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Mining companies forced to recycle belts for environment

ENVIROMENTAL pressures from the community and government agencies have resulted in many mining companies re-evaluating their environmental standards, including the acceptance of reconditioning conveyer belts.

An estimated 80,000 metres of conveyor belts are either stock-piled or dumped in WA, with

this increasing by at least 10,000 metres annually.

BHP and Robe River Mining are two companies that have jumped at the opportunity to recycle their conveyor belts using new tech-nology adopted by Nilos Australia at its Jandakot factory.

Nilos Australia is backed by Germany company Nilos GmbH, local venture capital group Foundation Capital and conveyor maintenance company G&F Beltline.

The company is able to recondition about 400 metres of belt, weighing about 30 tonnes, each week using specialised vul-canising press technology.

The company operates 24 hours a day, employing 14 staff to maximise the use of the plant.

Nilos managing director Henning Volzke said that, with largely fixed costs, the profit bottom line would only improve if the plant was used to its full potential. He said plans were already in place to expand the $4.5 million plant to double its

capacity within the next two years.

The plant already looks like achieving a $2.5 million turnover for the year

Mr Volzke is now holding talks with other mining groups, including Alcoa and Hamersley Iron, which would provide a huge boost to Nilos Australia as well as provide savings of up to 30 per cent for the miners.

“It is a win-win situation for mining companies. Its good for the hip-pocket and its good for pubic relations as well as the environment,” Mr Volzke said.

He said the practice of refurbishing or retreading the conveyer belts had been normal in his home country of Germany for years, but in Australia mining companies were more hesitant in changing their way of doing things.

And the mining companies have not been the only ones unwilling to support the new concept. Bank lenders considered the venture too risky to back, although Mr Volzke said their tune had changed somewhat now he has some runs on the board.

“Being a new business it was very difficult for us to attract funds because the banks were not interested,” he said.

This led Mr Volzke to seek out venture capital, resulting in a partnership with Foundation Capital, which has provided running capital for the business.

“I’m very happy with the involvement. With Foundation Capital we get really top strategic management expertise,” he said.

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