Tag Archives: FLSmidth


FLSmidth vacuum disc filters are playing a vital role in preparing tailings slurry for a backfill application at a new copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to Maria-Paula Lucero, sales and account manager at FLSmidth, the company supplied four 3,8 metre diameter disc filters, each comprising 14 vacuum discs. They are installed in two modules, with two units in each. This provides a cost effective dewatering strategy resulting in a cake dry enough to be mixed with cement and other additives before being conveyed underground to be placed in mined-out workings as backfill. 

“The efficacy of the vacuum filter in this application allows the mine to consistently achieve its targeted level of dewatering,” says Howard Areington, general manager projects and account sales at FLSmidth. “This, in turn, means that the amount of cement and additives can be optimised, keeping operating costs down.”

Areington highlights that vacuum disk filters are the preferred technology for tailings dewatering in backfill applications, being the most cost effective form of vacuum filtration per square metre of footprint. 

A range of ancillary equipment was provided as part of the scope of supply, according to Lucero. This included the liquid-ring vacuum pump with capacity to pump almost 15,700 m3/h at a pressure of 67 kPa, as well as filtrate receiver and a filtrate pump of 32 m3/h capacity. FLSmidth also supplied a 1060 gallon snap air receiver, a 750 kPa air compressor, a plant air receiver and an air drier. The water used in the filter vacuum pump needs to be potable so it was important for the design to recycle as much as possible. It is therefore recirculated through a closed circuit, with a cooling tower added to dispel heat from the water before it is re-introduced to the system. 

“With disc filters delivering a drier product with more water savings, FLSmidth has provided this technology to many projects around the world,” says Areington. “With FLSmidth’s global reputation in the field for vacuum filtration backfill applications, we have secured a significant portion of this market – also supplying some of the largest vacuum disc filters in use today.”

A considerable portion of the disc filter installation was locally manufactured in South Africa, he notes. It was shipped in components to site, and installed by a third-party engineering company under FLSmidth supervision. Despite the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, the units were manufactured and delivered within a timeframe in line with the customer’s expectations.


Mining’s accelerated move toward digital solutions since the outbreak the Covid-19 pandemic is being supported by FLSmidth’s decades of research and development.

Terence Osborn, FLSmidth’s director of product and account management for sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, highlights that R&D is the lifeblood of the company’s new technologies. So much so, that it has some 80 projects underway to improve its mining-related offerings.

“The power of digital technology is certainly a key element of these efforts,” says Osborn. “Together with our Blue Box digital concept, based on our ECS/ControlCenter™, which is a cybersecure interface between our equipment and cloud data storage, we use our SiteConnect™ mobile app to monitor the performance of equipment and process plants in real time. The ECS/ControlCenter™ V8 process control platform sits at the heart of our digital vision, a key component in our growing portfolio of digital solutions and services that we call ENABLR.”

An example of this applied capability is an FLSmidth REFLUX® Classifier modular plant operating on a South African mine. Using SiteConnect, operations managers can have real-time access to over a hundred operational parameters on the plant. Data analytics linked to the cloud data can also generate time-based trends for instant viewing on the app.

“We have also developed SmartCyclone™  technology for our hydrocyclones,” Osborn notes. “This innovation uses sensors to detect wear and roping, a condition that reduces separation efficiency. By sending an alert when certain operating parameters are breached, the system ensures optimal efficiency is maintained, even as slurry conditions in the circuit vary.”

He highlights that the company’s machine-level solutions are offered as part of plant and process  packages. At both plant and process level, there is also FLSmidth’s advanced ECS/ProcessExpert®  solutions, which facilitate not just monitoring and control, but advanced optimisation enabled by state-of-the-art AI technologies.

“It is important to remember that control systems need to be flexible, so that they adapt to customers’ needs and to their existing systems,” he says. “With FLSmidth’s depth of expertise in software engineering and machine control, we can ensure that our machine-level systems connect with all market leading control systems – to seamlessly deliver the data that mines need for effective decision-making.” The company’s R&D pushes the boundaries of performance in a range of mineral processing fields. These include advancing its lamella plate technology in mineral separation applications, adapting its vertical roller mill for dry grinding in mining, and extending wear life of pumps with new polymers.


Automated laboratory leader FLSmidth has had its Operate and Maintain (O&M) contract at the Saldanha Iron Ore Terminal on South Africa’s west coast renewed for another three years.

The company has successfully operated the quality control laboratory at Saldanha – Africa’s largest iron ore export facility – for the past eight years, according to Martin Matthysen, Director, SPA (sampling, preparation and analysis), Sub Saharan African and Middle East at FLSmidth.

