Tag Archives: Helena Hedblom

Epiroc prepared for more order records after strong Q2

Record orders received, high revenue growth and improved profitability were all part of Epiroc’s June quarter financial results as the OEM also made significant headway on its diesel-to-battery-electric retrofit plan to help electrify the mining sector.

Orders received increased 37% to a record high of SEK11.07 billion ($1.27 billion). This corresponds to 45% organic growth compared with the June quarter of 2020, the company said, noting that the 2020 three-month period was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Within this, equipment had the highest organic order growth of 76%, supported by a few large orders, such as an underground mining equipment order from Mexican contractor CoMinVi for use at several mines throughout the country.

The aftermarket also had a strong development, with organic growth of 26% for service and 42% for Tools & Attachments, Epiroc noted.

On the electrification front, Epiroc also highlighted that the June quarter had seen the company win several orders for battery-electric equipment, including one from Ivanplats for the Platreef project in South Africa, while receiving the first orders for its diesel-to-battery retrofit solution. The latter is starting with the conversion of diesel ST1030 loaders to battery-electric versions.

Revenues increased 15% to SEK9.733 billion in the June quarter, while operating profit and operating margin rose 54% and 22.4% to SEK2.182 billion and 22.4%, respectively.

The period was also characterised by several acquisitions, including the purchase of Australia-based Kinetic Logging Services, Canada-based 3D-P, and South Africa-based MineRP. Chile-based Mining TAG and Meglab, based in Canada, also came into the Epiroc fold in earlier July.

Speaking to IM just after the results came out, Helena Hedblom, Epiroc President and CEO, said the company had seen the automation, digitalisation and electrification trends observed across industry accelerate in these regions, among others, since the emergence of COVID-19.

“We see that different regions are ahead in terms of different capabilities,” she said. “We have seen a lot around digitalisation and automation in Australia, and, in Canada, when it comes to electrification, there are a lot of things happening. South Africa is strong when it comes to software and, on top of that, there are some regional players serving the sector like Mining TAG.

“We, as Epiroc, can come with our global footprint and help these regional players go abroad and roll out the technology on a global level.”

These acquisitions have seen the company’s staffing contingent swell in the last year. At the end of June, Epiroc said it had 14,569 employees across the globe, compared with 13,967 a year earlier, tied mainly to these acquisitions. Indeed, the three companies acquired during the June quarter came with 430 employees in total.

At the end of 2019, prior to the global onset of the pandemic, Epiroc had 14,268 employees on its books.

While Hedblom acknowledged much of the staffing increase was on the back of acquisitions, she did say the company was ramping-up additional workforce in “manufacturing, in supply chain and in service”.

And looking back to the rationalisation carried out across the company during the height of COVID-19 worries – which saw a notice of termination provided to 425 employees in Sweden and the consolidation of the manufacturing of exploration drilling tools in Canada – Hedblom said the company had since repositioned itself for the type of growth it was now experiencing.

“When we did the correction last year, we addressed a lot related to, mainly, admin and back office. With these acquisitions coming on board, of course, the majority of employees are technology-related people…software developers and service people to manage the technology out in the field.”

And, lastly, when it comes to the capacity to keeping up with record orders, Hedblom said: “We have a very flexible manufacturing setup where we do the final assembly, in house, and a lot of the pre-assembly is done by some external suppliers. That is how we are – and have always – managed swings in order volumes.

“We can also add more capacity if needed in our assembly lines. We are not regionally limited there; being able to use the different facilities we have in both the US and Sweden, in addition to China and India. We can balance that demand between the sites.”

Ivanplats to trial Epiroc battery-electric drills and LHDs at Platreef mine

Epiroc says it has won a significant order for battery-electric mining equipment from Ivanplats that will be used to develop its greenfield Platreef mine in South Africa in the “most sustainable and productive manner possible”.

Ivanplats, a subsidiary of Canada-based Ivanhoe Mines, has ordered several Boomer M2 Battery face drill rigs and Scooptram ST14 Battery LHDs (pictured).

These machines will be trialled during the Platreef underground mine’s initial development phase, Epiroc said, adding that Ivanplats has the ambition to use all battery-electric vehicles in its mining fleet at Platreef.

The order exceeds ZAR150 million ($10.2 million) in value and was booked in the June quarter of 2021.

