“The mining industry in West Africa has taken a serious toll on the environment and companies are now doing what they can to reduce the impact of these operations. Mincon is endeavoring to manufacture environmentally friendly tools, and we are now looking at long-term projects for proper recycling of disposed devices, such as discarded rock drilling tools.”
How extensive are Mincon’s presence and scope of services in West Africa?
Mincon as a whole has been in business for over 40 years now. In respect to West Africa, we incorporated a company in Senegal in 2010 with the main purpose of bringing our products closer to the market in the region. We have customers across Africa, with an emphasis on Francophone West African countries.
Establishing a physical presence in West Africa has allowed us to be closer to our customers. Due to efficiency in transporting inventory, we hold stock offshore, but we have employees based in West Africa that work closely with our customers and provide training and technical support for continued improvement and optimization of their projects.
Could you give us an overview of Mincon’s core portfolio?
Our main portfolio consists of DTH products, including hammers and drill bits. We also have DTH products for exploration; we focus mainly on mining and construction-related rock drilling tools. This includes everything from the rotary head on the drill down to the drill bit. We also supply horizontal drilling equipment – while not widely used in Africa, horizontal drilling is broadly used in the rest of the world.
What are the areas of greatest opportunity for Mincon within West Africa?
Demand for Mincon’s quality products and services in West Africa is growing day by day. West Africa is generally considered to be a low-cost mining environment, although perceived risk is often higher than in other parts of the world. Nevertheless, there is currently a lot of exploration activity being conducted in the region. The most attractive countries for Mincon in West Africa are probably Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Guinea. Mauritania is also improving again in gold mining.
Senegal has been involved with a lot of exploration activity in the past 15 years, which will now become profitable due to the buoyancy of the resource market. There are some strong exploration projects with good proven resources, including Randgold and Iamgold, for instance.
Considering the lower cost of the market, is quality always the first consideration and to what extent is cost an important factor?
High quality products are the preferred choice in the region, and although the importance of quality may have decreased slightly during the downturn in favor of lower cost products, it has generally been the predominant aspect over pricing. Mincon has always held quality above all else and consistently delivers products of the highest quality to clients. We enter into supply agreements where we set pricing according to certain parameters and then provide all the necessary support for them to achieve their goals.
Whilst price can be a consideration, our customers generally recognize that higher quality means increased longevity and efficiency, leading to overall cost savings. Therefore, while the initial CAPEX investment may be higher, cost per meter will be lower.
Mine locations are generally remote and logistics are often challenging. Is the infrastructure developing in the region
Logistics and supply chain infrastructure continue to present challenges and this is the main reason we decided to keep our inventory in Europe – we were unable to achieve the level of efficiency we wanted in getting our products from our stocking location to our customers. Our efficiencies have almost doubled since.
In what ways does Mincon cater to a growing emphasis on sustainability and environmental consciousness?
The mining industry in West Africa has taken a serious toll on the environment and companies are now doing what they can to reduce the impact of these operations. Mincon is endeavoring to manufacture environmentally friendly tools, and we are now looking at long-term projects for proper recycling of disposed devices, such as discarded rock drilling tools.
We are also involved in an international project for the development of what we call the Green Hammer, a DTH hammer currently being tested in Australia. Once launched, this will be a game changer for the industry, as it will enable the use of smaller machines with lower emissions, therefore polluting less and achieving the same goal at a lower cost due to higher efficiency. Additionally, Mincon engineers are continuously improving the efficiency and longevity of the tools we manufacture, which will reduce the impact on the environment and save customers money.
What are the next steps in developing Mincon's market presence in West Africa?
We are re-assessing the market to ensure our products are correctly positioned. We are looking at potential distributors and will enter into agreements with those that comply with our high standards. The decision to establish subsidiaries elsewhere in the West Africa region would be taken in the future, based on consideration to customers’ requirements. Our vision is to become the preferred supplier of all the big mines in the region, and we have achieved the goals we have set for this thus far.