“An average of approximately 8500 tonnes of iron ore per hour pass by conveyor from the rail head to the ship during loading,” says Matthysen. “Our automated laboratory located above the conveyor must sample and test from this ore stream, delivering accurate and precise data timeously to stakeholders.”

He says the automated system installed by FLSmidth for a leading iron ore producer takes a representative sample of the ore and processes it though the laboratory with minimal human intervention. It is the only laboratory with ISO 17025 accreditation for the iron ore sector, complying with standards ISO 9516 for chemical analysis, ISO 4701 for particle size determination, ISO 3087 for moisture analysis, ISO 11536 for loss of ignition analysis and ISO3082 for sampling.

“Operational quality and stringent standards are vital in this process, as both the seller and the buyer of the ore must be confident that test results on the shipment are accurate and precise,” he says. “The laboratory analyses the material’s chemical composition, particle size, moisture content and loss of ignition levels – as these indicators all impact on the final price of the product.”

The accuracy of results is further checked by participating in a proficiency testing scheme as well as ‘round robin’ analysis – in which samples are verified by laboratories selected by end-customers elsewhere in the country and world.

“We are pleased to have delivered exemplary past performance at Saldanha, in service of our client’s best interests and efficient operation,” he says. “Our ongoing focus on quality has also ensured that we remain compliant with all-important ISO standards in our daily processes.”

He adds that the automated laboratory’s ability to deliver reliable and accurate results as quickly as it does, is also a vital benefit to the client.


Optimising customers’ production and maximising their return on investment is the ongoing mission of the well-resourced FLSmidth’s warehousing facility in Stormill, west of Johannesburg.

According to Derek Lane, operations manager at FLSmidth, continued investment in the facility over the past decade has kept it at the leading edge of customer service. Today, it has grown to 10,500 m2 under roof and 1,660 m2 under crane, with dual lifting capacity of up to 40 tonnes.

“We have technical capability across FLSmidth’s range of KREBS® slurry pumps, cyclones and valves,” says Lane, “allowing us to service customers through sub-Saharan Africa and into the Middle East.”

Meeting customer needs is paramount, and the operation has a strong focus on stocking strategic parts to facilitate the rapid assembly of new product. In addition to this, and central to the pump operation, is also the efficient refurbishment and retrofitting of equipment. Supporting the customer drive for lowest total cost of ownership, the Stormill facility also stocks a range of service exchange units assisting mines to maintain uptime.

Strategic stocking is done on the full range of KREBS pumps from the UMD™ heavy duty, millMAX™, split casing slurryMAX™, gravelMAX™ and vMAX™ range, all of which feature a recessed impeller design allowing the pumps to run dry. In addition, Technequip™ valves are stocked in a variety of sizes, both flanged and wafer type.

“Our workshop and warehousing capacity equip us to respond quickly to customers in various regions of Africa and beyond,” he says. “This is critical in helping maintain their operational uptime while keeping costs down.”

The quality of the FLSmidth’s KREBS pump range also allows them to be offered to customers on a trial basis. Trial pumps can be run against time or tonnage targets to ensure that they exceed the performance of existing equipment, says service manager Martin Jones.

“The service component in these trials includes a dedicated service technician who visits site for checking and fine-tuning during the trial,” says Jones. “This level of technical on-site collaboration from our teams allows operational parameters to be closely monitored and refinements made to specific performance requirements.”

An important cornerstone of FLSmidth’s customer support strategy is closely aligned with the operational drive by mines to achieve the lowest operating costs possible. Jones says that by providing a range of service support options  for all new products supplied, the company is able to add value to mine sites. Within South Africa, service support options include regular visits by service technicians to site, as well as  more intensive levels of service in the form of Bespoke maintenance contracts, and field service support teams operating in strategic locations.

“Some customers request a period of commissioning assistance, for example, and we can provide experts on site for as long as the customer requests them,” he says.

Lane highlights the importance of regular and correct maintenance of equipment to minimise lifecycle costs and maximise productivity. To meet this goal, FLSmidth conducts customised training on request for customers. This could be focused on hands-on maintenance staff dealing with essential day-to-day maintenance. It is also available for higher-level staff such plant engineers, on topics such as product selection. The training can even be delivered in different languages, suited to the region.

The large stockholding of spares at Stormill for pumps, cyclones and valves is based on historical and forecasted customer consumption. Key customers also hold strategic consignment stocks at their sites. These are currently located in Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania, as well as with an agent in South Africa’s Northern Cape province.

