Bradken opens $87M Chinese foundry

DESPITE recognising the challenges of a slow global market and declaring a reduction in its output and resources, global manufacturing company Bradken has opened its low-alloy steel foundry in Xuzhou, China.

Staff Reporter

The foundry adjoins an existing manufacturing workshop and has been specifically designed to manufacture the company’s crawler shoe, as well as other product lines.

“The Xuzhou foundry will enable Bradken to produce an additional 20,000 tonnes of cast products per year,” Bradken managing director Brian Hodges said.

“We are pleased with the high level of automation and our capabilities to produce these technically demanding products.”

Hodges said the Chinese authorities had been extremely responsive and supportive of Bradken’s operations in their country and it had enabled the project to be completed in a very compressed timeframe.

The large foundry is the size of eight football fields and was designed with input from Bradken staff all over the world.

The staff at the foundry were also mentored by global specialists within the company.

“Explaining and demonstrating the company’s values to new staff is very important,” Hodges said.

“The foundry now employs almost 200 personnel and is operated by a local management team.

“It is Bradken’s philosophy to employ local management in our facilities, so we are proud to be generating jobs for people in Xuzhou who provide the expertise and local knowledge crucial to our success.”

The development of the foundry is being executed in stages, with stage 1 being completed for $87 million and expected to generate revenue of between $90 million and $120 million.

Stage 2, while not yet approved, already has infrastructure in place and will only require an estimated spend of $45 million on a plant and equipment.

It is expected to generate a similar revenue to stage 1.

After the opening of the facility a presentation was given outlining Bradken’s outlook.

The company said global coal markets had affected its business and it remained “highly defensible” by reducing working capital, expanding into lower cost offshore manufacturing and adjusting output and resources appropriately.

Bradken chairman Nick Greiner is also at the centre of a lawsuit that last month ruled the businessman had organised a "back door" purchase of mining services firm Norcast Wear Solutions by engaging a New York private equity firm to place a lower bid, for a $US22.4 million fee.

Bradken yesterday released a statement confirming that Greiner would appeal the decision.