Drilling equipment and consumables supplier Galison Drilling, part of original-equipment manufacturer (OEM) Galison Group, is pinning its 2020 growth strategy on the supply of consumables for the mechanised, or extension rod, drilling sector in South Africa.
“We feel the time is right for alternatives to be available in the South African market for extension rod equipment,” Galison Group CEO Andrew Thorburn tells Mining Weekly.
Historically, Galison Drilling primarily supplied consumables to the hand-held drilling sector in South Africa, before opening a branch in Kitwe, Zambia, to manufacture and supply similar products in that region.
The Zambian branch’s customers include mining professionals and contractors from countries such as Australia, Canada, Peru, Chile and China.
“It soon became apparent that customers from these large mining markets were very happy to stretch their budgets by using a wider range of quality drilling consumables for mechanised drilling,” Thorburn says.
Galison Drilling Zambia sourced a range of these consumables from proven, reputable suppliers and has become a major provider of mechanised drilling consumables in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo over the past four years.
Thorburn aims to roll out the same strategy in South Africa because the growth in the hand-held drilling market is limited.
He believes that there is an opportunity to provide cost-effective alternative consumables for the mechanised drilling sector, which mostly depends on OEM-branded consumables that are often bought at a premium.
“We believe we have a consumable range that can perform comparably with consumables from OEMs, but at a reduced price,” he says.
As part of its push to penetrate the mechanised drilling consumables market in South Africa, Galison has hired more staff, increased its stock and is increasing its product range, which includes bits, drill steel and shank adaptors.
Galison has also moved the focus of its drilling operations from Welkom, in the Free State, to Rustenburg, in the North West province, to be near the platinum mines in the area. This division is run by Galison Drilling MD Johan Fourie, who has over 35 years of mining experience both as a miner and in the mining supply sector.
Thorburn says favourable movements in the gold and platinum prices have resulted in more capital being spent on projects, with new projects consequently leading to increased demand for consumables.
“We are cautiously optimistic that the large decline experienced in the mining industry over the past few years will come to an end. Galison Manufacturing, for example, has definitely seen an uptick in demand over the past nine months.”
Thorburn notes that, although the hand-held market is still strong in platinum, gold and chrome, there is growth potential in the South African market for mechanised drilling consumables, such as larger threaded drill rods and drill bits.
“Customers in South Africa do not have to be tied into exclusively using consumables from the manufacturers of the drill rigs.”
Having alternative mechanised drilling consumables on the market increases competition and lowers costs for users while offering similar performance, he concludes.