Online auctioneer Clear Asset will launch its daily marketplace through which customers can buy and sell equipment at any time, at the 2016 Investing in African Mining Indaba, in Cape Town, next month.
The platform will enable individual buyers and sellers to upload their inventory and negotiate online, and will provide users with settlement, negotiation and escrow support, states Clear Asset founder Ariella Kuper.
She says many of the buyers using Clear Asset’s services had asked for the option to list one or two units for sale online.
The new marketplace will address these demands and complement Clear Asset’s regular, but separate, auctions that are focused on trade between bigger institutions, Kuper states.
Clear Asset has attended every Mining Indaba since the company started doing business in 2012.
The Mining Indaba, taking place from February 8 to 11 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, is an opportunity to meet new prospective clients, particularly those from overseas who have operations in Africa but do not travel to Cape Town frequently, says Clear Asset cofounder Warren Schewitz.
He adds that the event is “an excellent opportunity to have all our major clients under one roof. We also use it as an opportunity to catch up with our existing customers and review their requirements for the year ahead”.
Schewitz has found it better to engage Clear Asset’s customers face-to-face and to use the Mining Indaba to host meetings.
Having a stand often limits the ability to walk around, explore and meet new players, he notes. As such, Clear Asset values the human aspect of meeting clients and prefers taking advantage of the matchmaking sessions.
Schewitz highlights that the company works with 85% of South Africa’s major mines, which include diversified major Anglo American, gold miners Sibanye Gold, Gold Fields and AngloGold Ashanti and coal miner Exxaro. Other clients include construction and earthmoving contractors Genet and Diesel Power.
Clear Asset operates auctions across Africa and February 2015 sales included the auctioning of Botswana Development Corporation’s Fengyueglass plant as well as equipment in Botswana – both on behalf of KPMG; a vast array of underground equipment for AngloGold Ashanti in Ghana and sales for Anglo American and Sibanye in South Africa.
In addition to the auctions for the mining and construction industries, Clear Asset has expanded its service to include the agriculture and maritime sectors, with four vessels sold through the online platform in 2014 to India and Taiwan.
“We are also seeing growth in the sale of redundant equipment and base metals materials – such as tungsten drill bits and manganese liners, as well as copper and aluminium cathodes the company recently auctioned for the Vedanta Group in Namibia.
Major listed institutions have readily taken to using online platforms for sales, as it not only increases participation on a global level but also ensures transparency and high-level reporting, while reducing the costs involved in selling and moving the equipment, explains Schewitz.
A strong portion of buyers on Clear Asset are in sub-Saharan Africa, but a significant number also come from the US, Europe and the Middle East, with about half of the equipment sold to buyers outside South Africa.
Clear Asset intends to establish a deeper relationship with clients and their holding groups in future to operate across various corporate divisions that often span the globe.
This will enable the company to more efficiently create awareness of its credentials and its level of professionalism, while providing turnkey solutions for mines worldwide, Kuper states.
Schewitz notes that Clear Asset’s reputation is largely based on performance-related word-of-mouth discussions, with Kuper adding that using the latest technological advancements is key to successfully running an online platform such as Clear Asset.
“We chose to build a proprietary solution, which has been a substantial value-add for customers,” she states.
Enabling technology that Clear Asset has invested in includes handheld inspection devices for data capture, a customer relationship management system for specific lead matching, pricing and analytics, as well as a sophisticated auction engine with a back-end electronic- invoicing solution.
Kuper advances that it is imperative to have a strong team that is knowledgeable about the equipment being sold and can facilitate trade with on-the-ground support.
“Managing all these touch points can be challenging, but having clearly designated roles and online process-management tools help.”
Kuper adds that a major challenge in the online auction environment has also been getting certain sellers to be realistic about their price expectations.
Market conditions have resulted in a glut of equipment, which has forced prices down. The ability to provide current real-time market data is key to guide equipment pricing and, in this regard, online platforms excel because data reporting has become so advanced, Kuper adds.
Historically, Clear Asset has had some excellent online sales during the Mining Indaba, Schewitz says, adding that the increased visibility and overflow of interest during the event creates a great opportunity to hold a showcase auction.
“The Indaba is a melting pot of many of the finest decision-makers and titans in the mining sector. To have access to all these players makes financial sense, saves time and enables the Clear Asset team to engage at the right level over several days in deep discussions,” concludes Kuper.