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News Article

Optimized Grinding Media Use Enhances Productivity

Mon, 10/21/2013 - 13:49

The size, density and chemical composition of grinding media will determine its effectiveness, and the appropriate combination of these variables will vary according to the type of product being ground. Grinding balls are widely used for the processing of  minerals in the mining industry because of their ability to significantly speed up the grinding process, thus reducing the amount of time the equipment must be operating, saving on operating costs and maintenance. “These kinds of industrial inputs are essential for the mining process. The chemical compositions are the key to the strength of the products - different compositions provide different levels of durability, and can increase the lifetime of the balls. We can play with the components based on the features of the mineral our customers will be grinding,” explains Miguel Guerrero Elías, CEO of Proesmma, a Chihuahua-based company that supplies forged steel balls to be used as grinding media to mining companies in the region.

Proesmma is relatively young, having started out in 2008 with a contract for a major mining company. “We began by visiting the main mining companies here in Mexico and asking about their grinding needs, and understanding the importance of the product for overall mining operations is what allowed us to really establish ourselves in the area of steel ball supply. Another important factor that helped us is that we have a world-class company backing us up, which provides us with technical support and laboratory analysis,” says Guerrero Elías. This relationship allowed Proesmma to then go on and find the products that meet those needs, which in Guerrero Elías’s experience have been endurance and impact: “If a company uses less grinding media in order to maintain the same rate of milling, this will save a lot of money,” he points out.

The next job for Proesmma was to go out and sell. At the time there was a monopolistic market with only one or two forged steel ball suppliers, so Proesmma had to convince mining companies of the benefits that its products could offer. “The way we were able to gain their trust was by showing them how our product is made, the durability of the balls, and the chemical composition that confirms their quality” says Guerrero Elías. Proesmma has backed up this evidence of quality with a commitment to providing quantity. “It is a matter of being prepared and having different  diameters and components, such as carbon, chrome, molybdenum, and many other materials, the proportions of which we can play around with. It is then important to maintain a consistent flow of steel balls to feed the mills, because if the mills have to be stopped production will also be stopped, and that is something that mining companies cannot afford to let happen,” Guerrero Elías points out. Proesmma’s answer to preventing this problem is simple – on each order that is placed with the company it acquires a greater volume and stores the excess. The company also has its own transportation system, meaning that it does not need to rely on a third party to deliver its product to the customers. “This increases the speed and efficiency with which we can deliver our products. A company can call us in the morning and the product will have been delivered by the evening,” says Guerrero Elías.

Proesmma endeavors to maintain this level of service to its customers even beyond delivery. The company provides technical guidance to operators and managers at the mine, in order to provide them with an understanding of the product and the role that it plays in their operations. “We are constantly visiting our customers, training them and giving them a productivity certification, which helps to improve production and productivity in their operations,” says Guerrero Elías. This service was started because Proesmma identified that its customers could use improvements in certain areas that would boost their productivity. “We work very closely with the customer in order to understand how their operational departments are managed, and in order to be able to give recommendations to the leaders on how they can increase productivity,” explains Guerrero Elías. Being based in the northwest of the country, at the epicenter of the mining industry, has also positioned the company well to grow. “Chihuahua is the place to be. We are close to the top three mineral producing states in Mexico, and as such we are near the most important gold, silver and copper projects. Since we are located in the middle, we can easily cover the region from east to west,” says Guerrero Elías.

Guerrero Elías was also heavily involved in the founding of the state’s Mining Cluster, and through that role is working together with the Government of Chihuahua to introduce and develop new technologies that maximize the State’s industrial capacity. “Innovation is one of the main priorities today, since we understand that development goes hand in hand with technology,” he says. “In the end this is a production process, so it is very important to rely on the most innovative technologies in order to be as efficient as possible. There are some techniques in the grinding media process that need to be constantly innovated,” he says.