Never has this been so important a concept in the mining industry.
We are all aware of the drastic downturn of 2015 and 2016, where new investment virtually dried up, and although 2017 began an upturn, it is abundantly clear that money is still very tight. Money in the bank earns interest, but money in a mining venture is dead until the first minerals flow or gold is poured. Nay, not just dead, but flowing progressively into a hole.
We also know that the number of new projects being brought on-line is decreasing and in some mineral sectors nothing has come forward to replace the natural run down as others run out.
It is therefore no surprise that there is an urgency to bring some development life back into the industry. Taken with the lack of appetite even in formal circles to fund the traditional ‘long cycle’ projects that there is talk of fast track. Into the mix must also be thrown the realization that mining is a risk business, and mitigating that risk costs money and time on a proportionate scale.
As happened with the graphite market, and appears to be happening with the lithium market, there are people entering the industry who are more nimble-footed and by the time the long cycle has ground through it’s process, others have moved in and filled the supply gap in the interim. This can only result in oversupply or depressed prices as everybody tries to sell their commodities.
All taken together it is clear that the old model is less and less attractive. Enter the new aspirants who talk months, not years, and reap their rewards to reinvest. Risk will always be there, but by earlier entry at a more modest scale and at a more appropriate time the exposure will also always be less. All service branches of our industry, being geological, mining engineering or processing are cottoning on to the need for a shorter cycle. The age of super powerful computers, remote sensing, and better predictive models are all available to compress timeframes with little if any loss in efficacy of the work performed. Charging thousands of hours when the task can take hours is more and more an archaic and unpalatable concept. So too is APT acutely aware of the need to compress plant design construction and commissioning time. Our library of plant designs, now at over 140, and the large array of modular options means that not only are plants available far quicker, but they are more tried and tested too.
What the industry is not fully aware of is that these principles apply to larger projects too, up to about 150 tonnes per hour so far. Obviously the mega projects will always be there and it is well acknowledged that they take more time, but to lumber the more modest projects with the same yolk is nothing short of wasteful.
Part of a consignment of 1800 cubic metres of APT TriTanks, with a completed 500 cubic metre tank.