FLSmidth was platinum sponsor of the Raw Materials Summit 2023, Europe’s most important raw materials event. FLSmidth is the leading supplier of flowsheet technology and services for the global mining and cement industries. With their MissionZero programme, they have set a target of providing solutions for zero-emission mining and zero-emission cement production by 2030, supporting a green transition built upon sustainable materials.
Joshua Meyer, EVP for Mining Service at FLSmidth was a speaker at the panel “Why Europe must embrace the return of Raw Materials.” and in this interview he explains why the RawMaterials Summit is so important and how FLSmidth is ensuring sustainable practice within the raw materials sector.
Why is a Raw Materials Summit in Europe important?
Critical raw materials are key enablers for the green transition overall. We simply can’t say it too often.
A summit like this facilitates discussions and creates this needed awareness. It shows how important Europe’s investments and technologies are to ensure the most sustainable and resilient practices within mining for these critically needed materials.
What were the reasons for becoming a Platinum Sponsor of the Raw Materials Summit 2023?
As a technology provider to the global mining industry, we have a responsibility, hence our commitment to enable zero emission mining by 2030 – focusing on water, energy and emissions. We see an urgency to engage all stakeholders of the entire raw materials value chain including policymakers, researchers, and investors to civil societies across Europe and beyond.
The Raw Materials Summit offers a platform for important discussions, collaborations, and partnerships with a wide cross-section of stakeholders, and we want to support that.
You were a speaker on the panel “Why Europe must embrace the return of Raw Materials.” How and in what ways must Europe change?
Europe is not a big mining continent today. It is the only part of the world where mining has declined. But Europe has an undisputed technology leadership in mining processing technologies. As technology is a key enabler of sustainable mining, Europe can lead by example and promote best practice globally. This in turn should contribute to improve the overall perception and acceptance of mining.
Finally, something is happening in Europe with the proposal for a CRM Act, but huge and urgent efforts are needed to overturn decades of underinvestment and public disenchantment. We need to promote mining in Europe using our own technologies and demonstrate the benefits this industry can bring to society. We need to ensure best practices and standards are implemented globally. No doubt, we need to recycle more and we need to find alternatives, but considering the scale in demand increase, more mining globally is inevitable, and we have a responsibility and interest in helping meet the demand in the most sustainable way possible.
How does FLSmidth ensure sustainable practices within the raw materials industry?
Nearly four years ago, we set ourselves a clear ambition, deliver solutions that make it possible to manage zero-emissions, zero water and energy waste mining processes by 2030. We call it MissionZero. Achieving this requires a paradigm shift in collaboration, innovation, and adoption of new technology in the industries. The good news is that many solutions already exist, and we can demonstrate concrete examples where they have been successfully implemented.
Towards zero emissions: Diesel-powered mining vehicles account for anywhere from 30-80% of direct emissions at a mine site. Crushing ore in the pit and substituting truck fleets with continuous material transportation on belt conveyors powered with electric drives, known as in-pit crushing and conveying (IPCC), can significantly reduce both GHG and dust emissions. We have seen IPCC cases where GHG emissions have been reduced by more than 100,000 tonnes of CO2e per year, which corresponds to the annual emissions of about 22,000 gasoline-powered cars in the US.
Towards zero energy waste: With comminution consuming over 30% of a mine’s total energy consumption, the potential for energy savings in this area is significant. The inefficiencies of the typical grinding circuit can be addressed through the employment of a low-impact grinding circuit, with a focus on high-pressure grinding rolls (HPGR) that are designed to achieve the same results with the lowest possible impact on the environment. A circuit incorporating HPGR technology can deliver power savings of 20-30% (vs traditional griding circuits). The latest generation of high-pressure grinding rolls (HPGR pro) takes the HPGR savings even further with up to 20% increased throughput and 15% less energy consumption compared.
Towards zero water waste: Miners are often looking to reduce the risks that can come with wet tailings such as dam failures. Dam failures are a major cause of environmental disasters. These risks and consequences can be reduced by cutting the amount of water stored within the tailings. Filtering and dry stacking tailings reduces environmental impact and water demand, and significantly decreases the footprint of the tailings storage facility. Up to 95% of valuable process water can be recovered through dry stack tailings solutions. This is particularly important as a significant number of mines are located in high water-stress regions.
What are the most important steps the raw materials industry in Europe must undertake to meet the demands of the green transition?
There is no doubt the industry is committed and working on becoming more sustainable but no one can do it on its own. We, at FLSmidth, have a leading role to play as a full flowsheet technology supplier for the metals and minerals essential for the green transition (e.g. copper, lithium, zinc, nickel, etc)
Our commitment is clear, enable zero emission mining by 2030. Achieving this requires partnerships.
One pre- condition is that we share information. We must agree to share the performance data and hereby clarify the absolute emissions from each step in the mining process. And share what the relative energy per tonnes of output is. Only with that in place, we can identify the real pain points on the mining sites, set clear plans on what to improve, and what technologies are available.
What are your key takeaways from the Raw Materials Summit 2023?
Public awareness is growing. Innovation is happening. Governments are building plans to attract investments. But the proactive involvement of the key users of critical raw materials (such as the renewable energy and automotive industry) remains too low. This needs to change as they have a key role in transforming their value chains. Similarly, civil society is not sufficiently engaged. We need them in.
We were proud to represent FLSmidth and our #MissionZero ambition and solutions at the Raw Materials Summit 2023. Achieving our global green transformation objectives is pure fantasy without significant change and acceleration in the production of mineral raw materials. Technology allows us to do that without compromising on near-term and localised sustainability. This is what we are committed to support.
You can read more about FLSmidth’s sustainability ambition here: Sustainable and Commercially Competitive Mining (flsmidth.com)