At a time when the mining industry is cutting high
expenditure projects and putting less lucrative ventures on
hold, technology providers are finding it increasingly
difficult to convince companies to invest in new technologies
– even when these could save businesses money in the
Speaking with IM on the
sidelines of SME 2015, Dr Uwe Konig, product manager for
PANalytical said that greener technology is a hot topic in
Europe, owing to increased regulation in the region as well as
an increase in reporting and transparency.
"It is difficult, however, to get companies to
adopt new technology to address this. Mining companies are
conservative – elemental analysis is common so
it’s in all the mines, but technology like
near-infrared spectroscopy (NIR) or X-ray diffraction (XRD)
face big entry barriers," Konig said.
The company’s handheld infrared
technology, the ASD TerraSpec Halo, enables geologists in the
field to literally point and click to analyse samples in less
than 20 seconds, providing on-screen results of up to four
minerals contained in a sample.
PANalytical also provides XRD technology, which
allows for the analysis of phase composition of rocks, ores and
mining process-related products.
According to Konig, both of these technologies
allow for better, faster analysis and offer both energy and
cost savings. "We still need to convince customers that it will
save them money in the long run though," he told
"It is very difficult to gain insight into the
numbers representing actual savings. We need to analyse samples
in order to be able to do that, but some companies
don’t like to give out samples for competitive
reasons," Konig added.
He outlined that the most effective strategy to
persuade a mining company adopt a new technology is to go
directly to the company and work together on projects from
scratch, proving the technology’s effectiveness
and letting the customer recognise the benefits.
Although this may seem like a long term strategy,
PANalytical has already had success in the cement and aluminium
sectors. "But even once a company is convinced of a technology,
right now budget is an issue. However, we are looking at the
current mining depression as an advantage – it gives
us time to promote and convince so that when the time is right
the technology can be adopted."
PANalytical has also had success in the
fertiliser industry, where recently a complete automation for
elemental X-ray fluoresecence (XRF) and mineralogical (XRD)
analysis of phosphates was purchased by a large European
The same technology can also be used for the
analysis of potash and various salts.
Although different sectors are recovering at
different rates – for example copper is expected to
see a recovery before the end of 2015 – Konig believes
that the future for PANalytical’s products also
lies in niche markets, such as the process control in lithium
and rare earths mining.