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Kopex seeks to expand Australian presence

POLISH original equipment manufacturer Kopex Group reduced its 50% stake of Inbye Mining Services to 25% in a recent transaction with the Nepean Group, but Kopex remains keen to introduce its shearers, armoured face conveyors and a new road header to the Australian market.

Blair Price
Kopex seeks to expand Australian presence

The alliance of Inbye, Kopex and Nepean won the contracts to supply the complete longwall system used at Vale’s Carborough Downs mine, with Kopex subsidiary Tagor supplying the powered roof supports.

The recent deal which made Nepean the controlling stakeholder of Inbye might have surprised some industry observers, but Kopex director of marketing and markets development Marek Mika told ILN the move was nothing extraordinary, and was assumed in the Inbye shareholders agreement since the very beginning, since 2005.

Mika said Tagor assumed a long-term cooperation with Inbye, regardless of conditions to be involved in the company’s management.

The marketing director added that Kopex still highly appreciates Inbye’s expertise in the market and wants to cooperate closely in the domain of technically advanced longwall installations.

“Roof supports will still remain the main Kopex’s product in this cooperation and saying frankly, also E-H [roof support] control systems manufactured by the German Tiefenbach Control Systems.

“Kopex has also been cooperating closely with Tiefenbach in the other markets for many years. In its daughter company, Tiefenbach Poland, Kopex is a 50 per cent shareholder.”

On marketing approaches, Mika said Kopex and Inbye had some different points of view.

“Inbye’s target and strategy is the Australian market, where the company is trying to enlarge its presence.

“We, as the Kopex Group, are a global company, developing operations in almost all the mining markets worldwide.”

Mika outlined some of the reasons why the Australian market remains valuable to Kopex.

“References gained in Australia enlarge our setup in the international competition. We are learning much, acting here with local partners.

“We contribute to create new jobs in Australia as well as to export highly processed goods from Australia to other countries – what should give us a good perception and image in your country.”

But Kopex would also like be in the position as a sole supplier of longwall systems.

“If we had a chance to provide a longwall system entirely ‘under our flag’, we would not lose such a chance,” Mika said.

Kopex seeks to further expand its presence in Australia’s longwall sector this year.

“We want to supply more sophisticated machines to Australia,” Mika said.

“Since that time [Carborough Downs longwall installation] we have developed several new products, which can fully meet Australian standards and technical expectations.

“There are, for example, very powerful and modern longwall shearers with total installed power over 2000 kW. Since the end of 2010 the latest KSW-1500 EU shearer has been operating successfully at the Longgu coal mine, in Shandong province, China."

Mika said Kopex obtained written references a few days ago, which included advice the machine had reached the biggest capacity per day for the whole Xinwen Mining Group.

Another two of the shearers will be installed in the province in 2011 and Mika expects further orders for another six next year.

The marketing director said this shearer was a very modern solution with several interesting innovations, such as the cut memory function and the water and air spraying system designed for safer operation in conditions with methane hazards.

“The KSW-1500 EU is also fully adjusted to operate with electronic superior control systems like LASC, implemented at the Carborough Downs coal mine,” Mika said.

Kopex’s shearer manufacturing subsidiary ZZM also “possesses the licence” from CSIRO for LASC applications, while it is “running” the intrinsic certification processes (ICEEx system) for its KSW-1500 EU and its powerful KSW-2000 shearers.

Last year Kopex acquired dominant Polish AFC manufacturer Ryfama in its biggest takeover yet.

Ryfama holds about 65% of the Polish AFC market and has over 100 systems in permanent operation, providing an aftermarket business considered among the best of the Kopex Group of companies.

Mika said in the last 5 years Ryfama had sold 12 coal clearance systems to Russia and five to the Czech Republic, while there were single sale installations made to Spain, Romania and Mexico.

Apart from Ryfama AFCs, Kopex will also market its KTW-200 road header in Australia this year.

“This machine is a quite new and very modern product of Kopex, however, its operation has already been proven in four Polish underground coal mines,” Mika said.

“It was operated at the depth of 700 metres and [in] compressive strength amounting to 120 megapascals.

“This machine is equipped with laser beam gate’s contouring system and many other innovations which facilitate work of operators and make their efforts safer than in older solutions.”

Back in late October 2009, Kopex acquired Waracar shuttle car manufacturer Waratah Engineering about three months after the Australian company went into voluntary administration.

Kopex made the acquisition to use Waratah’s facilities as a technical service centre for future longwall shearers and other Kopex equipment, but also put in more development to Waratah’s existing products.

Mika said in 2011 Kopex Waratah already had an order portfolio for 20 Waracars for the Australian mining industry.

“At present we can proudly say the confidence of its former customers and suppliers has been restored.”

Kopex is expecting exports of the Waracar to South Africa’s bord and pillar mining sector due to strong feedback to the shuttle car at last year’s Electra Mining exhibition.

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