After a lengthy consolidation phase, the mining industry recovered in 2017. The Mining division also benefited from this, increasing its sales by €281 million, or 44.0 %, compared with the previous year. In total, the division achieved revenues to the amount of €919 million.
Upward trend: clear sales growth for the Mining division
In 2017, the international mining industry saw an upward movement for the first time in five years. Amidst rising prices of raw materials, the sector’s companies also showed greater willingness to invest in trucks and excavators. They purchased new machines while also resuming operation of machines that had been placed on standstill. Additionally, companies took long overdue action to modernise their fleets. In general, a clear trend towards new purchases could be seen. Many investments focussed on increasing productivity – a clear reversal of the trend from previous years in which the focus had been on cost savings.
As a result, the Mining division also saw an upward development. With double-digit percentage increases in sales for large hydraulic excavators as well as mining trucks, the division outperformed the market level to gain new market shares. Once again, the most significant sales region turned out to be the Far East / Australia. There, as in nearly all other regions, the division reported substantial growth. Business in the key individual markets of Australia, Russia, Indonesia, South Africa and Canada was particularly favourable.
New mining trucks open market segments to Liebherr
The division successfully passed multiple milestones last year in the mining truck product range. For example, with the delivery of five T 264 mining trucks to clients in Asia, Russia and Australia, the division entered the market segment for 220-tonne class machines. The division also celebrated the premiere of the T 236, the first Liebherr truck in the 100-tonne class. Immediately after conclusion of the initial phase of testing and validation, the first of these trucks was ready for delivery to the Erzberg mine in Austria, where it proved itself during field tests. The T 236 offers an excellent cost-per-tonne ratio, thanks to its innovative Litronic Plus Generation 2 electric drive system.
The division also successfully concluded testing and validation of the T 276, which can handle load capacities of 290 to 300 tonnes. At the end of the year, this heavyweight mining truck proved itself on Liebherr’s internal testing ground. Furthermore, the Mining division made substantial progress in working on the product specification for the T 246, as well as in other ongoing development projects in the field of self-driving vehicles.
Advances in large hydraulic excavators and overarching development projects
The division also made advances in the development of its large hydraulic excavators. For example, engineers reworked the R 9100 and R 9150 models. The revisions not only allow for greater productivity, but also perfectly align these models with mining trucks with 60- and 100-tonne load capacities. Another large hydraulic excavator, the R 9600, was assembled as a prototype and prepared for initial testing. Overarching development projects focussed on the areas of energy management and efficiency, machine diagnostics, assistance systems, lightweight construction and the integration of the new D98 series of Liebherr diesel engines. Meanwhile, the division worked to expand its remanufacturing programme, with a focus on suspension components and parts for power electronics, among others.
New production technology and improved quality management
The division invested in optimising and further automating its production facilities, including two fully automated welding cells at the Newport News (VA / USA) site. In Colmar (France), it laid the organisational groundwork to start serial production of the T 236 mining truck in the year ahead. Developments in the field of quality management included pushing forward the implementation of the new version of the ISO 9001:2015 standard, as well as certification processes for various sites.
In 2017, the international mining industry saw upward movement for the first time in four years.
Positive outlook for 2018
Thanks to its full order books and a considerable investment backlog among operators of mining machinery, the division is optimistic as it looks forward to the financial year 2018. As long as the price development of raw materials remains stable, the division expects to see significant growth in revenues. The potentials that the newly developed products bring with regard to opening up new market segments make the expectations even greater. Also in the area of replacement parts and service, new opportunities for growth await.