Ivanhoe indirectly owns 64% of the Platreef project through its subsidiary, Ivanplats. The South Africa beneficiaries of the approved broad-based, black economic empowerment structure have a 26% stake in the project, with the remaining 10% owned by a Japanese consortium of ITOCHU Corporation, Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation, and Japan Gas Corporation.

The Platreef 2020 feasibility study builds on the results of the 2017 feasibility study and is based on an unchanged mineral reserve of 125 Mt at 4.4 g/t 3PGE+Au, project designs for mining, and plant and infrastructure as in the 2017 study; except with an increased production rate from 4 Mt/y to 4.4 Mt/y, in two modules of 2.2 Mt/y, for annual production of more than 500,000 oz of palladium, platinum, rhodium and gold; plus more than 35 MIb of nickel and copper.

The initial plan is to start at a mining rate of 700,000 t/y before scaling up. An updated feasibility study on the plan is expected to be published before the end of the year.

Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, said it was “encouraging” that Ivanplats is considering going all battery-electric at Platreef.

“Battery-electric equipment is increasingly embraced by mining companies as it provides a healthier work environment, lower total operating costs and higher productivity,” she said. “The technology is now well established, and Epiroc is driving this change toward emissions-free mining.”

Marna Cloete, Ivanhoe Mines’ President and CFO, said: “We want to be at the forefront of utilising battery electric, zero-emission equipment at all of our mining operations. This partnership with Epiroc for emissions-free mining equipment at the Platreef Mine is an important first step towards achieving our net-zero carbon emissions goals while mining metals required for a cleaner environment.”

Boomer M2 Battery face drill rigs and Scooptram ST14 Battery loaders are built in Sweden, and are automation-ready and equipped with Epiroc’s telematics solution Certiq.

The equipment will be delivered early to Platreef in 2022. Epiroc will also provide on-site operator and maintenance training to Ivanplats, it said.

Epiroc intends to offer its complete fleet of underground mining equipment as battery-electric versions by 2025, and its full fleet for surface operations as battery-powered versions by 2030.

Epiroc strengthens mine safety and productivity offering with Mining TAG buy

Epiroc has acquired Mining Tag SA, a Chile-based company that, the OEM says, provides sensor-based solutions to strengthen safety and productivity in mines by making operations smarter.

Mining Tag develops and implements sensor-based solutions that allow monitoring, automation and process improvement of mining operations, Epiroc explained. The solutions are mainly used in underground mining. Its solutions include MT OneMine for increased productivity and MT Guardian, a personnel and asset tracking system, for improved safety.

Mining Tag is active in several countries in Latin America. It has previously worked with Codelco on installing its MT OneMine fleet management system to manage the LHD fleet in the macroblocks 01, 02 and 03 North and South of the Production Level at Chuquicamata. It has about 120 employees and had revenues in 2020 of about $7 million, according to Epiroc.

Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, said: “Intelligent mining solutions are the future. Together with the innovative team at Mining Tag, we will strengthen our smart digitalisation offering to customers in Latin America and beyond.”

Epiroc to supply drill rigs, bolters, loaders and trucks to Mexico’s CoMinVi

Epiroc says it has won a large order for underground mining equipment from Mexican contractor CoMinVi for use at several mines throughout the country.

CoMinVi SA de CV, headquartered in Guanajuato, Mexico, has ordered a variety of Epiroc machines, including face drilling rigs, production drilling rigs, rock reinforcement rigs, loaders and mine trucks. The equipment will ensure the mines are operated with strengthened productivity, safety and cost efficiency, the OEM said.

The machines will be used at several mines in Mexico where CoMinVi serves as mining contractor. Aftermarket services such as on-site maintenance supervisor and spare parts consignment will be provided by Epiroc.

The total order value of the equipment exceeds $45 million, of which the majority was booked in the June quarter of 2021. The remaining part is expected to be booked in the second half of 2021.

“We are proud to partner with CoMinVi to enhance safety, productivity and sustainability in their operations,” Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, said. “The equipment and services will support CoMinVi to successfully execute on their mining projects.”

Rafael Villagómez Contreras, CoMinVi’s CEO, said: “The acquisition of this new equipment is a historical part of CoMinVi’s growth in recent years and represents a competitive advantage for us. It will ensure our ability to respond immediately to our potential customers by having the necessary resources that allow us to be one step ahead of our competition. We are very satisfied with the commercial partnership with Epiroc as this is a long-term relationship that will be supported with a high-level technical backup and a reliable supply.”

