“Africa is a hugely diverse region in so many ways. Culture, economics, politics, infrastructure, legal systems – a bit like its ore deposits, no two things are the same between countries,” says Nicodemus Mautsa, Senior Application Specialist at Kemira. “The continent’s vast mineral resources are a huge draw for mining companies of all sizes, both local and international. Our job is to help customers do their job efficiently, safely, and profitably,” Nico emphasizes.
The customers Kemira serves across Africa are mining a wide variety of different minerals, including copper, cobalt, gold, platinum, uranium, zinc, and lead. Kemira focuses on hydrometallurgy, an intensive water-based process where our product offering meets customer’s needs. “Our customers face what I call a ‘cocktail of challenges’,” explains Nico. “In addition to poor road infrastructure in some regions, recycling process water is a constant issue especially in dry and hot regions where water is scarce and evaporates from tailings storage facilities. Secondly, due to deteriorating ore quality, plants have often had to increase throughput beyond plant design capacity in order to meet mineral production targets, and this naturally means they are using more water,” Nico continues.
“Sourcing water from municipal supplies is expensive, and there are costs associated with treating water that is to be discharged into the environment,” highlights Nico. “In addition to all this, fluctuating global metal prices mean mining companies are under constant pressure to minimize their operational costs.”
There’s always a new challenge to solve, whether familiar or unfamiliar, and this is why I love what I do.
Kemira has built a reputation as the preferred partner across the African mining industry. “Perhaps more important than the chemistries we have to offer is understanding what drives our customers’ businesses, understand their objectives and operational challenges. That puts us in a much better position to provide bespoke solutions that help them achieve their goals.”
Kemira’s chemical process solutions help customers to make huge savings by improving dewatering of solids in thickeners and filtration and recover more water and soluble minerals. “As a chemical supplier, you might think we would always be looking to maximize the amount of chemicals we sell. In actual fact, our primary goal is always to provide value driven solutions to our customers, we want to help them cut costs at every available opportunity by providing chemical solutions and expertise that help them to optimize their processes and improve mineral recovery,” Nico highlights.
In the diverse and exciting market that Nico and his team serve, collaboration is king. “Collaboration is at the core of everything we do and the reason why we have built such strong relationships with customers across Africa,” Nico says. Kemira’s team serving African mining customers is supported by six technical sales and application personnel, the majority of whom are based in Africa.
“When we’re working on a solution for a customer, I collaborate with their technical teams and our application development team to come up with a proposal that’s feasible and which meets the customer’s needs. I’m also in contact with our product managers and R&D teams in case we need to come up with something new, as well as coordinating with our sales team to make sure we deliver a solution that adds value all round,” Nico continues.
Nico firmly believes that it is this collaborative and proactive approach that sets Kemira apart in the African mining market. “Because we have intimate knowledge of our customers’ operations and key productivity drivers, we can proactively approach them with ready solutions and improvement suggestions. We’re also able to maintain a constant dialog with key decision makers about how to support them with things like changes in ore quality, ramping up throughput, or adjusting their process flow.”