Sika offers the mining industry a range of solutions to improve costs and raise safety standards at mines all over the world.
It’s a cold February morning at the Hagerbach testing gallery in Switzerland. Slowly the sun is coming out from hiding behind the snow clouds that have been covering the eastern Swiss Alps for days. We are entering the underground testing facility, which is part-owned by Sika and is used for material and equipment testing for mines and tunnels all over the globe.
Sika personnel from across the world have gathered for a week of extensive training in injection systems, fiber-reinforced shotcrete, Aliva spraying equipment, and coatings and floors for mining as well as to learn more about a newly developed product line for the repair of conveyor belts in the mining industry.
Global demand for resources
Copper for every day electronic equipment and housing, zinc to galvanize the steel produced from billions of tons of iron ore, lead to fuel batteries for new, green cars, uranium and coal to power the industrial engines of Asian and other economies, and last but not least the gold and silver demanded by a newly emerging middle class in Asia and people that did not trust the new established world order.
“What can’t be grown needs to be mined”
“What can’t be grown needs to be mined” is the slogan of Sika’s latest mining brochure. This sums up the industry perfectly. It draws on non-renewable resources, and over the decades the good quality mineral deposits have been mined out and most have long since disappeared. In order to profitably mine the lower quality deposits that remain more and more material needs to be processed. This strategy, which economists also call “economies of scale”, has had very dramatic consequences on the costs that mining companies have been facing during the last ten years.
As commodity prices rose, so did costs. A shortage of qualified mining labor, growing demand for energy, higher equipment costs, and the ever-increasing capital intensity of new, large mining projects all had detrimental implications for the profitability of mining companies. Today, a large copper mine in the Chilean, Peruvian or Argentinian Andes costs anything from 1 to 5 billion dollars. These projects are among mankind’s largest industrial undertakings, entailing an extremely high degree of complexity both from a technical and a socio-ecological point of view.
Underground construction excellence
Sika can offer the mining industry a range of solutions to improve costs and raise safety standards at mines all over the world. Sika’s people and products have provided decades of underground construction excellence to the global mining industry. Our values and standards are being carried deep underground into mines in all corners of the world. For this to happen, Sika employees from numerous countries have come together during this cold February week to learn more about the industry that they will be confronted with today and in the future.