A 5 t and an 8 t underground mining diesel locomotive were delivered to a large copper mining project in Kitwe, Zambia, in September by local original-equipment diesel locomotive manufacturer BG Locomotives Services, MD Dave Raper tells Engineering News.
He says the increasing importance of the African market for the company is reflected in the local sector’s mostly using electric locomotives.
However, Raper acknowledges that the company faces challenges in other African countries, which include ensuring that payments for locomotives are made on time, as it is “exceedingly challenging” to reclaim the locomotives from other African countries when there are defaults on payments.
He adds that BG Locomotives Services also faces stiff competition from German, Belgium, Indian and Chinese locomotive manufacturers.
However, offering aftermarket maintenance services to its clients in Africa, and deploying maintenance teams to Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, set it apart from international competitors.
He says that all railways in Africa that use a 1 067 mm railway gauge are suitable to use the company’s range of locomotives.
Raper points out that despite diesel locomotives not being widely used in South Africa, BG Locomotives Services regularly manufactures and services diesel locomotives for mines in Barberton, Mpumalanga.
He highlights that the company is tendering to supply two 30 t shunting locomotives to a mine in Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal.
BG Locomotives Services is also tendering to supply a 20 t locomotive to State-owned freight and logistics group Transnet for its operations in KwaZulu-Natal.
Moreover, Raper says the company is also undertaking several rebuilds and repairs of locomotives at its manufacturing and repair facility, in Wadeville, on the East Rand.
Positive Future Prospects
Raper believes that, in the next two to three years, demand will increase for the local manufacture of new diesel locomotives, owing to the ageing fleet of locomotives that are owned by most mining houses and sugar mills.
He says the inevitable need to replace old locomotives will provide BG Locomotives Services with a significant opportunity to secure several lucrative orders to manufacture new fleets.
The aftermarket servicing of locomotives forms a crucial part of the company’s operations, Raper adds.
He notes that BG Locomotives Services’ technicians train a company’s operators to effectively operate and maintain the locomotives.
Technicians are sent, once a month, for training, for about six months.
BG Locomotives Services also offers its clients a 24/7, 365-days-a-year breakdown assistance service.
The company owns six locomotives – some of which are currently in use – that local mines and sugar mills can hire.
“Our rental division is an important part of the company’s business operations and one that is increasingly popular, owing to the cost of buying new diesel locomotives,” Raper concludes.