Weir sees mining upturn in sight and aims for ambitious growth

Weir Minerals Africa believes “an economic recovery in the mining sector is on the horizon,” and is gearing up in readiness for that. According to Gavin Dyer, Weir Minerals Africa’s Regional Managing Director for Africa and the Middle East, signs of market improvement have been coming through in the company’s order book since the end of last year.

“So we have been preparing our operations and distribution systems for this long awaited upturn, in line with our ambitious growth plans,” says Dyer. “We aim to achieve at least double the growth rate of our markets, and our past success shows our ability to reach and exceed tough targets like these. For instance, we aimed to double our business between 2010 and 2015, but achieved that goal in just three and a half years.”

The company has built its strong reputation on the back of a substantial installed base of Warman® slurry pumps in particular. This, in turn, supports continued growth of its aftermarket supply and associated services to support these products. It is also making progress in gaining market share with non-slurry products and services. Huge opportunity lies in the application of the new and improved materials and technologies that Weir has developed over the years – which improve the performance of the older technologies still being employed in customers’ operations around the continent.

“With deep roots in the mining industry in Africa, we have a large installed base of products, particularly the older generation pumping technology,” he says. “Our newer materials and technologies mean that customers have the opportunity to upgrade their existing equipment rather than replacing these with new units. Such upgrades are a cost-effective route to higher efficiencies and productivity improvements.”

Dyer emphasises that its technological advances and successful applications around the world allow Weir to implement these solutions for customers in Africa, introducing the latest materials and technologies almost anywhere on the continent.

“Where our customers are operating in remote mining locations, our value proposition based on the lowest total cost of ownership is especially important, giving them affordable solutions to optimise their processes so that there is less downtime for maintenance and related disruptions,” he says.

Pushing the frontiers of innovation through its own research centre, Weir also partners with universities and leverages its own worldwide presence by collaborating between group companies in different countries; high-level technical advances are continuously generated, and the results are shared globally.

Growth in Africa for Weir also means benefiting local economies through its philosophy of full participation in the markets it serves. This includes helping smaller suppliers to build capacity and spreading the benefits of economic development; in South Africa, for instance, it has identified a small foundry as an important sub-contracted supplier and has assisted in the installation of quality systems and technical advice.

“Our presence across Africa creates opportunities for other local businesses as suppliers, and we employ staff from local communities,” says Dyer. “While we prefer trading directly with our customers, we also have strong relationships with agents and distributors in the region; we see value in being in close proximity to our customers, and so we expand our geographic presence wherever demand requires.”

This is also in line with Weir’s strong commitment to Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Codes of Good Practice, with a particular focus on skills development. Its work on this front led to the company recently earning the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) award for excellence as the Most Transformed Company of the Year. It also supports a range of social responsibility initiatives that develop science and maths skills – which in turn feeds into the talent pipeline.