German-based STEINERT is a world-leading provider of magnetic and sensor-based sorting equipment that operates both in the resource recovery and recycling industry, as well as in the mining sector throughout Australia and Asia. During a recent interview The ASIA Miner’s editor John Miller found out from STEINERT Australia’s managing director Johan van Zyl what makes the company a success in this part of the world.

How does STEINERT serve the mining industry in Asia and Australia?

In Asia this is done through our Australian operations. STEINERT Australia has the mandate to sell STEINERT products throughout South East and Northern Asia, except China. This is predominantly carried out through a network of qualified agents and supported by attending conferences throughout the region with the aim of growing our activity.

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STEINERT Australia’s managing director Johan van Zyl (left) and business development manager Kurt Palmer at IFAT in Germany in 2016 with some of the latest sensor sorting technologies on display.

Although success in Asia is varied, we enjoy a strong market in Indonesia where we have been consistently selling a range of magnets. There is also strong interest for sensor sorting equipment in the mining industries of the Philippines and Mongolia.

We have recently become the Australian agent for HAZEMAG and allmineral while our Mongolian representative is also the agent for these two companies. There is a lot of synergy between the three companies and we believe this will lead to greater service for our clients.

In Australia, we make use of agents, such as Sanwest in Perth, which has been serving the magnetic industry in the west for more than 30 years by distributing STEINERT tramp metal magnets.

The new STEINERT ore sorting products are generating strong interest in Australia but due to the high-tech nature of this equipment we find it is more beneficial to have direct relationships with our customers.

Are there any growth plans?

Currently, we carry out all test work for customers from our facility in Melbourne but the next stage is to set up a full test plant in Perth to service the large mining industry in the west. We are in negotiations for the installation of a facility and by the middle of 2017 we expect to have a fully operational test lab in Perth.

We believe Western Australia will be the strongest growth area for of this type of equipment. The gold industry is hot at the moment and we need to be able to position ourselves more effectively to respond to our customer’s requirements.

The cooperation with allmineral has enabled us to expedite this move because it has given us an immediate presence and a good grounding to grow our presence along with our testing capability in WA.

What is your role in supporting the company in this region?

As managing director my task is to manage STEINERT Australia as an independent company while being part of the STEINERT group. The mandate in this region is to grow the presence of sensor sorting and the high-tech newer products developed by the group.

We have had products from the magnetic separation side of the business for a long time and in Australia we use these to create baseline turnover, giving us a strong foundation from which to grow. This enables us to bring other products into the market with relative ease and minimal outlay. Business was really good during the mining boom, especially with baseline products, but now that the industry is back to pre-mining boom levels, the focus has shifted to new products that allow for optimisation.

How important is the Asia Pacific for STEINERT?

The region is important for STEINERT as a global company but we believe it will be even more important in the long term. We realise that in Asia the ore sorting and resource recovery industries where our technology is being utilised are less mature than in other regions, like Australia. Population growth, industrialisation and urbanisation in Asia will mean that these industries will become more important in the future.

At present cost is a major factor for mining companies in Asia when it comes to equipment and services but as these countries mature, more companies will realise that premium products provide greater value for money and drive greater productivity.

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STEINERT’s self-cleaning magnets are used throughout South East Asia.
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STEINERT’s ore sorting equipment is also available as mobile and modular solutions.

How has STEINERT survived the downturn and how will it play a role in any revival?

The downturn has been tough for everyone. Like many others we grew rapidly through the mining boom but when the downturn came it hit hard and we scaled down operations, which meant reducing staffing levels. However, we have been able to continue supplying a baseline of products that the industry needs. The downturn did not necessarily mean there was a reduction in the production of coal, iron ore and other minerals, but it saw the end of an investment cycle.

With some of our traditional products, there has still been a need for upgrades. Some equipment has been in use for 25 years and has reached the end of its life, resulting in the need for replacement.

We have also formed synergies with like-minded companies that play on the same field, such as HAZEMAG and allmineral.

The effect is that we reduce combined overheads by sharing resources, facilities and people. In the end it brings down overall costs, which also reduces the cost of goods sold to customers. It also allows us to have a larger presence in industries where we have not previously been represented. For example, STEINERT’s equipment is predominantly used in the mining industry and in resource recovery while HAZEMAG crushers are predominantly used in the quarry industry.

The cooperation will allow us to provide customers with a more complete range of product as well as faster and more efficient after sales service.

How does the mining industry need to change to lessen the impact of future downturns?

A lot of people talk about innovation, yet they are afraid of implementing something new. Innovation can bring advantages but it needs to be proven on site and be financially viable. If you have technology available that can improve or lower the cost of the operation, make it safer or reduce overheads, this is the way to go.

How important is innovation to STEINERT?

STEINERT is at the forefront through our commitment to innovation and development. We are constantly developing and upgrading our machines. For example, in 2011 we supplied a sensor sorter and two years later, by upgrading the computer processing capability, we were able to double the throughput on the same machine.

A further development has been the ability to combine the signals from different sensors into the same algorithms which allow and/or decisions to be made where something may have to satisfy two or three criteria before a decision is made on whether it is a product or not. This is particularly of interest to customers with ore bodies that were previously not amenable to sensor sorting. Innovation therefore allows STEINERT to continually develop new opportunities and possibilities for our customers.

What are the new directions the company is taking?

We are bringing more products on board to be able to offer a wider range of services to customers, such as the range of HAZEMAG equipment, including impact crushers. At this stage this does not include underground mining equipment but we aim to have that as part of our suite in the future.

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Gold is one of the types of ore that can be sorted utilising STEINERT equipment.

What is the role of STEINERT in developing the concept of waste to energy?

STEINERT sees multiple opportunities when considering waste to energy in Australia. Firstly, an active waste to energy sector increases recovery of valuable resources and the material being used to convert to energy generally requires some form of contamination removal prior to the end process. Both these activities foster investment in sorting technology.

Is this concept being taken up in Asia and Australia?

Markets throughout Asia and Australia are very different owing to the varying ways in which the respective waste sectors have developed. For example, Singapore has a very mature waste to energy industry, from collection through to generation, with a large portion of the electricity already being generated by waste to energy facilities under strict guidelines and standards. Thailand has little or no formal waste collection so the waste to energy sector is much slower and is currently focused on industrial applications like cement kilns.

Australia, on the other hand, has a mature waste collection industry and strong waste to energy regulations and standards but little in the way of active facilities. It is still very much in the infancy stage and this is probably driven by the fact that for many years Australia has had access to relatively cheap coal and hydroelectricity as well as cheap landfill for waste. With the closing of coal-fired power stations and rising landfill costs, waste to energy will start to become more attractive and more cost effective.

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