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XPS engineers a better bottom line

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Dominic Fragomeni, Director XPS. Photo courtesy of: KCI Corporation.

Dominic Fragomeni, Director XPS. Photo courtesy of: KCI Corporation.

Extracting metal from rock at a profit takes technical expertise, energy, resources, perseverance and an understanding of the financial drivers of the business.

XPS Consulting & Testwork Services helps harness all these resources for mining/metallurgical operations, exploration companies, junior miners and consultants in more than 25 countries around the world. With a staff of 45 people, including 25 engineers, based in Falconbridge, XPS designs and optimizes processes and equipment that miners use to produce metals.

“We work with the operators and project teams to reduce costs of production and increase the recoveries of the metals that improve the bottom line margins,” says XPS director Dominic Fragomeni. As metallurgical and chemical engineers with many years of experience, XPS, eXpert Process Solutions can help companies grow and improve profitability.

“We deliver economic value,” Fragomeni says. “We have extensive plant experience, know what works and what doesn’t and always offer value for money.”

With its mineral processing and mineralogical analysis, XPS can assist exploration companies when their first piece of drill core comes out of the ground.

XPS engineers can help design a processing plant, improve performance of operating plants and assist with plant maintenance and equipment life. XPS can implement process control strategies that optimize metal recovery and reduce costs in mines, mills, smelters and refineries.

The company can even help shut down a mining facility once a mineral resource has been exhausted. “The full life cycle of an operation, from cradle to grave, so to speak, ” says Fragomeni, a professional engineer with 28 years of mineral processing operations and management experience.

“XPS has state of the art mineralogical and analysis equipment that can find simple solutions to very complex problems, define process change and test and evaluate the economic impact of the change,” says the director. “We’re practical and we’re very knowledgeable on the way operations run because every one of us have had a significant amount of experience running plants and working in operations.” This practical experience is essential to the plant startup and commissioning assistance offered through its integrated plant support group.

XPS originated as the research lab for Falconbridge Ltd., a Sudbury basin nickel miner since 1929. Falconbridge built and funded a state of the art technology centre employing some of the world’s best engineers and lab techicions working on internal corporate research.

“We inherited it all,” says Fragomeni. When Xstrata PLC, a Swiss-based international mining company, bought Falconbridge Ltd., it recognized the need for this type of expertise. Xstrata and now Glencore, which acquired Xstrata in 2013, insisted the centre become a business selling services to internal company clients and to anyone else willing to buy its services. Peter Johnston, Head of Glencore Global Ni Assets, says “Our operations attribute huge value in XPS and their technical capabilities”.

Since adopting this business model, an entrepreneurial philosophy and culture, XPS has diversified. While growing its expertise in nickel, copper, zinc and platinum group metal work, it has branched into gold, rare earth, chromite and potash markets. “We saw the opportunity,” says Fragomeni. “We all have experience in those markets.” While about half of its work continues to be done for Glencore, more than 50 per cent of XPS sales are to external clients.

One of those clients is the Lundin Mining Corporation. It opened Michigan’s first nickel mine last year when XPS tested the ore in its pilot plant and then helped to start up and commission the mill. “XPS added value to Eagle by offering firm and sound process advice at all the right times during the ramp-up period to help keep us out of the ditch,” says Lundin’s chief metallurgist Darby Stacey. “Having a team of experienced metallurgists available on call allowed our team here on site to avoid being burnt out from the efforts of commissioning and ramp-up. I would cringe going into another startup without their help.”

Torcastle Project Services Inc. president Colin Lindsay describes the specialist services provided by Fragomeni and XPS as top-quality. “I do not know of any facility that can combine the disciplines of mineral science and metallurgy with a strong overlay of high confidence methodology in the way that he and his colleagues can.”

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