Industry News: Mining

Beneath the surface – mining expertise across continents

With thriving projects across multiple materials and continents, KLINGER mining experts know that success lies just beneath the surface.

Because mining often takes place in remote, sparsely populated regions of the world, it may seem “out of sight, out of mind” to the casual observer. Yet KLINGER understands what an essential role it plays in daily life: mining is a global business, with operations on every continent except Antarctica. Mined substances are used in every sector, from energy to aerospace, from telecom to healthcare. Mines power our cell phones and vehicles, fuel our homes and businesses, and fertilize our crops.

Top view of a mining plant

Contacts mentioned in the article:

André Goosen, Business Unit Director of KLINGER South Africa and Americas

Reinaldo Luzco Abalos, Business Development Mining Manager of KLINGER Argentina

Alberto Pinter, Managing Director of KLINGER Argentina

The Platinum City and beyond

One of the world’s foremost mining regions is South Africa, where the city of Rustenburg is known as “Platinum City” for its dominating platinum reserves, accounting for over 70% of global production. Other common minerals in the region include palladium, rhodium, chromite, and copper. Mexico and Peru are home to vast supplies of gold, copper, and silver, while Argentina is a major source for lithium carbonate. According to Alberto Pinter, Managing Director of KLINGER Argentina, the global need for lithium is only expected to grow:

“It’s used extensively for electromobility. Cars and mobile phones use a high percentage of the lithium consumed. It is said that is the future.”

Alberto Pinter, Managing Director of KLINGER Argentina.

As electric vehicles increase their market share both through popular demand and through environmentally focused legislation, lithium is poised to play a key role in the automotive industry.

Among other things, these everyday objects contain the light metal lithium. ©KLINGER Holding GmbH

KLINGER’s innovative solutions for mining challenges

The mining process is notoriously hard on the equipment it uses. Physical friction or chemical solutions are used to extract the desired minerals from the surrounding earth, creating a suspension of irregular solids within a liquid.

“Often the slurries contain elements of aggressive media, so they are both corrosive and abrasive. We need valves that can handle those severe applications.”

André Goosen, Business Unit Director Africa & Americas at KLINGER Group

The following KLINGER products are particularly suitable for hardening applications:

  • knife gate valves
  • butterfly valves
  • ball valves
  • and piston valves are all popular for these purposes, and each offer a variety of customizations intended to handle a wide range of media.

Special alloys, elastomeric coatings, and PTFE coatings are all common options available to tailor KLINGER valves to the level of rigor required for each application. A variety of gasket materials offer further customization to ensure leak-tight seals throughout the system.

Mining in extreme conditions

The remote areas and harsh conditions that surround many mining locations present their own set of issues. André notes, “Some of the mines are in extremely inhospitable areas, extremely difficult to reach. You can drive 14 hours on a dirt road to reach them. You can imagine how difficult it is to get provisions.” The large diameter products needed for these applications are bulky and heavy, requiring careful procurement, planning, and shipping to arrive on time and intact. The elevation of some mines further complicates the installation and service process, as Reinaldo Luzco Abalos, Business Development Manager Mining of KLINGER Argentina, shares: “Our mining companies are located at 4000 meters above sea level. We have less oxygen, we have dry weather, the wind gets up to 100 kilometers per hour.”

Deep within the earth's crust: KLINGER's advanced mining technology facilitating efficient extraction in a modern mining operation. ©Adobe Stock

Investment in local expertise

One way KLINGER meets the needs of the mining industry is to hire from within the mining communities themselves. While it’s important to have industry experts who understand the process and materials, it’s also necessary to understand the indigenous culture and the needs specific to each region. As André explains, “Two colleagues from Mexico who have just come on board are from those communities. They understand the culture, the politics, the industry, the hardships.” Reinaldo agrees, stating:

“We have to get involved to understand the struggles of the customer. We have to stay with the customer to achieve our goals.”

Reinaldo Luzco Abalos, Business Development Manager Mining of KLINGER Argentina, was hired directly from the mining industry.

Weather, water and power availability, political unrest, and logistics are just a few of the aspects that determine the viability of mining in each specific region.

Fact Box

Mexico: a mining powerhouse

Mexico’s mining industry is a top global contributor across multiple minerals:
1st place: 21.8% of the world’s silver
6th place: 29.4% of the world’s gold
9th place: 26.2% of the world’s copper

Sustainability in mining

Sustainable practices and services are another way by which KLINGER seeks to improve the mining industry and the communities it serves. Water quality and scarcity is an issue in many regions, while preventing contamination and pollution has long been a focus for the industry as well. “Our approach to the mining industry includes expanding our offering of services, not just products. The multinational mining companies are all very aware of their social responsibility. How can we help them meet that goal? How can we make their plants safer, more emission friendly, to prevent leaks that could end up in water sources? Our services help to achieve that goal,” André says. KLINGER services such as flange face machining, gland packing, and joint integrity programs are proven programs that help mines to keep up with maintenance and catch fugitive emissions, minimizing the risk of leaks.

Preventing contamination and pollution has long been a focus for the mining industry. ©Pexels-Pixabay

Full life cycle approach in the mining industry

As the world pushes for more environmentally friendly energy practices, the mining industry will continue to evolve. Different minerals will grow and shrink in popularity, requiring updated extraction methods and new valve materials to keep up with the unique chemistry of each one. Alberto muses, “It's a challenge for us, it's not new, but it's a change in the mindset.” Repurposing materials common in other sectors, such as titanium and HDPE (high-density polyethylene), is breathing new life into the custom options available for mining pipelines. KLINGER is focusing on a full life cycle service model, ensuring that environmental safety and employee safety are top priorities.

Fact box

Did you know ...

  • ... the largest lithium deposit in Europe is located on the Koralpe in Austria?
  • ... the melting point of platinum is at 1,768°C (3,214.4 °F), which is significantly higher than that of gold or silver?
  • ... three billion tons of minerals are required to keep global warming below 2°C by the year 2100. According to a report by the World Bank Group, minerals and metals are indispensable. The demand for minerals – especially graphite, lithium, and cobalt – is expected to increase by almost 500 percent by 2050.
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