“When Minequip started our operations in DRC in 2008, there was nearly no competition, but with the development of road infrastructure and improved public image of the DRC, we now see many new national and international entries into the market.”
What are Minequip’s primary focus areas in DRC’s mining sector?
Minequip was founded in 2008 to service the construction and mining industry in DRC. Over the last 11 years the company has expanded rapidly, evolving from a supplier of new and used equipment and parts to a full service distributor that includes rebuilt machines and components, technical maintenance, support and consultancy services. Minequip is also an authorized distributor for Atlas Copco Power T.
Could you elaborate on Minequip’s capabilities and distribution deals?
In Central Africa, we are the sole distributor for the Lincoln range of equipment, which is part of the SKF Group, and we supply, install, maintain and repair components of these lubrication systems. Because our repair facility in DRC is not ready, we still send repair components to Zambia and South Africa, but our new facility will allow us to reduce both lead times and costs significantly for our clients. We expect our repair facility to be in operation by July 2019.
The company is also involved in the repair of hydraulic cylinders. Both Minequip Technical Services and our partners, Bafokeng Hydraulics Zm, are part of the Lusanga Group based in Zambia. Bafokeng Hydraulics has invested heavily in a repair facility for cylinders where we will also be able to manufacture cylinders to specification if repair is not possible. In Zambia, a sister company in the Lusanga Group, Lusanga Technical Services, has also invested in a pump-repair facility that we can use to serve our clients.
The company now also offers a Zero Hour Rebuild program, which is focused on completely refurbishing used construction and mining equipment. The machines are stripped to their core and rebuilt as required. We have a team of approximately 35 trained and certified technicians working on full service and maintenance contracts with mining clients. Our teams will go on-site to install and maintain our client’s equipment, and we provide excellent aftersales services to our clients.
What is your perception of the availability of skilled labor in the DRC?
The DRC has a large workforce, but skilled labor is challenging to come by. Minequip has many expats leading our teams in the DRC, and we have an extensive training program. When no special equipment is required for training, the program will be conducted within the country, but we also fly our technicians to South Africa for training purposes.
In an increasingly competitive landscape, what are the key demands of the mining sector and how do you seek to meet them?
When Minequip started our operations in DRC in 2008, there was nearly no competition, but with the development of road infrastructure and improved public image of the DRC, we now see many new national and international entries into the market. I would say that the key demand from the mining industry is to have their distributors and repair maintenance facilities on or near site.
Minequip has a competitive advantage as our philosophy is not only to sell products, but rather a package. We provide aftersales services to our clients so as to help them get the best value out of their equipment, and we will have teams on or near site to provide the best possible services. In terms of competitiveness, I believe that we are fighting a fair battle.
Despite several downturns in the economy over the years, Minequip has still managed to grow. What are some of the key features of Minequip’s growth strategy?
When Minequip first started operating in the DRC, the country experienced a financial collapse. We had the mindset that it will be tough, but tomorrow it will get better, and our clients have not forgotten that we battled through the difficult times alongside them. We experienced another financial downturn in 2015, and mines requested lower prices. Once again, we accepted, because our growth strategy is to be flexible and adapt to market fluctuations. This reliability in times of need, coupled with high-quality service, is of great value to our clients.
What is Minequip’s vision and objectives moving forward?
Moving forward, Minequip would like to further develop our product and service portfolio. We are currently operating at a 40% capacity, which means that there is still a 60% possibility for growth. DRC has many opportunities, and our strategy is firstly to grow in what we already have and then diversify into additional sectors.
The company has bought a one-hectare plot where we have already built new offices, a workshop and warehouses. We are currently focused on developing this facility to take our company to the next level. For over 10 years, Minequip has supplied and provided services to the mines, and we now aim to have a facility where we can also rebuild and repair.