The demand for gravel pumps in South Africa has been on a steady decline over the past 20 years, says mining equipment manufacturer PCF Engineering managing partner Jan Feldtmann.
“At times, it takes up to a week to secure an order, whereas sometimes it can be anything from a month to a year before a client actually places an order. A few years ago, we could hardly keep up with demand, but lately, we usually have stock on the floor,” he adds.
This is as a result of South African companies employing fewer gravel pumps, primarily because of unfavourable economic factors. The rest of the African continent often presents a bigger market for gravel pumps, Feldtmann states.
“Owing to political factors, even African demand has been slightly down in recent times, although we have a few clients in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).”
Further, challenges in the African mining sector have impacted heavily on the company’s approach to doing business.
“Unfortunately, the company had to retrench artisans and assistants to reduce overheads. We have also had to work for shorter periods for over 12 months, owing to this decline in demand. The main challenge has been to keep our doors open, become more cost effective and provide better prices for our clients.”
PCF manufactures gravel pumps ranging between two and 12 inches.
These centrifugal pumps are used to draw up sand, gravel and rocks up to 30 m deep. These pumps are primarily driven by diesel engines or hydraulic motors.
“This year, we have also supplied our 12-inch pumps to a client in the DRC and eight-inch pumps to clients in Angola. We are also supplying six-inch pumps to another client in the DRC. PCF is also in negotiations to supply its eight-inch pumps to potential clients in Sierra Leone and Angola.”
The company has also supplied pumps for dredging which use electric motors, Feldtmann reveals.
He concludes that the future outlook for the pumps sector in African mining remains positive for PCF. “Our pumps are built to last. We aim to provide a very good product at a good price for our clients.”