The equipment includes Boomer face drilling rigs, Simba production drilling rigs, Boltec rock reinforcement rigs, Scooptram loaders and Minetruck haulers. The machines will be equipped with Epiroc’s Certiq system, which allows for intelligent monitoring of machine performance and productivity in real time, and some of the units will have Epiroc’s Rig Control System, RCS, installed. This system makes them ready for automation and remote control.

The equipment is to be delivered in 2021 and 2022.

Epiroc boosts mine network offering with 3D-P acquisition

Epiroc has announced its second acquisition in two weeks, adding 3D-P, a Canada-based company that provides wireless connectivity solutions for surface mining, to its expanding portfolio.

3D-P, based in Calgary, provides reliable wireless connectivity solutions for mining companies within surface mining.

As Epiroc explains, a robust wireless network is crucial to enable mining automation, including teleremote and autonomous operations. 3D-P is active in North America, Chile, Peru and Australia, offering a variety of networking solutions to miners including “hybrid LTE”. It has about 50 employees and had revenues in 2020 of about $12 million, according to Epiroc.

The 3D-P buy follows an announcement on May 28 that Epiroc had agreed to acquire Kinetic Logging Services Pty Ltd, an Australia-based company that provides mining companies with geophysical logging services.

Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, said having reliable, high-quality wireless connectivity is key for mining companies that invest in automation and digitalisation to strengthen safety and productivity.

“We are happy to welcome the excellent team at 3D-P to Epiroc,” she said. “Together we will ensure that our customers succeed on their automation and digitalisation journey.”

Epiroc to improve miners’ geological models with Kinetic Logging Services buy

Epiroc has agreed to acquire Kinetic Logging Services Pty Ltd, an Australia-based company that provides mining companies with geophysical logging services.

Based in Perth, Kinetic Logging Services provides mining technology measurement services to build improved geological models to help mining companies increase productivity, Epiroc says. The company’s flagship product is OreSight, a solution that provides near real-time borehole assay data and grade information. Mining companies feed this data directly into their blast pad models, allowing them to make improved decisions on production and ore blending.

The company is part of MPC Kinetic Holdings, has about 180 employees and has annual revenues of about A$30 million ($23 million).

MPC Kinetic says it operates the world’s only semi-automated high efficiency downhole assay service, with its OreSight vehicle replacing outdated methodology that generated a large quantity of physical samples that needed to be transported for analysis. ​OreSight instead allows for the collection of geochemical data using FastGrade tools on blast pads which see 50-60 holes logged in a 12-hour shift with data automatically transferred via 4G to a real-time operations centre – OreSight Central – for analysis.

Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, said: “Epiroc is looking forward to welcome the great team at Kinetic Logging Services to the Epiroc Group. Together, we will provide a wide range of smart products and services that strengthen mining customers’ end-to-end productivity, and we look forward to bringing OreSight to our customers around the world.”

The acquisition is expected to be completed this quarter.

Epiroc to acquire Meglab as part of battery-electric mining equipment push

Epiroc has agreed to acquire Meglab, a Canada-based company with expertise in providing electrification infrastructure solutions to mines, as it looks to further support mining customers in their transition to battery-electric vehicles.

Meglab, based in Val-D’Or, Quebec, Canada, is a technology integrator that designs, manufactures, installs and supports practical and cost-effective electrification and telecommunications infrastructure solutions to customers in several countries. Its products and solutions include system design, substations, switchgears and automation system solutions, enabling the infrastructure needed for mine electrification and equipment charging solutions, as well as for digitalisation and automation of operations, Epiroc says. It has more than 240 employees and had revenues in 2020 of about C$49 million ($39 million).

Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, said: “Epiroc is proud to be the leader in providing battery-electric vehicles for the mining industry, improving customers’ work environment and lowering their emissions while increasing their productivity. The acquisition of Meglab will strengthen our capacity to provide the infrastructure required as mines transition to battery-electric vehicles.”

The acquisition is expected to be completed in the June quarter, with the purchase price not material relative to Epiroc’s market capitalisation, the mining OEM said. The business will become part of Epiroc’s Parts & Services division and will continue to be based in Canada.

In a separate release, Meglab said the two comapanies collective goal is to develop the mine of the future, with the organisations pooling its respective assets and expertise in pursuit of this target.

