Sept/Oct 2016

Editor's letter

Gravitational forces

By Ryan Bergen

Ryan BergenWith fall approaching, you can feel the mining supply sector shifting on its axis as all the big “iron” rolls into Las Vegas for Minexpo. The buzz of product previews and launches has reached an uncommonly high pitch and it is hard not to get swept up in the excitement surrounding the trade show.

At the previous Minexpo in 2012, the industry had only just crested its peak and the preoccupation at the time was with “moving tons.” Equipment was scaling up and designs were on the table for bigger blasts, bigger haulers and bigger plants. Notably, the world’s largest high pressure grinding roll (HPGR) that Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco details in our section on open pit mining was initially ordered from Metso in 2011. While Metso’s competitors now offer similarly sized units, today the demand is just not there, and the installation’s “world’s largest” status remains unchallenged.

Over the last few years the focus has shifted to flexibility and agility. Modular designs are attracting attention, and comminution equipment such as stirred mills, and modest-sized HPGRs continue to work their way into processing flowsheets. The innovation which has recently made itself most visible on the trade show floors has been the unmanned aerial vehicle, as miners quickly discovered the many uses these remarkably small flying machines have around an operation or an exploration camp.

With this issue, we step back from the trends to explore a more fundamental advance in mining technology – the gathering effort to create the necessary space for innovation through common standards and open platforms – in our cover story, “Systems in sync,” also penned by the industrious Ms. Lopez-Pacheco. Four years ago, the Global Mining Standards and Guidelines Group, whose raison d’etre is to allow such collaboration to happen took advantage of the pull Minexpo has to hold its first general meeting in Las Vegas. Since then, the group has drawn many of the biggest names in mining and equipment manufacturing to the project. While we have not yet felt the effects of these efforts, the Las Vegas odds are that they too have the power to upset the orbit of the mining industry.

Ryan Bergen

Eating our young

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