Friday, 24 January 2020
Reinhardt Viljoen, Group Manager Metallurgy MMG: Event Write Up

Reinhardt Viljoen, Group Manager Metallurgy MMG: Event Write Up

On 30th March 2017 in Melbourne, Victoria, Austmine was delighted to be joined by Reinhardt Viljoen, Group Manager Metallurgy at MMG for our first Smart Mining networking event in Melbourne for 2017. The event was sponsored by Donhad and Scantech.

Starting his career in South Africa, Reinhardt Viljoen has an extensive background in international mining working in a variety of operation and production roles with the aim of pursuing cost effective results. 

Reinhardt came to Australia to work on BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam project, enjoying 8 years working in various operational roles including becoming the General Manager of surface operations. Using this extensive knowledge, he then joined Glencore as the CTO before moving to MMG as part of their Technical Services group. 

With a brief look at some of the history of innovation Reinhardt reminded us of some of the hard technology advances that have come with continuous innovation. These advances have only been possible where they occur in a supportive environment. 

For example, the minerals were first milled by hammer, moving onto stamp mills and for almost a century innovation was limited to building bigger and better stamp mills. Today we have the Ball Mill and the SAG mill to name but a few. These mills are highly efficient and computer controlled to gain the optimum result. 

The first cyclones were described in journals at early as 1914 yet it was not until 1959 that they were used to process coal and today we have multi stage cyclones being used throughout the industry for mineral extraction. 

Another example of how long it takes to innovate and accept technology is Electrowinning or Solvent winning of materials. The technology had been around for over 100 years but it was not until 1960 that it was deployed in a heap leach operation. This required perseverance and patience. 

All these innovations had one thing in common. They were vital to the success of the business as Innovation is vital to success of mining companies today, as ore grades are reducing and deposits are getting deeper. 

Innovation in today’s market must meet a specific need, while also improving safety. To deliver this, you must have dedicated people, and commitment of management. This helps to create a culture of Innovation and change, where team members feel free to put forward ideas and try new things. To create the culture MMG lives its values. 

  • We think safety first
  • We respect each other
  • We work together
  • We do what we say
  • We want to do better. 

Without living these values, we just have technology. Technology on its own is not enough and does not create the advantage. Knowing how to use it and having the culture of innovation is where the advantage is. 

Einstein, said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I would spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about the solution”. This inspiration along with MMG’s values create the culture and environment for Innovation. 
MMG is using Scantech’s “geosan” monitor grade and blend materials which provide a constant and stable feed to the processing which in turn improves reagent usage. 

Another example Reinhardt highlighted, was of a tire scrubber that was used to break down clay lump and concentrate allowing the elimination of larger particles which tend to be barren and consume larger quantities of acid. By examining the problem and working in an environment of innovation culture MMG have not only improved acid and reagent usage but they have plants working at or above name plate capacity with stable consumptions of energy and inputs. 

MMG drive to do better, safely. Through developing its operations and its people, and supporting development with the aim to maximise throughput, logistics and production. Future developments will be looking at remote operations and autonomous operations to improve the safety of all employees, the community and the environment. To achieve this full potential of the innovation and technology MMG need its people to have passion and drive, and a culture to support this.  

Austmine members can download Reinhardt’s full presentation via the Member self-service portal to see all of the details on this, or contact us for further notes from the event.

This article was written but Austmine’s Business Advisor, Dale Thompson who is a part of our Entrepreneurs’ Program. Austmine's Business Advisers help ensure businesses get the advice and support they need to improve their competitiveness and productivity. The primary focus is on providing access to the best advice and networks to solve their problems, as well as access to financial assistance. There is no cost associated with the business review they will provide you. To learn more about this program and to find out if your business can participate, please email Dale.Thompson@Austmine.com.au

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