"We found that there is a strong appetite for new chemistries that are effective, price competitive, and have a good sustainability profile."
What have been the main developments at Axis House in the last two years?
This year, we are relaunching in the PGM markets after our 2019 launch was cut short by Covid; some of our products are already with PGM producers in South Africa and we believe this will be a significant growth market in other countries as well. We found that gold, phosphates, rare earths, and other mining sectors remain broadly under-served and there is a strong appetite for new chemistries that are effective, price competitive, and have a good sustainability profile. Whenever our teams visit a site, they are welcomed by everyone from the technical director to the plant operators and lab personnel, all showing a keen interest in the benefits that our products can bring throughout the mineral processing cycle. This gap – which is not only a gap in chemistry but also in training – will propel our aggressive growth path in the next five years.
Could you elaborate on your growth strategy and the key geographies you target?
Axis House started in the DRC and Zambia, which remain our two biggest markets, but we set our eyes on North Africa and the Middle East a few years back. We started by establishing a local office. Instead of serving this territory from South Africa as we have done in the past, we set up shop in Turkey. We are building a local technical and commercial team that will accelerate our expansion in the region. At a later stage, we will seek to replicate the same locally driven model in South America.
How has your portfolio evolved?
Traditionally, Axis House was known as a flotation reagent expert, but we have diversified from flotation to cover the hydrometallurgical processes, including leaching, precipitation, solvent extraction and electrowinning across different commodity spaces. We launched our VitriAX range of acid mist suppressants in both the DRC and Zambia, from where we will roll them out to other parts of the world and into other minerals besides copper. We have also added a new line of copper extractants that go under the trade name Xtrax. In the gold space, the most exciting development is our non-hazardous cyanide replacements for gold leaching. In the phosphoric acid process, our Cadd cadmium removal (decadmiation) reagent, launched three years ago, took off well and continues to gain further reach in the market. We are also happy to offer a high level of customization for our collectors and frothers, which are tailored to the set-up of each plant and the specific metallurgies of the ore.
What makes your cyanide alternatives attractive in the marketplace?
The industry is pressured to reduce cyanide content and treat the effluent water that contains cyanide, which is quite expensive. We offer two solutions to this problem: First, with our oxide and sulfide collectors, we can improve the leaching process by first floating the gold. However, most gold producers go straight to leaching using cyanide. For them, we have a cyanide replacement product that is safer, more environmentally friendly, and significantly less hazardous than cyanide, while offering the same leaching capabilities.
How is Axis House navigating inflationary pressures?
The volatility in commodity prices, copper losing quite a lot of ground and gold sliding slightly, created a double blow for our clients in addition to cost flare-ups. However, inflationary pressures are also pushing our clients to be more selective in their reagent purchases and go for products that promise higher throughputs and an optimized beneficiation process, with less waste. When the markets tumble, our clients become incredibly interested in the solutions we provide.
Could you summarize your key objectives in the next one to two years?
We dream big and we want to see Axis House achieve a global presence as a market leader. For the next two years, we will continue to focus on the development of our product pipeline and roll out. To do this, we will need a very talented team, so we are looking for people to join our current squad. In the next 24 months, we will recruit at least 20 other people. New employees are onboarded into an amazing in-house training program to become fluent in our products and well-aligned with our values.