Getting rail handling back on track


An upturn in the mining and minerals sector may well be good news for suppliers of rail handling equipment, but operators are still determined to keep control of costs.

It is clear that suppliers of rail car handling equipment are having a difficult time, particularly because of lower demand from the mining sector over the past three years. The recent recovery in commodity prices should feed through to new orders in the long term, but, in the meantime, manufacturers are seeking out contracts in other sectors. In addition, many recent innovations in the wagon tippler market are being introduced to obviate the need for deep foundations. This reduces costs and avoids problems associated with high water tables.
Robert Kaib, Metso’s global director for bulk and pyro products, commented: “Metso, as with our competition, continues to be challenged by tough market conditions. Enquiry levels remain moderate in the mining, power, fertiliser and grain industries. Market trends continue to improve gradually, overcoming the mining downturn that started a few years ago.” Metso’s core customer base is in the mining sector, although it also supplies clients in the paper, recycling, grain, power and other sectors.
Matt Jones, general manager for wagon unloading systems at Aumund Group-owned Schade Lagertechnik, agreed: “The current wagon tippler (dumper) market is, at best, described as erratic. We have seen many new and existing projects start with preliminary and pre-feasibility studies. However, many have not proceeded beyond this stage. Iran remains of interest, with the potential steel making expansions. However, this market continues to be depressed by political trade sanctions and financing issues.” 
Forecast growth

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