“This allows us to have the stock as close to the customer as possible, to optimise availability,” he says.

He emphasises that all the Stormill facility’s activity is strictly governed by recognised international standards. The operation is certified with ISO 9001 for quality, ISO 14001 for environmental management and OSHAS 18001 for safety and health.


FLSmidth’s innovative nextSTEP™ flotation technology is proving itself in the South African mineral processing space.

According to Ricus van Reenen, Regional Product Line Manager – Separation at FLSmidth, the nextSTEP™ rotor and stator combination has been at work for over a year at a large South African platinum mine, achieving positive results.

“The customer has achieved significantly lower power consumption on the full-scale retrofits we installed early in 2018,” says van Reenen. “The more efficient design allows the same or higher slurry circulation at reduced rotor speed, leading to lower power draw.”

The retrofits have been applied to both primary and secondary flotation applications, where energy savings of over 10% have been achieved. Years of research and development have been invested in the nextSTEP™ technology, which was originally launched in 2015.

Among the key design elements are the addition of slots to the stator, adjustments in the rotor profile and a parallel distance between the rotor and stator.

“Energy dissipation is now more uniform than in traditional forced-air designs,” van Reenen says. “This means a more even wear pattern across the rotor and stator, and therefore longer intervals between maintenance.”

In the South African installations, the wear on the rotors and stators has been minimal after more than a year’s operation. In the one flotation cell, the equipment has been operational for 15 months. The thickness of the rotor has reduced from 65 mm to only 60 mm, and the stator from 75 mm to 70 mm. After 13 months of operation in the second installation, the wear is even less. The rotor’s thickness has reduced from 65 mm to 63 mm, while the stator was down from 75 mm to 73 mm.

Van Reenen highlights that there have been other benefits experienced by local users of the new technology. Among these has been 16 to 18% less blower air usage, with more concentrated bubble formation.

“Better turbulence energy dissipation around the rotor and stator region, with its related finer bubble size distribution, creates more surface area for bubble-particle attachment,” says van Reenen. “This has delivered more froth and a higher mass pull on our local units.”

The success of the nextSTEP™ technology has led to further retrofits being planned in South Africa, which is in line with FLSmidth’s drive to promote mines’ productivity and performance. Van Reenen says the intensive R&D process continues apace and is not just in the rotor and stator design but also includes areas such as smart control systems and continued digitalisation of process solutions.


Trials of FLSmidth’s FerroCer® modular impact wear panels will soon begin in Africa, following successful trials in countries such as Australia, Peru and India, where significant increases in wear life were recorded. Tests will be conducted on sites in Zambia and Mozambique.

According to Zwerus Voges, Ceramic & Wear Solutions Specialist at FLSmidth, the innovative FerroCer panels represent a significant breakthrough in materials technology. The cost effective solution provides much better wear life than conventional panels and also delivers safety benefits to mine operators.

“The design of the panel takes advantage of the wear characteristics of multiple materials, and its matrix combines the strength and malleability of steel with the abrasion resistance of ceramics,” Voges says.

Each panel weighs only 5kg and can easily be handled by one person, meeting all the safety regulations for size and weight. The compact shape also makes the panels safe and easy to install using standard hand tools.

Voges says that the panels have delivered longer wear life in various applications which has meant increased uptime for customer operations.

FerroCer impact wear panels are particularly suited to high impact wear locations in a process plant, and these include chutes, hoppers, bins, feed boxes and vibrating screen boxes as well as reclaimer and loader buckets.

The panels have excelled in nickel, gold, copper and zinc applications, and Voges cites an example where FerroCer impact wear panels provided a solution in a tripper chute application. At this mining operation the previous panels in use were having to be replaced every three to four weeks, resulting in increased unplanned shutdowns with associated costs.

“Since the FerroCer panels were installed over a year ago, not a single panel has had to be replaced in that application,” he says.

Based on the success of the original FerroCer panel design, FLSmidth recently developed the FerroCer® 22 product for lighter applications where the material size is smaller. The larger ceramic surface area coverage on the panel reduces wear on the steel matrix. These panels weight only 2,8kg.

All panels are secured by just one bolt and nut, and no scaffolding or cranage is required. This enhances the safety and health of workers during installation, while speeding up the process.

The compact size of the FerroCer panels also makes it easier to replace just the worn panels. This is a major advantage, especially where wear patterns are uneven and not all the panels in an installation require replacement.

Voges highlights that the cone shape of the ceramic inserts enhances their resilience. It also means that the panel wears more slowly over time, as the surface area of ceramic insert widens as it wears.