“Together, we will position ourselves as the leaders of all-electric and intelligent mines,” it said. “This synergy will provide various growth opportunities worldwide, both for Meglab and for the team members that will collaborate with their co-workers in this new expanded team.”

Epiroc commits to ‘next generation’ of underground mining with new Boomer M20

Epiroc has taken what Niklas Berggren, Global Product Manager for Face Drilling Equipment, says is the next logical development step in underground face drilling design by creating a new Boomer with protected hydraulics, sensors and cables.

The Epiroc Boomer M20 is designed and built to minimise unplanned stops and maximise uptime and performance in highly demanding operations by removing what is thought to be the biggest downtime drain in underground face drilling – the need to stop production for hose changes.

Epiroc explains: “A challenging part of underground work is the everyday wear and tear on hydraulic hoses. Falling rocks and debris, and the continuous wear against the tunnel floor and walls, means constant hose repairs.”

The Boomer M20’s heavy duty hose-less boom design minimises unplanned stops for hose repairs, keeping the rig up and running even in the toughest conditions, the company said.

Developed in close collaboration with key customers, the Boomer M20 is the result of extensive research and real-world testing, according to Berggren.

“This is the perfect choice for mining houses and contractors that want to out-drill the competition through innovation,” he said.

High drilling precision and performance are ensured thanks to on-board automation features, tele-remote capabilities and digital drill plans, which give higher reliability and quality of the full drill cycle, Epiroc claims.

By utilising high performance mine development options, such as Epiroc’s ABC Regular for longer rounds, higher accuracy, reduced overbreak and better quality tunnels, the Boomer M20 allows the operator to adjust and download drill plans directly at the face, eliminating the need for adjustments on the surface, Epiroc says.

“With digital drill plan handling, drill rounds will be longer, more precise and give far less overbreak,” Berggren said. “We have seen total cost savings of up to 25% and up to a 40% productivity increase.”

He added: “This is a very well-functioning option; on the Boomer M20, we have reinforced the technology on the face drilling rig itself so that we can utilise this option better in a harsh mining environment.”

The Boomer M20 is designed with safety at its core.

Through tele-remote capabilities, operators can drill from a safe distance away from hazardous areas at the tunnel face, while also keeping production going over shift changes. Multi-functional joysticks mean operators can always keep their eyes on the task. The cabin, reinforced with noise and vibration dampening materials to keep noise levels as low as 65 db, meanwhile, is designed for optimum visibility.

The safe bolting platform is another great safety feature that avoids operation under unsupported rock.

Such options set the Boomer M20 up to “take the lead for face drilling automation features into the future”, Berggren said.

Epiroc is continuing its charge towards electrification in underground mining with the new Boomer M20, providing a battery-electric driveline option to allow the machine to tram to the drill location on battery power and carry out drilling while plugged into the mine’s electrical infrastructure.

“A battery-powered Boomer M20 brings additional savings on health, maintenance, ventilation and cooling,” Epiroc said.

Berggren added: “With the on-board charger, the operator does not need to plan for charging as it automatically takes place while connected to the grid for drilling. Thanks to the high-capacity battery, the Boomer M20 has a fantastic driving range, and there is nothing to disturb the drift cycle.”

Epiroc President and CEO, Helena Hedblom, who stars in a campaign video for the Boomer M20 that sees the face drill balancing on its booms on a mountain top, said: “The Boomer M20 is another great example of how we make a difference through innovation.”

The Boomer M20 is available for commercial sales in the September quarter of 2021, and will shortly head to a customer site in Australia for tests, followed by trials at customer sites in Spain and Sweden.

Epiroc says it plans to rollout the new internal hydraulics design across the future Boomer range.

Epiroc continues to build equipment order book in Q4

Epiroc continued to register strong demand for its equipment in the December quarter, with the mining OEM’s order intake increasing both in the underground and surface mining segments, the company reported today.

Headline numbers from the December quarter included a 1% year-on-year increase in orders received to SEK9.3 billion ($1.1 billion), a 5% drop in revenues to SEK9.8 billion, a 10% increase in operating profit to SEK2.2 billion and a higher operating margin of 22.6%, compared with 19.6% a year earlier.

In terms of its equipment, Epiroc said orders received increased 26% organically to SEK2.97 billion in the last quarter of 2020.

