Risk and reward
Evert Lessing, Vice President Research, Technology
and Development, Pumps at Metso, believes the
next technology developments around pumps
could be cultivated through stronger partnerships
between OEMs and mining companies.
In this regard, the company’s Life Cycle Services
(LCS) contracts could play a part in the OEM’s
future innovation blueprints.
“That is more and more where the market is
going to go; a risk sharing exercise where the
OEMs are taking on a bit more risk, potentially
with a bit of reward at the end of it,” he told IM.
Metso’s LCS contracts are customisable and
focus on either customers’ specific goals or
developing a partnership based on continuous
improvement and optimisation.
It is the latter that Lessing believes will provide
the right environment for new technology
developments for not only that specific customer,
but the wider mining industry.
“This risk and reward relationship is a healthy
way to stimulate innovation in the mining sector,”
he said. “If you are carrying some of that risk as
an OEM, it really becomes incumbent on you to
push the development of new technology from
Digitalisation could help these efforts,
according to Lessing, providing the necessary
tools to improve uptime and process efficiency
within mining pump applications.
“At this stage in the pump area, there has not
been much done on digitalisation,” he said.
“Everybody can ultimately see some value in
these digital tools, but the ways to generate this
value have not been forthcoming.”
Instead of providing condition monitoring
covering elements such as vibration and
lubrication, for example, the industry needs to
move into much more insightful predictive
maintenance capabilities to find this value,
according to Lessing.
“To the best of my knowledge, no-one has
really cracked that yet (on a commercial scale),”
This comes back to the company’s LCS
contracts and the risk and reward relationship
“We, at Metso, will be pushing hard to use
digitalisation to enable us to better understand
the environment the pump is working in, the
maintenance cycles, the various duties, etc,” he
said. “That will assist us in actually de-risking our
part of the services contract.”
This could lead to not only being able to
diagnose problems ahead of time, but also
developing pumps that eradicate these problems
from the off.
Obviously, there will be benefits to the
customers – issuing alarms ahead of critical
events, notifying them of potential optimisation
opportunities, etc – but real-time data analysis
would prove more beneficial to the OEM,
according to Lessing.
Metso already has a platform ready and waiting
for such analysis with Metso Metrics.
This system, currently available on Metso's
primary gyratory crushers, cone crushers and
vibrating screens, pulls real-time data from
equipment and creates a digital twin in the cloud.
In its most sophisticated form, Metso Metrics
uses machine-learning algorithms and artificial
intelligence to detect and predict failures.
Lessing, who only joined Metso in February,
said Metso Metrics provides the digital platform
the pumps business area needs to create the
value proposition he spoke of.
“Every business unit in Metso is responsible for
generating their own instrumentation to measure
the data and the smarts of how to carry out the
predictive maintenance, but then you have a
common infrastructure,” he said. “That
infrastructure and capability is already
established, and you can tap into it.”
Incorporated within Metso’s digital platform is
the capability to check on wears and spares
inventory too, ensuring the supply chain is
monitored constantly for any upcoming
component replacement or repairs.
This common platform and digitalisation
capability could be even more valuable should
Metso and Outotec merge, as expected (pending
approvals), later this year.
Lessing explained: “Where Metso has been
viewed as a traditional product
manufacturer/supplier, Outotec, by its very nature,
is a process company.
“I think you potentially have this perfect match
of process and product knowledge that, when
combined, could offer a complete digital package
looking at the whole process. I think that is
something customers will scream for.”
Metso customers should also brace themselves
for another addition to its MD line of mill
discharge pumps later this year. The company has
already sold nearly 200 of these rubber- or metallined
products and is looking to take more market
share with its newest pump.
In 2018, the company installed a pump test rig
at its facility in Sala, Sweden, equipped with a 2
MW motor allowing testing of its larger mill
discharge pumps. Testament to this is the recent
sale of a MDM700 pump to a customer in Russia.
With such capacity in place and many South
America-based copper concentrate producers
demanding large and powerful pumps for their
coarse feed material, Metso hopes its new metallined
MD pumps will be well received.
This new pump comes with a hydraulic design
that reduces wear on components and has a
bearing assembly frame that fits into existing
concentrator footprints, according to Lessing.
“The overall dimension envelope allows us to
retrofit into brownfields operations,” he said.
“That always becomes an issue when you look
to replace competitor pumps in this market
Smart water management
Jessy Parmar, Xylem Business Development
Manager, Industrial, thinks digital solutions offer
breakthrough opportunities to get smart about
mine water management by solving critical
challenges – operational efficiency, infrastructure
reliability, employee health and safety, and
As has been well documented, water is a
precious commodity that will continue to be in
demand in the coming decades, with investors
increasingly focused on how mining companies
are managing this resource.
“Similarly, sustainable practices are often at the
core of a mine operation’s licence to practice, and
this requirement for sustainability will only
increase,” Parmar said. “As resources diminish
and global focus on the environment intensifies, it
makes sense to harness the power of smart
technology to manage this finite resource as
efficiently as possible.”
Smart water management begins with a holistic
view of how mine operations use water, be it
sourcing, dewatering, treatment or reuse,
according to Xylem.
“Whether water is scarce or plentiful, we view
every step from intake to reuse as part of a
process, to help increase productivity, reduce
costs and turn mining water management from an
expense to a strategic advantage,” Parmar says.
“For example, pumps operating outside their
optimum efficiency range waste energy and are
subject to faster wear and shorter service life.
Pumps that are not compatible with the water’s
physical or chemical properties can be at risk of
premature failure, causing costly, unplanned
downtime. Or older pump hydraulic designs and
fixed-speed installations may consume far more
energy than the latest premium efficiency units
with variable frequency drives.”
An audit of a mine’s water management and
pumping systems can identify waste and operating
risks, valuable insight that will form the basis for a
program to optimise pumping efficiency – and, in
turn, increase productivity, reliability and
sustainability on site, according to Parmar.
Yet, every mining project presents its own
“Customised water management solutions
deliver better results including lower operating
costs, enhanced performance, minimised
environmental impact and long-term prosperity,”
Xylem’s team in Indiana, USA, for example,
developed a dewatering system for an
48 International Mining | JUNE 2020