Since the decision to operate under its own name in Africa in June 2018, Epiroc has identified South Africa as a critical mining territory for the business, accounting for a significant amount of overall turnover. In a recent visit to South Africa, Epiroc executives identified a number of opportunities worth exploring. By Mpinane Senkhane
For Epiroc, a leading productivity partner for the mining, infrastructure and natural resources industries, South Africa is a mineral-rich part of the world alive with opportunity and potential. MiningNe.ws sat with Per Lindberg, president and CEO; Helena Hedblom, senior executive vice-president and business area president: Mining and Rock Excavation Technique; and Sanjay Ahuja, general manager: SA Region, all from Epiroc, and discussed these very opportunities.
“What we have realised in our time here is that customers are looking for companies that are increasingly advanced, and making use of unique automation solutions, and this is essentially what we are,” says Lindberg.
In January 2017, it was announced that Atlas Copco would split and create a separate company, later known as Epiroc, to focus on mining operations. The split was completed in June 2018 when Epiroc was listed on the stock exchange in Sweden.
“The separation journey we embarked on allowed us to pour more into serving our clients’ needs and really identify what our demand drivers are. We now have a clear mandate, so there are no intervening levels, and we know what is required of us by the market,” says Ahuja.
“We have had a number of significant milestones thus far, namely: we are dedicated to rolling out our automation initiatives, which will play a major role on the global market on a productivity standpoint as well as in Africa. Then, of course, there are also the acquisitions we have just embarked on. So we have a number of initiatives under way to ensure we grow organically and we are also pursuing acquisitions that will strengthen our position” adds Hedblom.
Recently, Eprioc agreed to acquire Innovative Mining Products (Pty) Ltd, widely known as New Concept Mining – a South African manufacturer of rock reinforcement products for underground mining.
Smarter mining is the future
Epiroc has been an advocate of the mining industry’s shift towards battery-powered machinery for some time now.
“We believe battery power will be the future for underground mining, with the benefits being evident. It is environmentally friendly as well as contributing to huge energy savings because of extremely high ventilation costs. So we are aiming towards a fossil free underground mining environment. That is our long-term vision.
“We do admittedly have a lot of work to do including design changes on all our equipment, but we are busy with that and can safely say battery technology is our key area of focus” says Hedblom.
Eprioc recently launched its second generation of battery products and these are “bigger and better machines than generation 1”, according to Lindberg, adding that with bigger machines, the company expects to really start making inroads with this technology.
“We fully embrace battery technology because clients who would otherwise have to spend millions of rands to sink vertical shafts for the purpose of ventilation can get to the ore much quicker with much less capital expense this way. That is a game changer,” stresses Ahuja.
Epiroc has adopted an Africa-centric strategy for the future, with the belief that this region has the biggest potential.
“We already have a big footprint here with six offices in African countries and having a production base in South Africa will definitely help us to support our African customers. Innovative Mining Products has technology that is really complementary to what we already alongside it’s excellent competence base, and we look forward to the future,” concludes Lindberg.