The surge in mining activity in the
DRC’s Katanga Province has been
accompanied by a substantial increase
in associated construction

Southern African Caterpillar dealer Barloworld Equipment has partnered with its counterpart in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tractafric Equipment, to service the growing earthmoving equipment needs of the copper and cobalt-rich Katanga Province.

Known as Congo Equipment, the joint venture aims at meeting the increasing requirements of Katanga’s mining, construction and allied industries by combining Tractafric’s presence in and knowledge of the DRC with Barloworld Equipment’s expertise in the southern African mining industry, and its strong presence in the adjacent Zambian Copperbelt, from which access to Katanga’s mining territory is relatively easy.

Barloworld Equipment is the Caterpillar dealer for South Africa and neighbouring countries, Namibia, Botswana, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique. Tractafric Equipment holds the Cat dealership for the DRC and several other French-speaking countries in Africa, including Gabon, Morocco, Chad, Cameroon, Congo (Brazzaville), Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda and Burundi.

Tractafric’s Caterpillar business in the DRC is based in capital city Kinshasa, located some 1 800 km from the Katangan capital of Lubumbashi.

Barloworld Equipment and Tractafric Equipment are currently setting up an administrative centre for the joint venture in Lubumbashi, with a full facility including parts stores and workshops which will be located in the main copper mining area around Kolwezi. “Many of our existing customers in Zambia are moving across the border into Katanga, together with some established majors and several emerging miners,” says Barloworld Equipment chief operating officer Peter Bulterman.

Congo Equipment has already secured an order for mining equipment from Phelps Dodge for its new Tenke Fungurume operation, and will also be supporting WBHO Construction with equipment for development of this site.

“We face significant challenges in securing skills to provide support for the fast-growing business, establishing efficient logistical routes and structures, and coming to grips with language issues, but both partners have the experience to tackle the tough African conditions with success,” Bulterman adds.