As one of the world’s largest coal producers, and with South Africa having the second-largest fleet of continuous miners in the world after the US, the country is a strategic base for Germany-headquartered coal mining machinery manufacturer Eickhoff.
Eickhoff South Africa MD Francois van Tonder tells Engineering News that the company’s first prototype continuous miner was introduced to the South African coal mining industry in 2003, with production of the first continuous miner in 2006.
“Since the Eickhoff continuous miner’s first concept design, it has been continuously refined, in close cooperation with our customer’s requirements, to meet the highest standards in terms of cost, safety, productivity and maintainability,” he explains.
Van Tonder notes that South Africa is the largest contributor to the group’s continuous miner’s income and that they anticipate that, as more mining jurisdictions across the continent mature into underground mines, the contribution will grow significantly.
Established 31 years ago, Eickhoff South Africa’s primary focus in South Africa is the sale, repair and rebuild of continuous miners and industrial gearboxes.
“From a strategic point of view, South Africa is regarded as very important to the expansion of the continuous miner business, as it is the testing ground for new innovation and the design of its machinery and components. All information gathered in South Africa is relayed back to the German engineers for analysis and further product enhancements,” he elaborates.
Van Tonder states that Eickhoff South Africa started remodelling its Johannesburg site about two years ago, which involved the renovation of the repair workshop, an increased focus on services and maintenance, as well as an increase in the marketing and sales of continuous miners and industrial gearboxes.
The company’s gearbox range includes gearboxes for planetary conveyors, crushers and mixers, as well as for fan drives and wind turbines, among other applications.
“We envisage that, as more renewable-energy projects in the country and on the continent get under way, demand for our wind turbine gearboxes will increase,” says Van Tonder, adding that some of Eickhoff’s industrial gearboxes are currently operational in Zambia, Namibia, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Mauritius.
Van Tonder says the company’s mining machinery and gearboxes are well known for reliability and robust design. For instance, the continuous miners have proven outstanding capabilities in the toughest conditions in South African coal mines.
“We have experienced and capable designers and engineers in Germany and, coupled with our local field service technicians, we are able to offer the best products
,” he concludes.