The Investing in African Mining Indaba is opportune for keeping abreast of global trends, developments and challenges, as well as potential clients’ needs, enabling original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to adapt and customise their products, solutions and services accordingly, says vibrating equipment and solutions OEM Kwatani.
Kwatani CEO Kim Schoepflin says the event, which will be held from February 5 to 8 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, is about meeting new clients and building relationships, but even more about gaining a thorough understanding of potential clients’ needs.
“When we meet with mining houses to discuss their challenges, we look at risk-sharing and out-of-the-box solutions to offer value according to the exact needs of players in the industry.”
Besides continued economic and commodity volatility in 2018, she says the requirements of the third iteration of the Mining Charter, despite currently being subject to litigation by the Chamber of Mines, are putting increased pressure on the mining industry, especially coal mines supplying State-owned power utility Eskom, which require 51% black ownership.
Skilled artisans and operators have fallen victim to social transformation and retrenchments. Consequently, there has been a loss of skills, accumulated over years of experience, which has, ultimately, led to a skills shortage.
“This skills shortage often results in substandard maintenance being performed across mines and maintenance is becoming reactive rather than proactive.”
Kwatani, Schoepflin highlights, engineers customised vibrating equipment for increased tonnage at a low total cost of ownership. Kwatani continues to align its business model to add value, despite economic volatility leading to limited funds and, therefore, limited capital projects under way in the mining industry, and a shortage of skills to undertake proper maintenance at mines.
Schoepflin highlights that, while some commodities are improving, the volatility in commodity demand and prices, political uncertainty and lack of skills persist.
The Mining Indaba programme reflects on key topics in the current environment that the industry needs to address.
“The event, which is still Africa’s largest mining conference, provides a platform of relevant information that provides a good indication of where the industry is heading and where its focus lies.”
For Kwatani, the aim is to discuss upcoming projects and expansions with new and existing clients, as well as new trends in mineral beneficiation that manifest as new technology is available to increase plant performance.
Like the Mining Indaba, Kwatani continues to align itself with the requirements of the industry and uses the opportunity to touch base with decision-makers on industry-affecting topics and discuss new trends in mineral beneficiation, as well as the introduction of new technologies to further improve performance and reduce costs to cope in challenging market conditions.
Schoepflin points out that, to counter the industry’s current shortage of skills, Kwatani implements service-level agreements with clients, offers on-site training and designs equipment for easy maintenance and durability.
Mining Weekly reported in January 2017 that Kwatani’s service-level agreements included regular audits on vibrating screening equipment, enabling service technicians to identify areas where maintenance or small adjustments were needed, resulting in improved operational performance of equipment, increasing longevity and reducing maintenance costs.
Schoepflin stresses that mining companies realise that the quality and performance of their vibrating equipment have a direct impact on the overall performance of their processing plants and, ultimately, their mineral production and profits.
Thus, a lack of maintenance is detrimental to not only vibrating screening equipment but also the company’s bottom line. She adds that companies should keep this in mind when procuring spare parts for OEM machinery.
Kwatani also strives to deliver its high- quality equipment and services according to strict time schedules. Schoepflin notes that delivering machines on capital projects places suppliers under immense pressure because, while they agree to complete the mine project by a certain time, commodity prices may be improving in the meantime, resulting in added pressure from mines to complete projects within limited periods to make full use of the upturn.
“It is, therefore, nonnegotiable to meet timelines, as every delay can cost money for the supplier, in the form of penalties, and the mine, in the form of potential revenue loss.”
She adds that suppliers can secure capital projects only by satisfying the project houses’ demands, which include not only being on time but also meeting cost of ownership, efficiencies and performance for the plant operator and end-user.
Kwatani has a 42-year record of manufacturing high-quality vibrating equipment for the mining and industrial sector at its 17 000 m2 facility in Kempton Park, Gauteng, to meet metallurgical and mechanical needs, as well as cost requirements of engineers, metallurgists, mining operators, mining houses and project houses.
The company also meets Mining Charter transformation requirements. “Kwatani has Level 3 broad-based black economic empowerment accreditation with 30% black ownership and was the first in its class to achieve this,” mentions Schoepflin.
The company’s Kempton Park facility caters for the engineering design, manufacturing, assembly and testing of vibrating screens and feeders for a spectrum of commodities and industrial applications; it also includes an exciter gearbox and electrical motor assembly and refurbishment operation.
The company can also dispatch its qualified technicians to site and maintains open working relationships with its clients. “Being at the mine enables our technicians to interact with operators, metallurgists and artisans, gaining a sense of the kind of results each one is looking for. Kwatani’s technicians can also attain a holistic view of how vibrating screening equipment operates at specific mines.”