For 2011, the German manufacturers of mining equipment are expecting a 32-% rise in sales to around 5 billion €. “A new sales record,” announced Dr. Paul Rheinlaender, Chairman of the VDMA Mining Equipment Association. This makes the sector one of the few in Germany to have grown throughout the entire crisis. Speaking at the Association’s annual press conference at Zeche Zollverein in Essen, Dr. Rheinlaender attributed the growth to the increasing global demand for raw materials despite the financial crisis. Supplier countries were, he continued, upping extraction quotas, for which they primarily need machinery to extend existing or open up new mines. This even applies to Germany. The rising prices for raw materials, Dr. Rheinlaender explained, was making mining operations move attractive, even in Germany. As examples, he mentioned Wismut where a new mine has been opened for the extraction of heavy spar and the plans for a major copper ore mine in Lausatia. Mining operations here are scheduled to start in two or three years.
Mining equipment manufacturers are also following with interest plans by RAG to use shafts, drift mines as well as the sites of former hard coal mines to build environment-friendly pump storage power stations. Dr. Rheinlaender emphasized that his sector is well prepared to support such schemes with technology and know-how. He felt, however, that there were only comparatively small numbers of mines offering the geological conditions needed for such projects. In addition, clarification would still be required as to whether the necessary economic conditions could be met.
Mining equipment manufacturers owe their 32-% sales record mainly to excellent foreign business. Exports rose by 36 % to reach almost 4.6 billion €, while domestic business went up by 4 % to 480 million €. As Dr. Rheinlaender pointed out, it was getting increasingly difficult to launch new mining projects in Germany, and that included quarries. A society that stood for progress, he said, should also be prepared to cope with any resultant burdens. But the sector was still confident that it could increase its sales on the home market too in the year ahead.
China continues to be the biggest sales market abroad for mining equipment “Made in Germany”. For the current year, manufacturers expect to increase sales from 323 million € to about 400 million €. As Dr. Rheinlaender stressed, the country was extensively enlarging its extraction capacities. This not only applied to coal but also almost all other raw materials found in China. Russia ranks number two among major customer countries. In the words of Dr. Rheinlaender, the country’s economy was receiving sufficient capital again. Natural gas consumption in Russia was being steadily reduced as a result to a switch to coal, so as to have greater capacities for currency earning exports. For the same reason, coal exports were also to be increased.
In the USA, capacities in underground mining are also being expanded. Compared with 2010, the VDMA is expecting an around 37-% increase in sales to 197 million € for 2011. Australia and South America are the fourth and fifth largest export markets. In the scope of a South America initiative, trade relations to the continent are being stepped up, explained Rheinlaender. With the supply of high-quality technology, safety in the mines can also be improved in the long-term.
Dr. Rheinlaender also stressed that the VDMA Mining Equipment Association had launched a series of events under the motto “Future Mining” to support the predominant number of medium-sized companies in his sector to prepare for the future. There had been an “outstanding” response, particularly among the larger companies involved, although Dr. Rheinlaender would have wished for a greater involvement of smaller companies. In his capacity as Chairman of the VDMA Mining Equipment Association, he stressed that steering the wrong course now might have catastrophic effects for them in particular.