“We are all really excited about the new Sandvik hub for Central Africa which is being built in Kitwe – a multi-million dollar facility using some of the latest technology.”

Andrew MareeExclusive interview with Andrew Maree, Accounts and Applications Manager – Central Africa, Sandvik Mining, who are platinum sponsors at the upcoming Copperbelt Mining Trade Expo & Conference (CBM-TEC).

What products, services and projects of Sandvik Mining and Construction Zambia are you most excited about at the moment?
As a customer orientated company Sandvik will always strive to be at the cutting edge of technology, and all projects and services are specifically targeted at improving safety, productivity and cost for our customers. Although we have some very exciting projects in progress, which I will elaborate on, we will continue to pay full attention to maintaining a high level of service to all our customers. Continual improvement and the individual needs of our customers will remain the No 1 priority with us.

There are two Sandvik projects that are particularly exciting at this stage:

  • The introduction of the new Pantera DI6400 DTH High Pressure Blast Hole Drill:
    This drill has been introduced at FQM’s Kansanshi Mine and is undergoing a trial period there. In addition to state of the art technology like GPS positioning and auto drilling it also has the new Sandvik sustainability package which will give up to 22% fuel savings. Products like this are essential to our goals of improved safety, productivity and cost.
  • The other project that we are all really excited about is the new Sandvik hub for Central Africa which is being built in Kitwe. This multi-million dollar facility is using some of the latest technology to make it one of the most environmentally friendly buildings in Zambia. The new facility will also house the following features:
    • A training centre which is a full registered training academy, with the latest training simulators to take the level training for our customers to new heights.
    • State of the art workshops with all the latest equipment to produce the best possible quality work, up to complete rebuilds.
    • New up-to-date component repair facility where all major components can be overhauled.
    • A highly efficient logistics hub which will have a comprehensive stock holding and improve delivery security to our customers.
  • Construction is under way and will be completed in December 2014. This new facility will once again be a huge step in improving safety, productivity and cost to our customers.

What makes your company competitive in this market?
Although we have reliable and productive equipment, with one of the most comprehensive aftermarket services in Zambia, the single factor that makes us extremely competitive in the market, is our people. Our entire staff is customer orientated, enthusiastic and have a passion to win.

What would you say are the main challenges in the mining industry in Zambia?
Some of the main challenges in the mining industry in Zambia are in the area of skills. Sandvik has always seen this as an integral part of our business and will continue to upgrade training facilities in order to improve safety, productivity and costs for our customers

What is your vision for the sector?
I think this is quite simple as Zambia is really a great country with great people. My vision will be for all the copper projects which are now underway, to become productive, creating jobs and income for this good nation.

What surprises you about the mining sector?
The resilience of the mining industry in Zambia is truly amazing. The global business slump in 2008 was really tough on the industry when the copper price went as low as $3000 per tonne. The Copper industry managed to pull through this very well and then had some good times with copper prices going up to over $1000 a tonne in late 2011. I   am sure that the present slump with the copper prices hovering between $6,600 and $6,700 will also be weathered with the resilience that we have seen in the past.

What advice would you give a prospective foreign investor who is interested in investing in Zambia’s mining sector?
I think that some of the larger mining houses have already experienced the stability of their investments in the country, and this has resulted in a high level of investor confidence. This is then rolled out to the smaller businesses that support the mining industry. To the new investors, the mining industry is here to stay so come and create jobs for the people.

Why did you decide to partner with CBM-TEC?
I have had many years of being involved with exhibitions like the ElectraMining in Johannesburg and find it is very well organized and professionally run. This is the first in Kitwe and we feel that it has the potential to become one of the premier mining events in Zambia.

What will be your message at the event?
Our message at the event will sustainability. Sandvik has a huge drive to give our customers the aftermarket service that they deserve. This is the main focus of our business in Zambia and the rest of the world. As once quoted by a wise old Scotsman “We are not here for the good times, we want to be here for a long time.”

What are you most looking forward to at CBM-TEC in April?
Customers! It is always good to see our customers getting off the mine and meeting them in a different environment.

Anything you would like to add?
Over the years Sandvik has become a big supporter of the Zambian community and has been heavily involved in community work.
Some examples are:

  • Every 3 months we have one 20 foot container arriving from Australia, with a wide variety of items which are distributed to the needy.
  • Sandvik supports a number of orphanages on and around the Copperbelt
  • Sandvik has supplied incubators for the baby unit at Kitwe Central Hospital and continues to support them on a monthly basis.
  • We support various schools on the Copperbelt and North Western Province including a handicapped school.
  • We have a wellness programme which was originally for staff but has been rolled out to the community some years ago. We now support peer educators who work in the community.
  • We also support health checks at numerous events.