Thinking global and acting local has allowed FLSmidth to build its Africa footprint as a springboard for its productivity-driven digitalisation strategy. With a firm local manufacturing base in South Africa, the company’s subsidiary in Ghana is also gathering momentum for a greater role in West Africa.
Leveraging the fast-moving world of digital technology, the company is driving efficiency across the mining sector in Africa – and West Africa is among the key focal areas.
According to Deon de Kock, FLSmidth President for Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and South Asia, the company’s MissionZero philosophy means that its productivity innovations must also reduce mines’ environmental footprint. Using less water and energy, while generating lower carbon emissions, are fundamental steps in the journey towards the flowsheet of the future.
“Our development of significant game changing technologies includes our REFLUX Flotation Cell (RFC), High Pressure Grinding Rolls (HPGRs), filtration and dry-stacked tailings,” says De Kock. “Going forward, another focus for us will be in-pit crushing and conveying (IPCC) for new mines, to replace diesel powered transport for mined ore.”
This value-engineering requires close proximity to, and collaboration with, customers, one of the factors behind the establishment of the company’s fully-fledged subsidiary in Ghana in 2017. This presence enhances local skills transfer and capacity building – vital elements that support the local application of the latest technology, says the company’s General Manager in Ghana, Joseph Appiah-Kubi. His team of 13 local people mainly service the gold mining sector in the region, including in countries like Mali and Guinea.
“This local base improves the quality of our sales, service and maintenance function, and our capability also allows us to execute projects and commission equipment,” says Appiah-Kubi. “We have to date managed consignment stock for customers, but have now secured 2 000m2 of open warehouse facility and invested heavily in spare parts – enhancing our offering to customers in the region.”
The company’s business in Ghana will share its expertise with learning institutions. He notes that the company is exploring partnership opportunities with the University of Mines and Technology in Tarkwa, which has provided much of the skills base currently deployed in the region’s mining sector. The office’s growth strategy also includes a graduate programme to empower Ghanaians and transfer skills, providing opportunities in the sector to young graduates.
“This year we have had our first cohort of graduates working with us as part of the government’s compulsory National Service Scheme,” he says. “We will also be receiving our first cohort of graduate trainees – those who have finished one year at service engineering school and are coming to us to learn.”
FLSmidth’s strong West African presence has positive spin-offs for the rest of its global operations too, says Alistair McKay, FLSmidth Vice-President for Mining in Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and South Asia.
“Ghana is blessed with a strong mining culture and has a great pool of experience in mining and processing,” says McKay. “This strong skills base allows FLSmidth to share our experts across the region – deploying them where they are most required as projects demand. We are committed to building these skills for our own ranks as well as for the broader economies in West Africa.”
The company has long-established manufacturing facilities in South Africa, as well as a rebuild and servicing capability. This local capability has always been a cornerstone of its success here, says De Kock, enabling the levels of responsiveness that customers expect while developing capacity and skills in the local economy.
“We employ almost 600 people in manufacturing activities in South Africa alone, contributing directly to the beneficiation of the country’s natural resources,” he says. “This manufacturing base, which includes our 13 000m2 Supercentre facility in Delmas, also allows us to export to customers globally.”