Against the general trend, German mining equipment manufacturers expect a record year for 2019.
The German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA) said it expects sales to rise by 38% to around €5B, while in 2020, it expects revenues to be at least maintained.
In Germany, mining equipment manufacturers are expected to increase their sales by 10% to €110M. As the chairman of VDMA Mining, Dr Michael Schulte Strathaus, said during an annual press conference at the Zeche Zollverein in Essen, the domestic market has become “rather a marginal phenomenon” due to the decision to phase out lignite-fired power generation and the decreasing opportunities to continue producing domestic raw materials.
In addition, the increasingly difficult spatial planning and the over-planning of deposits are becoming more and more important. For the coming year, the VDMA therefore expects domestic revenues to change only slightly at best.
Foreign business looks much more pleasing though. Sales are expected to rise this year by 38% to €4.9B. The export ratio is thus 98%, according to VDMA Mining.
For 2020, the industry assumes that it will at least be able to maintain its revenues. According to Schulte Strathaus, the trade dispute between the US and China, the renewed postponement of Brexit and the continuing tense situation in the Middle East, which is also having a negative impact on business, are having an adverse impact.
In the medium and long term, however, the industry expects demand to continue to rise. In this context, the VDMA Mining chairman referred to calculations by the OECD according to which the world population will grow to more than 9B people by 2050 and the demand for raw materials will double by 2060, which he said will have a positive effect on the industry.
To meet the demands of the digital age, mining equipment manufacturers are increasingly relying on machinery and equipment used in hard rock mining.
Schulte Strathaus said: “This is where many metals are extracted for the digital future. Without them, and thus also without our products, digitisation would simply not be possible.” Data and energy are the basis for the future, but without raw materials there would be no energy, he stressed.
Sustainability is at the top of the agenda for manufacturers. Schulte Strathaus gave examples from his company’s field of activity. The topic was the optimised transport of raw materials from extraction to processing.
The conveyor belts and transitions used for this must be designed in such a way that no valuable raw materials are lost. In addition to optimised bearings and idlers with low running resistance, a modern materials flow control system in the form of intelligent scrapers, chute seals, swivel castors and impact tables, which ensure dust reduction and whereas little material as possible is lost, is required.
In addition, according to Schulte Strathaus, a comprehensive digitisation of belt conveyors is required in order to record the different aggregate states via sensors regarding predictive maintenance.
Safety is also a very important issue for manufacturers. Here, according to Schulte Strathaus, German companies are “world leaders”. There are hardly any foreign manufacturers “who can hold a candle to us in this respect”, he said, which is one of the reasons why mining machines “Made in Germany” are in demand worldwide.