Bucking the downturn
While many companies are weathering the hardships of the downturn, family-owned and operated mineral processing company Nagrom is only seeing the positives.
Coupled with the recent lithium boom and the company’s expertise in dealing with non-standard ores, Nagrom’s day-to-day business is growing more than ever before in its 39-year history.
General Manager and Metallurgical Supervisor Rain Lewis said while other companies within the industry were struggling and being forced to let go of talented staff, Nagrom was thriving to the point of expansion.
“Things are certainly looking on the up at the moment,” Mrs Lewis said.
“We have really taken that increase in work out there and are benefiting from it.
“We have been expanding capabilities, expanding the equipment that we have and bringing more staff in, just really taking advantage of the increase in work out there, which has been fantastic.”
In what is a first since the company’s expansion into analytical testing, and a promising sign for the mineral resources sector, this year Nagrom plans to boost its capacity by more than 50 per cent, which means increased work, additional staff and investment in more equipment.
Nagrom Managing Director Rick Murphy founded the Western Australian-based business in 1978 and has since handed over the day-to-day running of Nagrom to his daughter Rain and her husband, Operations Manager Russell Lewis, who is quickly forging a reputation as one of the best DMS and Reflux Classification operators in Australia.
Mrs Lewis has been with Nagrom for the past eight years, and has had to quickly learn and adapt as a result of changing market conditions.
“When I first started we were mostly large-scale beneficiation and a small amount of metallurgical testing, and we only had about 15 staff,” she said.
“Since then we have expanded the metallurgical testing, we have added the analytical lab and we have expanded our analytical capabilities.
“More recently, things have picked up significantly, both across the metallurgical testing and analytical sphere in general, but in particular across lithium, gold, base metals and graphite.”
As part of the planned expansion, Mrs Lewis told National Mining Chronicle the company hopes to expand its capabilities significantly in an analytical capacity, including x-ray fluorescence (XRF) and inductively coupled plasma analysis (ICP).
“On the ICP side we have a significant amount of work, with lithium coming in and also gold,” Mrs Lewis said.
“We are increasing the number of staff for the preparation side of things and we are putting in extra stations for efficient digest.
“On the XRF side, we just bought a new XRF unit and we are looking at expanding the capabilities of our current XRF units and providing a more efficient turnaround for specialised ores that come in.”
These upgrades and expansions have been happening over the past couple of months, with the entire team at Nagrom working hard to get the new equipment and staff up to speed as quickly as possible.
Over the last month or so, Nagrom has put on seven new staff across all divisions and has already made steps to purchase other equipment as well.
“We have a very skilled staff base and we have that capability on the installation and fabrication side, so we can move pretty efficiently on retrofitting the offices, getting new power sources in and upgrading areas so that we can move quicker,” Mrs Lewis said.
Picture: Nagrom's John (left), Russell and Rain Lewis. The West Australian