Stone crushing and screening equipment play a vital role in the construction industry. This is because they provide the vital aggregates required for concrete production as well as for road construction.
In Africa where the use of concrete and road aggregate has continued to expand due to the development of needed infrastructure. The use of good quality equipment is very handy for a busy contractor with tight deadlines to meet.
However, with mineral prices down in South Africa, government spending on infrastructure is also down. This is due to less revenue generation, resulting in less investment in crushing equipment. Similarly there is some political uncertainty and changes to mining codes. This is affecting the implementation of projects as investors wait to get clarification.
In East Africa, the past few years have seen a growth in infrastructural development projects. This has accelerated the demand for road base and aggregate materials; particularly in Ethiopia. According to Seamus Doyle of McCloskey International in the United States one of the leaders in the crushing and screening industry, this has fueled a huge demand for all types of crushers. Other countries in Africa have also seen healthy demand for crushers and screens although on a smaller scale. The South African economy is still struggling to recover due to the levels previously seen in recent years. But other Southern African countries like Zambia are now showing good increases in demand.
The technological trend of mobile equipment is definitely on the rise. Many mines and contractors alike opt for mobile plant instead of traditional fixed plant. The operating cost may be more expensive. But the versatility of having a mobile crushing and screening operation is a huge advantage in a sometimes turbulent African market. This is according to Mr. Zack Beukman a Director at BG Holdings a mobile crushing and screening service provider in South Africa in South Africa. Mines and large construction jobs can come to an abrupt end. But having mobile plant means that you can move equipment to future jobs within a few days.
“Furthermore, some recent trends which BG Holdings has seen benefit from is technology that allows the access of information on plant remotely. Important information like fuel consumption, idle time, crushing time and even projected tonnages per hour can all be viewed from a smart phone or similar device,” adds Mr. Beukman.
Reception of new technologies
The African market has shown a positive response towards the new technologies being introduced in the market. Mr. Doyle mentions that, initially, the reception to mobile crushers and screens has been limited in Eastern / Western and North African countries over the last three years. But since McCloskey sold over 20 units into Ethiopia in the last 2 years demand there has increased dramatically. Other contractors begin to see the benefits of mobility and flexibility of mobile plants over stationary and wheel mounted.
Choosing the right crushing equipment
Many people focus too much on the capital cost of equipment, and not on the value of the equipment. Cap-ex is a once off investment, while your operating expenses are recurring. The equipment should be easy and safe to maintain. It is also critical that you have technical and spares back up for your equipment. Your final cost per tonne is directly relevant to the availability of your equipment. Therefore, ensure your supplier has well stocked stores, properly and regularly trained technicians to assist with technical back-up. Also ensure that all your plant equipment is permanently generating profits rather than sitting on stand-by.
Another common mistake when looking at cap-ex is trying to save money but cutting back on the initial investment. Crushing is similar to driving a car, in that you need to go through a number of gears (read crushing stages) to get to your final product. Often end-users will sacrifice a gear/crushing stage to minimize on Cap-ex expenditure. This only leads to more down time, higher operating costs, and less money in the bank.
Moreover Mr. Martin Botha the Export Sales Director at Osborn a dealer in mining and quarry equipment in South Africa adds that, a good brand name is also very important. When purchasing a crushing and screening plant, a good brand name is an indication of reliability.
The African market is not so big right now with regards to crushing and screening equipment but it is developing very fast. This is according to Mr. Riyadcan Aziz the export manager at Ugur Makina a manufacturer of crushing and screening equipment in Turkey. “Mostly, the existing crushers are equipped with old technologies and have low capacities. More has to be done to ensure the market is at par with other markets in the developed continents,” he adds.