Equipment OEM COVID-19 statements try to maintain sense of continuity but mine slowdowns will hit hard

Looking at the big OEMs for mining equipment, statements made so far focus as expected on the health and safety of employees, while maintaining production and distribution supply chains where possible with adaptations where needed and restricting all employee travel with all non-essential manufacturing and service staff switching to home working. However, as mines shutter operations, albeit temporarily for now, orders will be put on hold and the aftermarket will slow down so it will inevitably start to bite the METS sector quickly.

Komatsu Mining says it continues to work with its global teams, distributors and supply chain partners, “and as an essential business, our factories, service operations and parts distribution businesses remain open and committed to providing the equipment, technology and services our customers depend on, while prioritising health and safety measures at our facilities and for our employees worldwide.

Following government and global health organisation guidance regarding COVID-19, it has enacted policies “that reduce risk for our employees including remote work for all who can, rotating and segregating essential operations and supply shifts, strict travel restrictions, prohibiting visitors to our facilities and supporting quarantine needs.”

The company adds: “We are working closely with our vendors, suppliers and global leadership to continue to move forward in accordance with our Business Continuity Plans. Meeting customer needs and providing essential support for the construction, industrial machinery, mining and forestry industries remain top priorities and we will continue to fulfill our obligations to the best of our ability as we monitor the evolving situation, and communicate and adapt accordingly.”

Epiroc says COVID-19 has had an impact in nearly all of the countries where Epiroc has operations. “Epiroc is closely monitoring the fast-changing situation around the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). We have activated crisis committees and set up dedicated task-force teams throughout the organisation and are taking decisive actions to protect our employees’ health and wellbeing. We are focused on helping to maintain business continuity with our customers throughout this challenging situation. At the moment, we do not have any major disruption in our operations.”

The company says the main priority for the operations is to safeguard the supply-chain and the availability of spare parts, rock drilling tools and other essential products. “We currently have all our distribution centres operational with inventories to support your operations.”It adds on manufacturing: All of our manufacturing facilities are fully operational at this time. Our production in China has been impacted by the closures during January and February, but returned to operation in mid-February and continue to operate today. We have some delays in deliveries from the China operations, but the situation is improving.”

Epiroc’s statement closed: “We have plans in place to safeguard business continuity if any of our manufacturing facilities or distribution centres would be severely impacted by the coronavirus. Rest assured that we are doing all that we can to support you throughout this challenging situation.”

During CONEXPO-CON/AGG, Caterpillar Chief Executive Officer Jim Umpleby said that it wasn’t seeing any major supply issues yet due to COVID-19 but a couple of weeks in this crisis make a big difference. Caterpillar has already announced the temporary closure of its Lafayette, Indiana large engine plant, with the company stating: “We are taking a variety of actions at our global facilities to align production with customer demand, including temporary facility shutdowns at our Lafayette, Indiana location.” In Illinois, the company has avoided the state’s “shelter in place” order as it has provisions for businesses remaining open if they’re involved in the manufacture, distribution and supply chain for critical products and industries. Construction and mining are listed among those industries.

Looking at one of the major Caterpillar global dealers for another angle, Finning International has stated: “In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and global market volatility, we have activated robust business continuity plans to minimise disruptions to our business and adapt to evolving market conditions. Our top priority is the health and safety of our staff, customers, and the communities in which we operate. We have taken appropriate precautions in this regard while continuing to deliver products and services to meet our customers’ needs. To that end, we are following the advice of health authorities in each jurisdiction where we operate. Globally, we have implemented social distancing, team separation, and extensive work from home initiatives, as well as eliminated all travel not related to critical logistics and field operations.”

It adds: “We remain well-positioned to serve customers through a number of channels, including online at, our ongoing branch operations, call centres, dropboxes and other flexible delivery alternatives. With the full support of Caterpillar, our global supply chain is functioning well, with minimal disruptions to date and global continuity plans in place. Our branch operations currently remain open in each region, parts warehouses are operating, and we continue serving customers at their sites. As conditions evolve, we will adjust our plans in line with our business continuity protocols, with employee, customer and community health and safety as our highest priority. We recognise, however, that the effects of the COVID‑19 pandemic and government or customer actions to respond could ultimately be materially disruptive for Finning.”

Looking at mineral processing majors, FLSmidth has stated: “As the COVID-19 virus continues to impact the daily lives of millions across the globe, safeguarding the health and safety of our 11,700 employees and of all our customers worldwide is our number one priority. Even during such times, minerals and cement are vital, basic components in keeping societies functioning as normally as possible. This means we are taking all the necessary measures to ensure we can continue to supply equipment and services to customers around the world, guaranteeing your continued productivity.”

It added: “The impact of COVID-19, however, inevitably means a change in how we do business. For instance, as much as we appreciate meeting customers face-to-face, the current reality dictates that we must rely on online meetings and video conferencing. When it comes to plant and site maintenance, our remote monitoring, maintenance and support will become even more important, especially for issues that may not require on-site work. New challenges such as reducing the numbers of workers on the ground or even temporary plant shut downs are materialising. Even remotely and online, we can bring our process knowledge, digital tools, expertise and global service and support network to help you meet and overcome these issues.Our local teams of engineers, service professionals, process experts and mechanics are on stand-by 24/7 to assist via our digital and remote capabilities.”