Optimising mineral recovery from existing production streams has never been more important than it is now – as the world struggles to maintain normalcy while it continues to operate in ‘safe mode’ to protect against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Weak commodity prices are exacerbating the situation further. Reagent solution specialist Axis House has been improving mining companies’ valuable metals recovery for decades, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and offers a variety of specialised solutions designed to quickly and efficiently optimise productivity, MD JUSTINE STUBBS tells LAURA CORNISH.
“Clients need support, even in a slow market environment, which the industry finds itself in at present as commodity prices sit uncomfortably low. Nonetheless, Axis House is committed to the DRC, and other territories, and our door remains open to effectively service the industry,” Stubbs starts.
“Attending to customer needs, whether small, medium or large operations, comes first. And thanks to well-established local offices in Lubumbashi and Kolwezi, with experienced metallurgists, we remain able to offer quick response times and specialised products in-country,” she continues.
Axis House’s diversified products range is also extensive – covering flotation, solid-liquid separation, solvent extraction, electro-winning and precipitation – meaning that solutions and products are applied to the entire minerals process chain, giving the company a far wider catchment area than some of its competitors.
Keeping the DRC a top priority
“We have always believed that a specialised reagent suite that caters specifically to each individual operation is effective in increasing metal recovery and quality and this will remain our focus during the next 12 to 24 months through onsite and laboratory test work.
“Apart from continuing to improve the valuable metal recoveries, a large focus will also be directed to reduce impurities in final concentrates with new Axis House products or through optimising the application of existing products,” Stubbs outlines.
Read more about mining in central Africa
With such a strong presence in the DRC, the region remains a top priority for the company, where in addition to supporting its mining partners’ copper and cobalt processes, it has achieved significant success with its gold reagent range and improved flocculants and coagulants.
Other recent work in the country includes solid-liquid separation in copper-cobalt processes – by taking a systematic approach in identifying the optimum flocculation product. This resulted in more efficient separation as well as lower flocculant consumptions.
“Apart from the superior product, the onsite technical support and efficient logistics led to improved underflow densities, better overflow clarities and a 27% reduction in consumption,” Stubbs highlights.
Read more about Axis House
Axis House’s success in the DRC can also be attributed to the investment it has made into anchoring itself properly in the region, which it did in the very early stages of its establishment.
“This demonstrates our exceptional willingness to go the extra mile for our clients. We have a team with genuine interest in our clients’ output and performance.
“Coupled with this we have an extremely keen commercial team and a very talented technical team in the country which gives our clients reassurance that whatever the problem, we will support them fully,” Stubbs outlines.
“Never fearing the DRC’s constantly changing rules and regulations in the area has seen us adapt to ensure we remain in close vicinity to the end-user,” she continues.
Breaking big into a wide spectrum of commodities, and regions
While Axis House specialises in copper and cobalt metal recovery (which equates to its strong presence in the DRC), the company has made big strides in delivering similar results in other sectors, including polymetallic ores (copper-lead-zinc) and industrial mineral flotation (rare earths, feldspar and phosphates).
The company’s gold reagent range, 4 Gold, was successfully trialled and applied at a gold operation in South Africa about 12 months back. These products are now in use at other operations in Ghana and also the DRC.
“Multiple projects are also taking place on flotation of PGMs in South Africa, aimed at improving PGM recovery and reducing gangue contaminants in the final concentrate,” Stubbs notes.
The company is also working closely with a new exploration project in Portugal where Axis House reagents are being applied to recover lead carbonate and tin oxide from a new ore deposit.
“We are consequently in the process of developing a reagent suite to maximise the grade and recovery from this deposit,” Stubbs reveals.
The work Axis House is currently delivering in Portugal demonstrates the company’s mid to long-term objectives – to grow in new territories. It opened an office in Turkey some 12 months back which is servicing North Africa and the Middle East.
“Europe is also a fairly new market for us and with our recent success in Spain, Portugal and a few other countries we should be seeing an increase in our team there very soon. All this leads to exciting development work and the strong potential to grow our product range,” Stubbs concludes.