Ivan Jovanović, Mining Business Director South-East Europe, FLSmidth

Mining’s Future Is Digital

FLSmidth is a leading supplier of sustainable productivity to the global mining industry. We deliver engineering, equipment and service solutions that enable customers to improve performance, drive down costs and reduce their environmental impact

The future of mining is about sustainability and digitisation. FLSmidth is a company that believes that digitisation and automation are central to sustainable mining, as they allow mines to use fewer resources, such as energy and water, and to reduce emissions.

Economic growth and urbanisation drive the ever increasing demand for minerals, especially specific, non-renewable resources that must be used rationally. Can existing known reserves satisfy those needs?

We are seeing factors, such as population growth, a growing middle class and increasing urbanisation, driving the need for mining. The green transition is putting even more pressure on miners to deliver minerals needed for wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles, refrigeration and other electronics. Electric vehicles contain metals like copper, lithium and cobalt, and they require four to five times more copper than a combustion engine vehicle.

But it is true to say that a transition to renewable energy sources is only possible with an increase in mining and a rise in the recycling of minerals. But that is, of course, possible.

It is how we get there that can be challenging. Mining must deliver more minerals but in a less resource-intensive manner. Our response has been the MissionZero ambition, where we set a goal to collaborate with our customers and partners to work towards zero emissions, zero water waste and zero energy waste by 2030.

Europe is a key area for FLSmidth: it makes up 19% of our revenue and is a region where we see significant growth

Could you tell us more about your company’s position and role in the mining industries of Serbia, Europe and the world?

Our operations span the globe and our close to 10,700 employees are present in more than 60 countries. Europe is a key area for FLSmidth: it makes up 19% of our revenue and is a region where we see significant growth. In Serbia we are long term partners of the two biggest mining operators and have worked with them on many significant projects, especially over the last five years. To be the trusted partner of the biggest miners is proof of our strong presence in this market and our position as a key OEM for mining equipment. It also shows our strong commitment to supporting Serbia in transforming its mining operation to be safer, more environmentally friendly and sustainably productive.

Considering the aspects of digitisation and sustainability, how do you see the future of mining?

Digital already gives operators more control over operations and availability. But the real value will arrive with fully interconnected data over the full mine’s flow sheet and even beyond. What will then be available is an uninterrupted stream of data and processes that can be flexible enough to self-optimise and self-adapt to changing conditions in real-time, or close to real-time.

Around 20 international companies currently operate in Serbia. What do we have to thank for the expansion of mining activities?

Significant growth and expansion has come from the Law on Mining and Geological Explorations that came into effect a few years ago. This has been the base for a lot of the current activities of major miners in Serbia. The second factor is the strong commitment of the government to the mining sector.

The share of mining in Serbia’s GDP is 1.9%, while the intention is to raise this further to 3.5-4% over the next three years. This is a clear signal to mining operators that they will have full support related to local legislation and approvals. We will be there to help them with our market-leading engineering, equipment and service solutions that improve productivity and throughput, whilst minimising the environmental footprint.

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