“The much longer wear life being achieved by the FerroCer panels translates into reduced total cost of ownership, which is a primary driver across all commodity sectors,” Voges concludes.


FLSmidth has relocated the manufacturing of its core screen media products to the modernised Delmas Supercenter facility, providing a cost-effective base from which to grow its sub-Saharan markets.

“The targeted efficiency improvements for the production lines at the facility will allow us to better serve our extensive installed base of FLSmidth equipment in the sub-Saharan Africa and Middle East region,” says Stephan Kruger, FLSmidth Director for Manufacturing and Warehousing in the region.

This follows the 2017 decision by FLSmidth – a leading supplier of equipment and services to the global mining and cement industries – to proceed with a significant investment at the 120,000m2 premises in Delmas.

In line with this strategy, FLSmidth has opted to focus on the in-house manufacture of three core product lines – polyurethane, wedge wire, and ceramic wear solutions.

FLSmidth concluded the sale of its non-core screen media product lines, including woven wire screens, perforated plate and wire conveyor belts, to Crusher Support Services. During this process, FLSmidth secured a preferential supply agreement to support local industry customers with the continued supply of these products.

The transaction has also preserved 79 jobs in the manufacturing sector, retaining a considerable production capacity within the country. Thirty of the employees have been relocated to the FLSmidth Delmas operation.

“We have invested in state-of-the-art equipment, including full Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining capability,” says Kruger. “The new facilities include 5-axis and 6-axis machining centres, introducing a high level of technology to support the product lines in our business while optimising production costs.”

The investment in production capacity will allow FLSmidth to manufacture a broader range of components for its spare parts portfolio in-house, and to do this more cost effectively.

Design and construction activities began in 2018 and the infrastructure development is nearing completion. A formal launch is planned for April, when the facility will be fully functional and production will have commenced.

This Supercenter is strategically positioned close to customers and has the capabilities for warehousing, production of FLSmidth equipment and spare parts, refurbishments, rebuilds and retrofits. Current manufacturing activities produce over 150 strategically selected parts for the FLSmidth product range,” says Kruger.

The wedge wire screens to be produced at the facility are commonly used in carbon recovery in carbon-in-pulp (CIP) and carbon-in-leach (CIL) plants in the gold sector. They are also used for dewatering and magnetite recovery in the coal sector and in other applications such as water filtration and sugar production.

The polyurethane products include screen panels and larger spares such as rotors and stators used in the flotation process. Ceramic wear solutions to be produced and distributed from the Delmas facility include the WEAR MAX™ ceramic wear compound and FerroCer® impact wear panels, which combine steel and ceramic parts and are commonly used in feed chutes to address impact and abrasion.

The impressive Delmas operation includes a 10,500m2 workshop with 120-tonne lifting capacity and 11,5m under crane hook. More than 100 staff members are currently employed at the facility. It hosts modern offices, warehouse facilities and a dedicated training centre that can accommodate up to 65 people for technical training purposes.


The SAGwise™ total process control solution for semi-autogenous (SAG) mills – developed by FLSmidth – promises effective SAG mill optimisation with lower energy consumption and wear part costs.

Winston Mokoena, key account manager at FLSmidth, highlights that the solution reduces critical impacts inside the mill by up to 45%. This adds life to wear liners and grinding balls, helping to prolong liner life between maintenance and giving mills more uptime.

“SAGwise can improve mill production by 6% and substantially reduce process variability,” says Mokoena. “This ensures that the mill provides a constant and optimal feed to the next stage of the process, effectively facilitating better performance of downstream operations.”

Among the challenges that mill optimisation tries to address is too little material in the mill, or too much. Too little leads to critical impacts between the grinding media and the mill liners, damaging both elements without producing value. If the mill is over-filled with mined material, on the other hand, this results in grinding inefficiencies.

The SAGwise system uses four or eight unidirectional or bidirectional audio sensors located in close proximity to the mill, which detect the analogue sounds and convert them into digital signals for analysis by a processing unit. This unit uses the sound patterns and other process variables to determine the necessary adjustment to the mill’s feed, speed and pulp density. So direct are the improvements that can be achieved by this solution that customers can pay back their investment in less than six months, depending on the commodity value and the specific mill environment.

“The parameters that are monitored by SAGwise include the mill’s power consumption, load impacts, mill load and pulp density,” he says. “The system then responds to these parameters by controlling the mill speed, the feed rate and the water to achieve the ‘sweet spot’ where the mill runs at optimum efficiency.”