Mining Companies Demand Alternative Products to Keep Machines on Amid Supply Chain Challenges 

After briefly returning to pre-pandemic levels, South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 0.7% in Q2, with eight of the country’s ten manufacturing divisions reporting negative growth rates[i] due to the worsening economic environment that has been affected by continued disruptions to global supply chains[ii]. This includes mining, historically the backbone of the economy, which recorded a decrease in output by 8% year-on-year[iii]. As such, it is crucial to cement a solution to help the industry capitalise on favourable developments in global commodity markets such as stronger demand for and higher prices of coal in light of the energy crisis.  

 This is according to Clive Maasch, General Manager at Tank Industries, a leading manufacturer of connectivity solutions in the power, telecommunications and electronics markets, who says, “Although the fallout from the COVID-19 crisis still remains a primary cause of supply chain challenges, this has been exacerbated by factors such as the conflict in Ukraine, fresh lockdowns in China, and skyrocketing freight costs, amongst others – all of which are affecting the availability of crucial components used in day-to-day mining activities such as electrical power supplies.” 

 “This, in turn, impedes production,” he adds. “Consequently, there has been a surge in demand for alternative products and solutions from local suppliers. Not only does this avoid dependence on those abroad, but also eliminates reliance on a solitary supplier for certain products.” 

Maasch points out that it is vital for the mining industry to ramp up production to recover from the effects of the past three years. “However, it is also struggling financially, with South Africa now rated as one of the 10 most unattractive countries in the world for mining investment[iv]. Companies are therefore also pushing for alternative products that help defer capital expenditure.” 

  “What this means is that they are looking for effective repair and maintenance solutions to ensure the longevity of mining infrastructure,” he explains. “Electrical systems in particular require constant maintenance to ensure their reliability and safety under harsh mining conditions.” 

  “With 26% of fatalities on South African mines in the first half of this year reportedly being caused by electrical accidents, maintenance becomes all the more crucial – as does training on the proper use of alternative electrical products. Ideally, training should comply with standards such as SANS 10198 and NRS 053:2008 which deal with the selection, handling and installation of electric power cables and accessories.” 

  To bridge the gap left by supply chain disruptions, Tank Industries has added several cable and accessory product ranges to its portfolio that have applications for newly built and existing open pit and underground mines. These include electrical tapes and insulating solutions from Plymouth Rubber; specially formulated lubricants, sealants, adhesives, and cleaners from Polywater; and jointing solutions from Raychem. Training is also provided on their use along with technical support. 

 “If the past three years have shown us anything, it’s that uncertainty is the only certainty. But having an alternative supply chain solution in place can help to reduce that uncertainty somewhat. This will go a long way towards helping to build the mining industry back up into the powerhouse it once was and speed up South Africa’s economic growth in line with the global trend[v],” concludes Maasch. 

Clive Maasch, General Manager at Tank Industries