VDMA Mining’s headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany.

Klaus Stöckmann, Deputy Managing Director for the VDMA Mining Association, gives his outlook for the mining sector through 2020 and beyond

Against the general trend in German mechanical engineering, 2019 was a record year for mining equipment manufacturers. This is shown by the latest figures.

The VDMA expects sales to rise by 38% to around 5 billion euros (US$5.4 billion). This shows how strongly German mining technology is in demand worldwide. Exports rose roughly by 20%. The USA, China, Canada, Russia and Australia are currently the largest individual markets, but expectations for 2020 are restrained.

“With regard to geopolitical developments, both in terms of trade and environmental policy, 2020 is not expected to be an easy year,” Stöckmann said. “We hope revenues are at least maintained.”

VDMA visit to Singareni Collieries Company Ltd’s Adriyala underground coal mine in India in 2015. The organization is working hard to introduce its members and their solutions to potential new business partners.

In contrast to many decision-makers in politics, the raw materials industry is characterized by a long-term approach, Stöckmann explained. “However, the growing global population and an increasing claim for participation in prosperity leads to a positive basic orientation and, on this basis, we expect business to stagnate in 2020, but demand for mining technology to remain good in the medium term,” Stöckmann said.

Promoting German Expertise and Quality

To serve its clients in the future, Stöckmann believes the performance of suppliers from Germany must be known worldwide. This is why VDMA Mining organizes joint booths at the most important mining trade fairs worldwide, and why they arrange delegation trips to new markets or invite representatives of mining companies to Germany to get to know the suppliers. “As a result of these activities, both sides get to know each other better,” Stöckmann said.

The German Pavilion at the China Coal & Mining Expo in 2019.

From these activities VDMA Mining has learned that profitable future mining depends on many factors; currently, environmental aspects are in the foreground. Ultimately, however, investors want to see returns and the figures must be right. In addition to a good deposit, economic demand and the ‘license to operate’ issued by civil society, many other factors play a role in successful raw material extraction, Stöckmann explained. “The most important factor for us as solution providers is modern, efficient, reliable and safe technology,” Stöckmann said.

Mining equipment manufacturers are increasingly relying on machinery and equipment used in hardrock mining to meet the demands of the digital age. The digital future will consume many different metals. “Without them, and without our technology and products, digitization would simply not be possible,” Stöckmann said. “Data and energy are the basis for the future, but without raw materials there would be neither energy nor data.”

To guarantee state-of-the-art technology that is both sustainable and safe for VDMA Mining’s global customers, digital technology is increasingly being used. The intelligent combination of mechanics, electronics and communication devices is the key to efficient, resource-saving and environmentally safe raw material production, Stöckmann explained.

Collaborating For a Better Future

Within VDMA Mining, member companies are working on solutions for the digitalized mine of the future. “To this end, and with the help of the VDMA, they cooperate with other companies, for example from the software or automation industry, which for their part have often already developed digitally supported new solutions in cooperation with customers,” Stöckmann said. “This collaboration demonstrates the capabilities of the VDMA as the largest industrial network in Europe and its members. “

In addition, its partnership with the most important mining faculties in Aachen, Bochum, Clausthal and Freiberg — as part of this cooperative effort — should also be mentioned in this context.

Finally, another part of VDMA Mining’s network is the German Mining Network (http://germanmining.net). Six international Competence Centers for Mining and Mineral Resources are co-located with the respective bilateral German Chambers (AHKs) in the most important commodity producing countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Peru and Southern Africa). The German Mining Network informs both German companies about the raw materials situation in the countries concerned, and the raw materials industry there about supply opportunities for mining technology from Germany.

“For the year that has recently begun, we hope that this edition of the Best of Germany inspires many readers to contact our member companies to discuss the best technology from Germany,” Stöckmann said. “We are also happy to keep you informed about the latest developments in the industry: become part of our network and read our newsletter regularly.” To register, contact: alexandra.landgraf@vdma.org.