Which market trends will affect the mining equipment industry in 2019?

While the current upturn in the mining equipment cycle looks set to continue, the dynamics are changing. Analyst Matthew Gilewicz from The Parker Bay Company gives us the lowdown on six market trends to watch out for.

Mining equipment

1. Autonomous driverless equipment is slowly (but surely) on the rise

It’s perhaps unsurprising that more mining manufacturers are investing in autonomous trucks, drills and dozers. Although adoption rates have been slow – and autonomous equipment still only accounts for around 2% of total sales currently – we do expect further growth in the next three to five years­.

2. Companies are switching to natural gas and electric power

We’re seeing substantial opportunity when it comes to switching from diesel power equipment to natural gas and electric going forward. A number of third-party companies are even offering diesel-to-gas conversions for OEM equipment, so these – as well as and electric trolley assist technologies for moving away from (or using less) diesel – will continue to grow in popularity.

3. Copper and iron are on the rise

Looking at the expansion cycle so far, gold has seen significant market improvement, and iron and copper are now making stronger gains. In Australia and South America, copper and iron mines are beginning to take on additional equipment deliveries. We anticipate this continuing – and copper will probably become more important than coal for overall growth. Coal, however, continues to be the single most important mineral market for mining equipment manufacturers.

4. Tech improvements mean mining equipment will last longer…

Numerous clever developments in the areas of equipment monitoring, fleet management fatigue and proximity detection have not only improved safety – which is key – but also equipment performance, and the longevity of the equipment itself. This is excellent news for the miners.

5. …but replacement needs will continue to drive demand higher

From 2003 to 2012, the sector saw tremendous growth, with the only negative quarters a result of the 2008 financial crash. We then had a period of downturn which levelled out in the second quarter of 2016. Going forward, there’s likely to be a sustained period of slower growth, driven mainly by replacement of equipment commissioned early in the super-cycle. A steady increase from where we are now will continue, at least for the short- to medium-term.

6. Industry growth rates might be declining – but we’ll see positive numbers in the New Year

2017 was up 70% on the previous year and we anticipate deliveries in the final quarter of 2018 to be up another 30% on last year. But moving forward, a relatively steady decline in that growth rate will take place – and while we’ll see positive growth numbers in 2019, these will probably be closer to single digit figures as opposed to the highs of 30% in 2018/17.

Matthew Gilewicz is a Senior Associate & Partner at The Parker Bay Company, a research house that specialises in market intelligence data and analysis for the mining equipment industry

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