Xore from Skellefteå is breaking new ground abroad

Continuously analysing the ore and water mixture - the slurry - in a concentrator plant is important for process control – technology is coming from Skellefteå that is at the global cutting edge. The Xore company has been around for ten years and is beginning to be accepted by a somewhat conservative mining industry, which is discovering new opportunities in their technology.

"During the first half of the year, right in the midst of the corona pandemic, more quotation requests poured in than we have ever had," says Mikael Normark, CEO.

The name Xore is a mixture of X-ray and ore, but it also contains a play on words that people in code circles might be able to figure out.

"We tried to be a bit smart and understood that it raises some questions when we talk to customers around the world, but it’s a fun way to break the ice,” says Mikael.

Together with co-owner Walter Rönnblom, he started the company in 2011. The original technology has existed at Boliden Mineral AB since the 1980s, but for various reasons they wanted to refine their operations and there was no room for the Boxray analysers.

A request was made to the contractor Walter Rönnblom, who worked for Boliden, who brought Mikael Normark on board. A business plan was drawn up in which a new company was set up, completely outside Boliden, which does not have ownership or influence, and eventually a solution was negotiated.

"Things have gone well during these years; we have experienced both better and poorer times and right now, just like everyone else, we do not know where this is going. However, we are pleased with the amount of requests and quotations that have come in at a pace that we have not experienced before. After all, it takes time for marketing to take hold internationally," says Mikael.

Right from the start, the aim was to grow beyond Sweden's borders. 2018 was a groundbreaking year.

"The first few years are about working on product management efforts and setting up an international plan. To be seen and accepted, you must show up in different contexts over time. Few dare to buy from the upstart – because that's what we are – and for that it takes a brave buyer,” he says.


Gains for the environment and the wallet

You could say that there has been something of a breakthrough in the Russian Federation. In 2019, we got a foothold in Kazakhstan and there is potential there in many large mining companies that are in need of new technology that can take the processing of ore to new levels.

"We have come in with good contacts right away that have helped us move forward after targeted work. Kazakhstan is open to alternatives to the big dragons that are our competitors. Metal prices have risen and the degree of automation in the concentrator plants is low, so there is a lot for them to gain with our technology," says Mikael.

Xore's challenge is to find a market that has good potential in terms of size but also has not locked itself into established solutions. South America is an example of a gigantic market but which is also very developed and which in many cases is held by large competitors.

"On the other hand, we want to promote ourselves as the most technologically prominent solution for the analysis technique itself," says Mikael.

Xore has refined Boliden's technology and now has two models – Boxray 24 and Boxray Compact. The analysers’ strength is to optimise the analysis process, so that is both faster and more accurate than the competition. The concentrator plants need to know how much metal there is in the mixture of ore and water, known as slurry, in order to optimise the quantity of energy and additives in the process chain. An energy-intensive industry can thus save a lot of money – while at the same time extracting as much as possible from the ore.

"This means that the earth's resources are used in the most optimal way possible. If you waste ore deposits and under-optimise the process, this is obviously not good environmentally and if too much energy is used, this is of course not good either. With our technology, the environmental part goes hand in hand with the financial instead of competing as it does in some industries," says Mikael.


Speed and quality

A Xore reference customer had too low a metal content in its final product, the metal concentrate, for any smelting plant to buy it. But then investing in Xore's analyser turned everything around overnight.

"Things got better as if they had waved a magic wand. From having large sums in expenses every month, they could suddenly make money every month because the concentrate could now be sold. This is the kind of potential we are talking about, even if not all customers can show numbers like these," says Mikael.

As more and more people in the mining industry seek automated solutions, time also becomes a factor and that plays right into Xore’s hands. Their technology makes measurement two to three times faster without sacrificing precision. The larger analyser also has the sophistication that each sample stream has its own path from primary sampling to the analyser, which means that the samples are never contaminated.

"Speed and quality are our strongest cards and they are great value-raisers for the customer," says Mikael.

There are four employees in Skellefteå, handling development, service and maintenance.

"We outsource most of the manufacturing to subcontractors here in Skellefteå and the surrounding area. We want to grow into more markets around the world but also find more products for the mining industry. Everyone wants more automation, which means that more instruments are needed," says Mikael.


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