With 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.
Eating our young