Certain segments of the mining sector that have traditionally provided most of the impetus for players in the mining lubricants industry have declined significantly, but lubricants specialist FUCHS Lubricants South Africa (FUCHS SA) commercial sales manager Mitch Launspach says the company expects slow, but consistent, growth in the mining segments in which the company operates.
He tells Mining Weekly that the decline is especially prevalent in the gold and coal sectors; however, platinum and the mining of rare earth minerals are “still strong and growing”.
“Regardless of the sector, all mines are hugely complex organisations that will have virtually every type of lubricant application somewhere on site,” he adds, noting that, subsequently, all mines are highly sought-after clients for any lubricants supplier.
Launspach states that FUCHS SA is fortunate in that it offers an extremely wide range of products, covering almost every sector at a mine. Its offering includes heavy-duty diesel engine oils for heavy earthmoving equipment, trucks and generators; industrial products for engineering shops; wire-rope dressing; the speciality-type grease for open gears on mills; and fire-resistant hydraulic oils.
“There will always be opportunities for suppliers that can offer an extensive range of top-tier products for all applications and support their performance with specialists in the field,” he puts forward.
Stockholding on sites has generally been reduced, owing to financial constraints. Therefore, lubricant suppliers who can offer locally manufactured, original-equipment manufacturer-approved products at short notice will always have an advantage, Launspach advances.
“Regular inspections by technical sales engineers who can ensure reduced downtime in critical equipment, such as mills, is also an advantage.”
Meanwhile, FUCHS SA, in conjunction with its parent company FUCHS Petrolub FE, launched its R125-million grease manufacturing plant in April last year at its factory in Isando, Gauteng.
The plant enables FUCHS to manufacture speciality greases for the local market and for export into the rest of Africa – 25% of FUCHS SA’s business comprises African exports – as well as expand the range of greases that the company currently supplies to the mining and general industrial markets.
FUCHS SA aims to increase its market share in the lubricants space, as well as its profit margins, Launspach concludes.