Q: How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact FIMSA’s operations and how did that change the company’s focus?
A: It impacted us as much as any other corporation. We were fortunate because none of our ongoing projects got canceled, they were just put on hold for four months and gradually came back on track. This allowed FIMSA to renew its activities and close 2020 with great numbers. On the other hand, 2021 was a much more difficult year. When companies realized that the pandemic was not going away, we started feeling the impact. Mining companies became more cautious and canceled several developments, which hit us more than in 2020. Exploration companies were simply not as comfortable to invest their money. Nonetheless, the political and economic situation in Mexico had a bigger impact than the pandemic did, as the current government is not very mining-friendly.
Q: Do you foresee an improved business environment in 2022?
A: Not really. I think the situation will be the same as in 2021, unless we see some changes on the Mexican political front because that is the primary reason why companies in the mining sector are cautious and unwilling to spend what they normally would in a regular year. Recent events, such as the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, also make it less likely that the market will pick up.
Q: What differentiates your company from others offering similar solutions?
A: This year, FIMSA will be 53 years old. Even though the company started out offering solutions for crushing and screening processes, it was mostly focused on small mines. Over time, we began expanding our equipment offering to accommodate large operations, including mineral processing, magnetic concentration and water treatment. We also started growing our business regarding material handling, which involves bulk material that can be transported on a conveyor belt.
Moreover, FIMSA constantly looks for new technologies and partners. We specialize in integration. Even though we do not build the actual machines, we partner with major global manufacturers and distribute their products. FIMSA imports its solutions to Mexico and integrates them into the crushing plant’s system. The company does all the steel work and manufactures the required structure.
One of our main differentiators is that we are a completely integrated company, which means that we work from a customer’s conceptual idea toward the actual project, using our own engineering department. Once we have a project on paper, we take it to our manufacturing facilities. FIMSA offers strong after-sales services, too. FIMSA installs and commissions the project and trains the personnel for operations and maintenance. Only a few companies in Mexico can offer such turnkey projects.
Q: What are some of the new technological offerings the company has introduced to the market?
A: FIMSA has been successfully working with South African magnetic equipment for some time now. These machines are primarily used for the iron ore sector, which has remained relatively unaffected by the pandemic or the political mining crisis in Mexico.
Right before the pandemic started, we were able to close a distribution deal with two other companies, for which we are now exclusive distributors. One is an Italian company called Matec Industries that is specialized in water treatment, especially filter presses. This is not a new technology but it is now applied to tailings. The industry is focused on environmental issues. Bad press would have the public believe that the mining industry pollutes and can even cause flooding tragedies, as recently happened in Brazil. This news travels, so the trend is to move from traditional slurry tailings storage towards dry tailings. Companies can transport dry tailings through a conventional conveyor system, and stack them on a pad, the same way its currently done for heap leaching, instead of using a slurry dam, then waiting years or decades for that dam to dry up. The new process begins with dry tailings, which is where the pressure filter technology comes in. The demand for this solution has been incredible.
The other company we started working with is an innovative German company called Steinert that focuses on Ore Sorting technology. It is a very advanced development in the industry, especially considering mining’s rather traditional mindset when it comes to new technologies. The company develops high-tech machines that, through the use of multiple sensors such as 3D Camera, Laser, Induction and X-Ray can sort any kind of ore (metallic and non-metallic), on an individual rock level and quickly detect if it has value. This represents a major shift in the industry, since only the ore that has value needs to be further processed down the line, greatly reducing capital expenditure, as well as saving valuable energy and water in the process.
Q: How is the company making mining a more responsible industry?
A: FIMSA partners with its customers on becoming more efficient resource managers. We first try to implement the most productive equipment at the lowest cost. Then, we focus on renewable resources, such as solutions that recycle water. At the end of the day, it all comes down to money: using less water translates to a cost-effective operation that requires less energy to obtain the same results.
Q: How Ho ow are you promoting these concepts so that they become accepted in the conservative mining market?
A: Companies need to be creative because many mines will never buy a big, expensive machine to see if it works. FIMSA can build a pilot plant, for example, for ore sorting technology. That plant can be used for several months to run tests and convince the client. We are also considering a portable pilot plant that we can take to different sites.
The company is also working towards building a testing lab in Mexico. Currently, all the ore and material that our clients want to test needs to be shipped to the US or Germany.
Q: What will FIMSA focus on for 2022?
A: FIMSA is focusing on its new technologies and distribution lines, despite the political situation and the unstable economy. After all, these are products that will help mining to become more productive and efficient. Even though operators are still cautious and skeptical about spending money on new projects, these solutions can be incorporated into their current mines. They do not need to make a big investment to do so and it will impact their bottom line positively: they are going to save a lot of money with this type of technology. By using a filter press, companies can also start working toward their sustainability goals.
FIMSA is a Mexican company dedicated to the design, production and installation of crushing, screening and material-handling systems in the construction, mining and recycling industries.