Speaking to IM shortly after the results were released, Helena Hedblom, Epiroc CEO, explained: “The equipment orders…were across our portfolio, and the good thing is there were not that many large orders in the quarter; it was many small- and medium-sized orders.”

This would imply the strength in equipment demand – which came from both the underground mining and open-pit mining segment – is broad across the industry, coming not just from the major miners.

This pattern was also seen in the September quarter of 2020 when the company recorded a 25% year-on-year organic increase in equipment orders in the period, with the majority of orders coming from small- to medium-sized contracts of, say, one or two pieces of equipment, Hedblom said at the time of the results release.

Looking at the wider equipment and service segment of the business – which provides rock drilling equipment, equipment for mechanical rock excavation, rock reinforcement, loading and haulage, ventilation systems, drilling equipment for exploration, water, oil and gas, as well as related spare parts and service for the mining and infrastructure industries – Epiroc said the share of orders from equipment in this segment was 43% in the December quarter. Service, meanwhile, represented 57% of the orders.

Epiroc said it expected demand, both for equipment and aftermarket, to remain stable in the near term, while cautioning: “Uncertainty, however, still remains regarding the COVID-19 development and any further related restrictions.”

In the results release, Hedblom said automation, digitalisation and electrification solutions were in high demand over the quarter, with the company connecting more and more machines over this time frame.

“We continue to win orders and we are proud of our market-leading solutions that are globally deployed and proven,” she said. “They enable increased productivity, safety and sustainability for our customers.”

When questioned about the planned acquisition of MineRP, announced late in the quarter, Hedblom said the combination of the MineRP platform with its own digital solutions would allow Epiroc to “become a better productivity partner” in a mine’s digital journey.

IM also got Hedblom’s thoughts on if there was a regional difference in the speed of uptake of ‘new technology’ in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. She said: “I see this technology shift coming in a different light with the pandemic. Sustainability is coming in; digital tools are becoming more and more natural as we need them.

“There is maybe an acceptance that the technology is here to stay, is available and customers want to jump on this journey now. I see it across all regions, which is a bit different to how the mining industry has adopted new technologies in the past.

“We have good traction everywhere now when it comes to new technologies.”

And, on the subject of ‘new technology’ uptake, IM asked Hedblom if she saw any parallels between the evolution of automated equipment adoption in the mining sector – which started with solely new autonomous equipment purchases to improve operations and moved towards a combination of retrofits and new equipment as the technology gained traction – and how companies may look to leverage mine electrification underground.

She answered: “I think it is too early to say yet. If I look into the coming 5-10 years, conversion of existing fleet will be one way to speed up the electrification journey. That is also why we are investing and developing these types of products to allow us to offer retrofits as part of the mid-life rebuild process, for example.”

The company confirmed back in November that its battery-electric retrofit solution for diesel-powered machines is expected to launch in the March quarter of 2021.

Epiroc strengthens digitalisation offering with MineRP acquisition

Epiroc has agreed to acquire MineRP, a software company majority owned by Dundee Precious Metals that specialises in increasing productivity for mines through integrated planning, execution and analytics.

MineRP has offices in South Africa, Canada, Australia and Chile. The company supports large and medium-sized mines globally in strengthening and optimising their operational efficiency by providing a software platform solution that integrates all technical mining data and other information such as machine data and ERP systems. MineRP has about 200 employees and had revenues of about $16 million for the 12 months ending June 30, 2020.

Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, said: “This acquisition fits well into Epiroc’s focus on supporting mining companies on their digitalisation journey. The combination of MineRP’s platform capabilities with Epiroc’s digital solutions, partners and global presence has the potential to transform the way that mines operate.

“MineRP is a high-quality software provider with significant experience of connecting mines from pit to port and, together, we will continue to make mining customers’ operations even more smart, safe and seamless.”

The business will become part of Epiroc’s Digital & Technology division.

While Epiroc did not disclose the acquisition price, in a separate press release Dundee Precious Metals said the consideration for its fully-diluted 70% equity interest in MineRP and the repayment of DPM shareholder loans included:

  • Around $40 million in cash representing the estimated portion payable to DPM on closing of the transaction; and
  • Potential additional payments in the form of an earn-out of up to $28.7 million representing the portion payable to DPM upon the achievement of certain MineRP revenue targets in 2021 and 2022.

The acquisition is expected to be completed, after regulatory approvals, in the first half of 2021.