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TABLE OF CONTENTS Aug 8 - 14, 2005 Volume 91 Number 24 - 0 comments

SGS Lakefield feeds on MinnovEX

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By: Brian Sylvester

SGS Lakefield Research, a unit of Geneva-based Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS) Group, has become an even bigger fish after swallowing Toronto-based metallurgical firm MinnovEX Technologies. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"On the metallurgical side, we were looking for opportunities like MinnovEX where we can broaden our range of services," explains Chris Fleming, vice-president of global metallurgy with SGS Lakefield Research. "We believe we will be able to gain market share by bringing a full basket of services and technologies to our clients so they don't have to go all over the place to find them."

Among other specialties, MinnovEX takes data from labs and pilot-plant programs, and models them through computer simulation programs to predict how a plant will perform and respond to change throughout the life of a mine.

SGS Lakefield performs metallurgical test work for use in prefeasibility and feasibility studies for mining and exploration companies. Most of the work is done at four main laboratories located in Canada, Chile, Australia and the U.K.

Fleming says data collected from SGS Lakefield test work will be used in MinnovEX's three-dimensional modelling and simulation programs.

"It makes a lot of sense for us to get our technology out into the industry. There are some strong business reasons for doing [the deal]. With the modelling capability that we've developed, what we need is better access to data," says Glenn Dobby, vice-president of MinnovEX, which posted revenue of $10 million in 2004 with 50 employees in Canada, Brazil, South Africa and Chile.

A small MinnovEX lab in Toronto, along with a handful of its employees, will likely be moved to SGS Lakefield facilities in Lakefield, Ont., north of Peterborough. Dobby says that most MinnovEX employees, however, will remain in Toronto.

Earlier this year, SGS Lakefield teamed with Cornwall, U.K.-based metallurgical firm Holman Wilfley to set up shop in Europe. The new entity offers a variety of services to the European and North African markets. SGS Lakefield also bought the MDS Water Testing lab in London, Ont.

In 2002, SGS bought Lakefield Research, which had operated independently since 1995 when Lakefield management bought the metallurgical firm from parent company Falconbridge (FAL.LV-T).

Fleming dismisses the notion of shrinking competition.

"There's always going to be competition. We could buy them all but then someone else is going to spring up. You can never win that way," says Fleming. "MinnovEX wanted to do this deal just as badly as we did."

Founded in 1878, SGS employs roughly 42,000 people at 1,000 offices and labs around the world.

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Chris Fleming, Vice-President of Global Metallurgy with SGS Lakefield.
Chris Fleming, Vice-President of Global Metallurgy with...

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