Global demand for mining technology from Germany remains high. In the first six months of 2019, incoming orders increased by 35 % and sales by 40 % compared to the previous year. The upwards trend is therefore continuing in the industry. Following some difficult years from 2012 to 2017, global business has been picking up again over the last two years. In 2018, the around 150 companies in the industry reported sales of around € 3.5 bill., of which about 95 % were generated outside Germany. For the current year, a further increase in sales of around 15 % is expected. “However, the lack of political leadership worldwide makes it all but impossible to predict future development, so we must respond to the situation as it unfolds and react flexibly,” comments Dr Michael Schulte Strathaus, Managing Partner of F. E. Schulte Strathaus GmbH & Co. KG in Werl and Chairman of VDMA Mining.
Shaping the digital future with “Roadmap 2035”
VDMA Mining has launched the “Roadmap 2035” initiative with the aim of securing the global competitiveness of the German mining equipment sector. It provides a platform for the manufacturers organized in the association to discuss future-related topics and work together to devise solutions, for example regarding data security, utilization of data streams and the definition of data interfaces.
The participants in Roadmap 2035 will also examine how to ensure a very high technical standard and innovation leadership. This includes investigating further aspects including performance, availability, ease of maintenance or service life, alongside the problem-solving expertise secured through the employees’ training and skills. As such, the roadmap tackles the recruitment of young talent as well as industrial and academic training.
More customers targeted abroad
The industry has coped well with last year’s cessation of German hard coal mining, with companies using the time between the decision to end coal mining and the closure of the last coal mine in Germany to target more new customers abroad. This year, the USA, China, Australia and Russia are the largest individual markets alongside the eurozone. These countries are also among the world’s largest producers of coal, mining more than 7 bill. t. in 2018, predominantly to cover domestic energy requirements.
Lithium projects in Saxony
The industry sees further potential in the growing demand for raw materials for the energy transition and future technologies. The corresponding investment made by mining companies in extraction and mineral processing technology for lithium, cobalt, tantalum, rare earths and neodymium are reflected in the exports of the mining equipment manufacturers.
In Germany, too – especially in Saxony – investments have been made in new lithium mining projects. The Zinnwald Lithium project south of Dresden plans to mine 5100 t of lithium annually and announced in June that its plans had been confirmed by a feasibility study. In Sadisdorf, also south of Dresden, the Australian mining and technology company Lithium Australia plans to mine lithium in order to meet the growing demand for the raw material from the electromobility sector.