This decision forms part of Caterpillar’s (CAT) strategic initiative to restructure and optimise its manufacturing footprint and will resultantly stop taking orders for underground equipment.
Despite this, Barloworld Equipment (Barloworld), the CAT dealer for southern Africa has assured its valued Southern African customers that it is “business as usual” and that the company will continue to offer full service and support for all CAT products owned by customers.
CAT announced its intention to pursue strategic alternatives, including possible divestiture of its underground mining room and pillar products; while it will also discontinue the manufacture of track drills.
However, CAT remains committed to underground mining, which it sees as an attractive and growing long-term industry.
The company said in a statement that is seeking to concentrate its underground mining product portfolio on those areas with the highest support requirements and greatest future opportunities.
Barloworld Equipment CEO Designate Emmy Leeka says that itself and CAT remain committed to and will continue to support all their customers.
He added that the southern African operation will not be significantly affected by the CAT product review.
The two mechanised mining methods used for underground coal extraction in Africa are room and pillar and longwall mining methods. Barloworld has less than 5% market share of the underground soft rock room and pillar segment.
“Therefore, this decision will not significantly affect existing business plans. We remain committed to supporting our customers and the existing fleet in operation,” says Leeka.
Barloworld’s soft rock Longwall market share in Southern Africa stands at 50% and the Barloworld/CAT strategy is to continue to support and grow this segment.
Barloworld notes that it will be looking at alternative competitive products to complement the extensive drill and underground range provided by CAT.
“Barloworld and CAT remain committed to an extensive mining product portfolio. We see mining as an attractive long-term industry in which we will continue to invest,” Leeka concludes .