In a spate of late-2009 acquisition activity, three heavyweight players—Siemens, FLSmidth and Outotec—bought the assets of smaller specialized-equipment manufacturers to round out and fill gaps in their product and service lines. Siemens’ Industry Solutions Division acquired Industrial Process Machinery (IPM), based in Manchester, New Hampshire, to expand its portfolio of dewatering services for industrial applications. IPM will become part of Siemens Water Technologies, a business unit within the division. The purchase price was not disclosed. IPM will continue to operate from its facility in Manchester.

With more than 100 global installations, IPM provides high-capacity filter presses for slurry dewatering, primarily to the mining and process industries. According to Siemens, IPM’s line of highly automated filter presses offer shorter filter press cycle times and high speed shifting, resulting in reduced cost. IPM filter presses, noted Siemens, remove so much moisture from filter cake that thermal drying equipment may not be needed. IPM filter presses will be incorporated into the existing Siemens dewatering product portfolio, which includes the J-Press line of filter presses.

“IPM has a strong reputation in the mining market with their filter presses,” said Dave Spyker, executive vice president of the Industrial Segment for Siemens Water Technologies. “The acquisition expands our filter press line of products and related services further into the global mining market, and into other industries as well, including chemical and remediation.”

Meanwhile, FLSmidth acquired the assets of Summit Valley Equipment & Engineering (SVEE), located in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, in mid-December. SVEE designs and fabricates modular plants and equipment used for extraction of gold and silver. Its product line includes the industry’s highest capacity electrowinning cell used in precious metals recovery. The Utah company’s average annual turnover is approximately $25 million.

According to a press statement issued by FLSmidth, SVEE has an established global presence, having already supplied specialty equipment and services to 24 countries on six continents over

Group CEO Jørgen Huno Rasmussen said, “With the acquisition of SVEE FLSmidth adds unique refining expertise to our existing minerals business thereby increasing our offerings to the minerals processing industries and providing a more complete flow sheet in gold and silver extraction.”

On December 10, Espoo, Finland-based Outotec announced it had acquired 19.9% of shares in Ausmelt Ltd., an Australian public company, and had launched an off-market takeover bid to acquire all shares.

Outotec obtained its initial holding of shares in Ausmelt from interests associated with the company founder, Dr. John Floyd. In addition, Outotec offered remaining Ausmelt shareholders A$0.85 cash per share. The offer values Ausmelt at A$34 million (approximately €21 million, or US$30.3 million).

Ausmelt’s principal activities are the development, design, engineering and supply of Top Submerged Lance (TSL) smelting technology for production of metals and processing of industrial wastes. Outotec currently offers flash smelting technology for copper and nickel concentrate smelting in large-scale plants, whereas Ausmelt’s TSL method is suitable for a variety of other feed materials, such as ferrous metals, zinc, lead and tin concentrates, zinc-bearing residues, and various secondary and waste materials. The main benefit of the process is that it enables recovery of valuable metals from by-products.

Outotec CEO Tapani Järvinen said, “Ausmelt has an excellent strategic fit with Outotec. Once completed, this acquisition will improve our technology portfolio in environmentally sound smelting technologies, and allows us to offer smaller scale copper and nickel smelters as well as solutions for recycling, secondary materials and process wastes. We believe that within Outotec there are significant growth opportunities for the Ausmelt technology.”

Outotec said acquisition of Ausmelt will not affect its financial results for 2009 nor will it have a material impact on Outotec’s financial position. The transaction is expected to be finalized in the first quarter of 2010.