mines represent an opportunity to provide our services because older mines have deteriorating equipment. Older equipment is less efficient, creating a higher operating base. However, we understand that aging mines are also often cash-strapped when looking to purchase new capital, and this is where Metso can put together lifecycle service packages that allow us to offer capital equipment within an OPEX structure. By tailoring to the specific costs of the mine, we can better service our customers. The way we structure our packages is dependent on what kind of minerals they are producing and their cost base. We really try to understand each customer’s situation on a case-by-case basis to put together a customized solution. 

Mining tends to be seen as a more conservative sector. What steps need to be taken to ensure that mining companies take advantage of the opportunities afforded by new advancements in digital?

When looking at the leadership of the major mining houses and the technology suppliers for the mining sector, there has been a huge change in senior and executive leadership. There is a new brand of leadership that is embracing new technologies, new ways of optimization, and new ways of looking at business generally. Any business, in any market, is going to be limited by the people running it, but if we see a change in the human capital driving the mining industry, we are going to see the kind of shift that is required within the sector. Metso Southern Africa, for example, has a younger and diverse leadership team and we are changing the discussion by asking different questions because we want to see different results. 

How will the push towards value addition play out across Africa as more governments insist on achieving maximum value, and what role can Metso play in this trend?

Value adding initiatives can only be a positive thing. There are going to be challenges, and not short-term ones. It is going to take us quite a few years to be able to establish a proper industry where we can add value to the volume of minerals we process within Africa. We need to see more public and private partnerships to move this industry forward. Metso Southern Africa can play a role by partnering closely with the end customer through an advisory role to assist in determining how much should be spent on a start-up plant, for example.

How does Metso Southern Africa promote energy efficiency in its operations, and how will this trend evolve more broadly across the mining sector?

Many of the new products we develop, specifically on the crusher side, are being produced much more efficiently than older generations of equipment. We have gained efficiency in terms of consumption at the plant through those technological advances. We need to be aware that access to stable energy is an issue in Africa. There is an increasing drive from mining houses to look at more sustainable business practices alongside energy inputs, not only from an efficiency perspective, but from a production perspective.

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