The first public showing from executives of the new Metso Outotec has highlighted just how big the new group will be within the mineral processing ecosystem.
Circa-15,000 employees, some 5,000 service representatives, around €4.2 billion ($4.7 billion) of sales in 2019…the stats are impressive.
The minerals sector dominates within this, representing 61% of 2019 sales.
It will cover everything from comminution through to tailings management, meaning the company will be able to touch most parts of the process not involving ‘mining’ itself.
Coming just a day after the merger was completed, Pekka Vauramo, President and CEO, and Eeva Sipilä, CFO and Deputy CEO, understandably did not go into too much detail on the webcast about what the year-long merger approval process had shown the executive team in terms of their initial cost synergy estimates. Investors will have to wait until August for more detail on that.
Last year when announcing the deal, the companies said they expected to achieve run-rate annual pre-tax cost synergies of at least €100 million and run-rate annual revenue synergies of at least €150 million.
Vauramo explained on the webcast that it was the services, minerals and consumables business areas where there was most overlap between the two entities.
But it appears there will be more than just cost advantages to the tie-up.
Vauramo said: “We are complementing each other’s offerings and activities so well that we have many cross-selling opportunities if we speak about what Outotec can do for Metso’s part and what Metso can do for Outotec’s part.”
Sipilä added to this, saying there were complementary areas within the services sector ripe for these type of synergies.
With such a huge offering, it is hard to pick out areas of focus for Metso Outotec, but sustainability has been front and centre for both Metso and Outotec in the recent past. Unsurprisingly, it will be important for the combined group.
On climate change, Vauramo said: “We are really on the spot with that one to develop more efficient processes, with higher recoveries, better quality, less water consumption or full recirculation of water.”
By taking a more “holistic look” at the whole processing flowsheet, the company will be able to ensure less energy is used throughout the entire process, leading to lower emissions. Any water that is consumed will be recycled where possible, according to Vauramo.
This also implies tailings management will be a cornerstone for Metso Outotec, leveraging both companies’ expertise in filtration technology, alongside Outotec’s paste backfill capability, and other developments the two have made within the dry stacked tailings arena.
“Our expertise is in that process,” Vauramo said of tailings management. “That is where we want to be, and we want to further innovate that process.”
Digitalisation developments within the services area (which represents 56% of group sales) will also accelerate within the larger group.
Vauramo, referencing Metso’s experience during the last three-and-a-bit months, thinks remote monitoring opportunities will grow.
“The COVID virus has shown that the need for remote monitoring is really increasing,” he said. “It has shown many business cases for future remote monitoring needs.
“We have learnt that mines can operate at least temporarily – some over a longer period of time – with a reduced presence at site. But, for service reasons, we do need to know how the equipment performs.”
A third remote performance centre (previously called Metso Performance Center) was recently added to this digital offering through the redevelopment of a former Outotec premise in Espoo, Finland. This European location comes on top of the centres already opened in South America (Santiago, Chile) and Asia (Changsha, China).
It is the R&D part of the new entity that will help the company continue to innovate on this front and others; this is an area Vauramo believes the company can continue to lead on.
“Our R&D investments annually are €100 million,” he said. “That is more than anyone else in the industry.”
The company has 30 R&D centres, more than 8,000 patents and produces around 15 new innovations or products a year from this “mostly decentralised” platform.
Asked whether he expected this type of spending to continue into the future, he said: “€100 million makes just short of 2.5% of our combined sales. I would say we are in the right range (with that figure). Whether it should be 3%, or whether we continue with this approximately 2.5% of sales remains to be seen; it depends on our strategy and the opportunities we see.
“What I would say is that we will not hesitate to increase it (the spend) if we have the right opportunities.”