While unit cost of consumables in the mining industry is often the primary driver for buying decisions, taking a partnership approach typically results in lower total cost of ownership and significant improvements on many fronts. Elastomers Australia’s JASON CLIFFORD explains. 

As The saying goes, it’s not what you’ve got but how you use it.

To be fair, it’s usually a combination of both. But there’s little point having the best new toys if you don’t know what to do with them, or conversely in having the cheapest option available if it can’t deliver the desired results.

The key for operators is to work in partnership with suppliers to ensure products are fit for purpose and utilised in the best possible way to optimise performance.

For Elastomers Australia and our clients, we’ve learned over the years about the value of taking a partnership approach. By getting that right, the outcomes are safer, more productive and highly efficient screening operations. And that, in turn, has a major positive impact on the bottom line.

Across the mining industry, whatever the commodity, there has been a significant shift over the past 10 or 15 years in the way processing is carried out.

Because every lump of coal, iron ore, gold, copper or any number of other minerals pass through a screening process, revenue is dependent on that process being as effective and efficient as possible.

Operators have moved from a “just do it” approach focused on pumping tonnes through at any cost, to one driven by precision engineering and constant evaluation to ensure the best yields, minimal downtime and an ability to adjust as necessary when ore characteristics inevitably change.

Screen media, which was once considered a one-size-fits-all consumable, is integral to that focus. And that means taking a tailored approach, continually evaluating wear and effectiveness, and making adjustments as necessary to maintain optimum yield.

For our clients, those outcomes are the result of working with Elastomers Australia’s Business Solutions specialists and onsite service teams.

At every shutdown, we work with onsite processing teams to measure and evaluate wear, determine whether aperture size is suited to current ore characteristics, and collect data that’s proving invaluable to inform our decisions over time.

That typically results in all stakeholders knowing exactly what’s required well before the next shutdown. The ongoing data collection, which includes measuring aperture size to 0.1mm accuracy, also allows our innovation and engineering teams to continually improve and tailor products to improve wear life, enhance accuracy and extend the time between shutdowns.

Every organisation – and every individual within those organisations – may be focused on different outcomes, so it is important for our teams to understand all the different motivators and drivers for success.

The other factor that leads to ongoing success is consistency.

Ensuring our teams remain at the same sites over time allows them to develop far greater understanding of operations and the people they are working alongside, which results in more efficient servicing, direct lines of communication with the client and Elastomers teams, and clear understanding of safety requirements.

Over time, the partnership approach – coupled with our independence from screen OEMs – has helped shift client thinking when it comes to screen media. While once it was very much an afterthought and often came in the form of generic add-ons provided by screen equipment manufacturers, Elastomers Australia is increasingly approached to consult as early as the feasibility stage for new processing plants.

Ultimately, it’s about developing and maintaining trusted relationships with clients.

The partnership approach has allowed us to demonstrate the value of screen media as far more than upfront unit cost. Every day we’re helping clients drastically reduce their total cost of ownership and generate bottom line improvements that often equate to millions of dollars.

Jason Clifford is Elastomers Australia’s Business Solutions Manager – East Coast


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