JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – With a legacy spanning decades and a reputation for pioneering advancements, South Africa’s Bell Equipment is now placing strong new emphasis on advancing underground mining equipment.
Currently a producer of low-profile underground mining trucks as well as underground rockscalers, Bell is working strategically on complementing those products with a range of underground load, haul, dump (LHD) machines, the first of which is now completely designed for manufacture in Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal.
“I'm excited to say we've started cutting steel, we’re starting to build the test unit. It’s going to go into our regular rigorous test programming to ensure reliability and that it meets all the requirements that our customers are after. I would think we would go to market in quarter one next year with some of the new products,” Bell CEO Leon Goosen enthused to Mining Weekly in a Zoom interview. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video.)
In addition, the 51% black-owned company is launching Bell Heavy Industries, where steel-related shaft work, skips and cages required by the local mining industry are among the products being highlighted.
As is already widely known, Bell is the manufacturer and supplier of the most reliable, most fuel efficient and most technically advanced articulated dump trucks in the world.
This same competence is now being applied by Bell to the local requirements for the underground LHDs, ahead of eventually meeting the requirements of the global customer base.
“We’re already seen as the leading articulated dump truck manufacturer globally. Although that's for above-ground mining, we are definitely recognised as the technology leader with our safety aspects and our lowest cost per ton ownership. We now want to replicate that.
“We know what to do and how to do it and we're going to apply that to our underground mining equipment.
“We'll earn our right to grow so we'll make sure that we listen to feedback from our customers and meet all their requirements.
“Then, as we pursue further global growth and the products get bigger, we'll make sure those are again world-leading products, similar to what our customers are currently used to above ground,” said Goosen.
The aim is to have the lowest cost per ton unit and while most of the driveline components are imported, the rest will have a high local content in being manufactured in South Africa with local raw materials.
The 51% black-owned Bell last week reported a 42% increase in revenue for the six months ended June 30, to R6-billion, compared with the same period last year. Operating profit was up 74%, at R536-million.