Market Insight: The Impact of Depressed Global Commodity Prices on Sub-Saharan Africa's Mining Industry


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Market Insight: The Impact of Depressed Global Commodity Prices on Sub-Saharan Africa's Mining Industry

  1. 1. July 2013 James Fungai Maposa, Frost & Sullivan’s Programme Manager for Mining & Manufacturing, Africa “50 Years of Growth, Innovation & Leadership” The Impact of Depressed Global Commodity Prices on Sub-Saharan Africa’s Mining Industry Market Insight
  2. 2. The Impact of Depressed Global Commodity Prices on Sub-Saharan Africa’s Mining Industry Market Insight © 2013 Frost & Sullivan Page 2 The first half of the year has been extremely difficult for the sub-continent and the rest of the globe’s mining industry. Global commodity prices, for most commodities, have continued to plummet, operating costs continued to soar, and margins remained under pressure. Most of the world’s leading mining companies have heeded to dissatisfied shareholders, reducing respective expenditures and shelving some of their planned high-risk, high-value capital expansion projects. Asian demand for mined mineral commodities continues to be flat, implying more tough times ahead for the globe’s mining sector, writes James Maposa, Programme Manager for Industrial Automation, Mining & Manufacturing at growth consulting firm, Frost & Sullivan. To sustain or enhance profitability, companies extracting minerals in Africa are expected to adopt new business models that prioritise the integration of mechanical equipment and other enabling technologies to improve efficiency, effectiveness and profitability. In addition, the adoption of more advanced systems, such as process automation technologies, is also expected to rise as mining companies invest in improving their strengths to offset the risks and challenges prevailing within the external environment. This integration of mechanical equipment and automation technologies is expected to create sizeable supply opportunities for equipment, consumables and other technology suppliers into sub-Saharan Africa’s mining industry. What does the future hold for sub-Saharan Africa’s mining industry? Over the short and medium terms, local mining companies are expected to continue to implement a cautious spending approach, which will be focused on limiting both capital and operational expenditures to critical spends. With the exception of ongoing development projects, investors in Africa’s mining sector will prefer to fund the smaller-sized, lower-risk projects as opposed to the larger-sized, higher-risk investment opportunities. Mechanisation of the regional mining sector is expected to rise significantly during the latter stages of the medium term. Although mining companies are expected to encounter significant resistance from regional governments and labour unions, mechanical equipment adoption rates are expected to rise, driven by escalating labour costs, declining ore grades and a rise in deeper- level mining activities. Technology adoption rates are also expected to increase as new inventions will render commercially unviable deposits viable. Boards and senior management teams of global mining companies with geographically distributed assets are expected to install systems that enable them to gather information on these assets in real time. Installation of these advanced information technology systems will allow the aforementioned to make quicker and more informed decisions. Companies that own and operate mature mines are also expected to integrate technologies that enable them to recover more of the mined commodity from declining ore grades. It is also anticipated that the industry will replace energy-inefficient systems with more efficient technologies that reduce these mining companies’ annual energy spends, in particular the mineral processing phase, which is energy-intensive. Infrastructure shortages within sub-Saharan Africa will prompt most mining companies to
  3. 3. include the cost of constructing the necessary infrastructure to ensure that they are able to extract and transport their mined commodities to respective Asian, European and North American market destinations. Partnering with respective regional governments and other public and private sector agencies to construct roads, railways and ports is a strategy that most mining companies are expected to adopt to ensure sustained success within sub- Saharan Africa. In addition, to ensure sustained demand for respective mined commodities, mining companies are also exploring entering the sub-continent’s beneficiation sector. The sub-continent’s urbanisation and industrialisation is expected to create significant supply opportunities for locally manufactured beneficiated products. Most of the region’s leading mining companies are conducting investigative studies to identify beneficiation industries that they can enter into, through the identification of key trade, and establishing operational and financial partnerships in order to ensure market success. What do the above initiatives mean for mining value chain stakeholders? Equipment suppliers - Over the next few years the sub-Saharan African mining sector is expected to significantly increase its mechanical equipment purchases, driven by the need to improve operational efficiency. Escalating operational costs will see mining companies investing in equipment that can help them reduce these costs, notes Frost & Sullivan. Regional equipment suppliers should, therefore, position themselves to fully benefit from the anticipated rise in the mining sector’s mechanical equipment demand. Although equipment supply opportunities are anticipated to rise substantially, regional suppliers will face intense competition from lower-priced Asian imports. Regional suppliers should prioritise being competitive on price within an end-user sector that has become increasingly price sensitive due to the sector’s tightening expenditure. Engineering, procurement, construction and management companies (EPCMs) - A rise in regional mining activity is a factor that will contribute to an increment in the sub- continent’s demand for EPCM services over the next 10 to 20 years. EPCMs will be engaged to construct, operate and maintain mines, processing facilities, transport, logistics, power generation and distribution infrastructure. A proven track record in terms of expertise and experience is something that EPCMs can showcase to be engaged by mining companies to develop and operate the mining infrastructure. Consumable suppliers - A larger installed base of mechanical equipment within sub-Saharan Africa’s mining industry is a factor that will also raise the sector’s demand for consumables that include fuel, lubricants, filtration products and tyres. A projected rise in the sub- region’s mining throughput and output will increase consumption rates of the aforementioned consumables. To fully benefit from potential supply opportunities, consumable suppliers should invest in aggressive marketing campaigns that are aimed at keeping them top of mind within these priority end-user markets. In addition, establishing in-country presence within growing mining economies and forming partnerships with key equipment suppliers are among the other strategies that consumable suppliers can adopt to enhance respective market positions. © 2013 Frost & Sullivan Page 3 The Impact of Depressed Global Commodity Prices on Sub-Saharan Africa’s Mining Industry Market Insight
  4. 4. © 2013 Frost & Sullivan Page 4 Chemicals and explosive suppliers - Exploration, extraction and processing activities are expected to rise considerably over the next few years. Significant investment will be committed toward developing Africa’s base, energy and precious mining industry. Increased extraction and processing of the mineral commodity groups is a factor that will raise the sub-region’s mining sector chemicals and explosives demand. Competitive pricing, ease of use, effective route-to-market and a wider geographic presence are strategies that chemical manufacturers can explore to maintain a strong market position within Africa’s growing mining industry. In conclusion, Frost & Sullivan expects the mining sector in sub-Saharan Africa to grow, evolve and modernise over the next 10 to 20 years. Modernisation of the sub-continent’s mining sector will be aimed at regional mining companies remaining competitive in a market where returns are low due to declining global commodity prices. To remain competitive, African mining companies should follow in the same vein as their Australian, Canadian and Russian counterparts by investing in equipment and technologies that reduce production costs and improve operational effectiveness and efficiency. Adoption of such a trend will, therefore, create substantial opportunities for the regional mining sector’s leading equipment, consumables, EPCMs, and chemicals and explosive suppliers. For more information on Frost & Sullivan’s analysis of metals and mining in Africa, please contact Samantha James – The Impact of Depressed Global Commodity Prices on Sub-Saharan Africa’s Mining Industry Market Insight About Frost & Sullivan Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, works in collaboration with clients to leverage visionary innovation that addresses the global challenges and related growth opportunities that will make or break today’s market participants. For more than 50 years, we have been developing growth strategies for the Global 1000, emerging businesses, the public sector and the investment community. Is your organisation prepared for the next profound wave of industry convergence, disruptive technologies, increasing competitive intensity, Mega Trends, breakthrough best practices, changing customer dynamics and emerging economies? CONTACT US • +27 (0) 21 680 360 •