2019 will see new challenges and exciting opportunities for the UK operation of LKAB Minerals. With the acquisition of Francis Flower, a UK supplier of sustainable minerals as well as a shift in strategy for the Refractory business towards long term sustainable alternatives to Chinese materials, LKAB Minerals has a lot to look forward to.

LKAB Minerals acquires Francis Flower

On the 3rd December 2018, LKAB Minerals completed a cash transaction acquiring full ownership of Francis Flower.

With annual sales of 1.3 million tonnes of mineral products at a value of 70 million GBP, Francis Flower brings a portfolio of sustainable products to LKAB Minerals, whilst strengthening their position as a supplier into the Building and Construction Industry.

One of Francis Flower’s products is Ground Granulated Blast furnace Slag (GGBS), produced from the recycling of blast furnace slag from the steel industry. GGBS is produced by quenching molten iron slag (a by-product of iron and steel-making) from a blast furnace in water or steam, to produce a glassy, granular product that is then dried and ground into a fine powder. It replaces up to 70% of the Portland Cement in concrete, and can significantly reduce CO2

-emissions. Francis Flower produces GGBS

in Scunthorpe on the grounds of British Steel and is the second largest supplier of GGBS in the UK.

Other products offered by Francis Flower include Calcium Carbonates for road filling, Anhydrite binders for flowing floor screeds under the brand name Gypsol, and other Anhydrite products for Agricultural uses, to which they also supply Limestone. Dolomite and Marble are supplied to food, pharmaceutical, construction, polymer and coatings industries.

Darren Wilson, CEO Europe for LKAB Minerals commented “It is a strategic fit for LKAB Minerals. Francis Flower has a strong entrepreneurial spirit and focus on sustainability which is a critical success factor that is growing in importance. They have modern state-of-the-art production facilities and a dedicated team of mineral processing experts and industry specialists with a broad network of contacts in the end user segments. I believe we will be able to realise synergies that strengthen both our operations, increase cross-selling and improve service to our combined customer base in a very positive way.”

Company News

Refractories at LKAB Minerals; Focussing on the long-term

As the refractory market continues to cope with the fall out from supply chain issues of raw materials from China and more recently the shortages in high value alumina based products, the refractory team at LKAB Minerals are continuing to work on long term sustainable solutions for our customers.

Following on from a strategic review of the business in 2017, there was already a clear view the LKAB Minerals refractory business model needed to move away from an over reliance on Chinese sourced refractory minerals. As virgin refractory raw materials are a key part of our business, a number of alumina and magnesia based non-Chinese minerals are available from our portfolio, sourced from long term, responsible suppliers.

Another core offering from LKAB Minerals is our recycled refractory product range. This has seen a significant increase in business during the last few months, as customers seek good quality, cost effective alternatives to the volatile refractory mineral supply chain. To ensure good availability of recycled refractories, LKAB Minerals have signed a long term supply agreement with our recycling partner Richmond Reclamation Ltd based in Sheffield, UK. Regular meetings are held to review the sourcing of recycled materials and consider new products to offer to our customer base.

In terms of partnerships, a significant amount of development has also gone into formalising a long term agreement with our UK based supplier of chrome alumina. This is another example of how our core products are seeing an increase in demand, this time owing to its high refractoriness and abrasion resistance.

LKAB Minerals continue to offer our other refractory services; customised processing through the layering of aggregates and toll manufacturing (mixing), as well as supporting customers with our extensive knowledge of the refractory industry.

Melvyn Bradley, Commercial Director Refractories at LKAB Minerals Ltd commented “The refractory market for raw materials continues to be very challenging and 2019 will bring extra pressures for the UK and EU with the uncertainty over Brexit. In the global refractory market there is still a lack of clarity on what will happen with the supply of bauxite and magnesite out of China and there appears to be no improvement in the short term to the calcined alumina supply chain issues. We see an increasing demand for alternatives to the refractory supply chain which has been the norm for the last couple of decades, and our strategy is to help customers find sustainable long term solutions to complement their business.”

Integration has begun and Francis Flower will unite under the LKAB Minerals brand early spring January 2019 Issue ENGINEER THE REFRACTORIES 15

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