AIMEX's Asia focus particularly timely

THE future of Australia’s coal industry lies in the source of its boom – the Asia Pacific – and it is this which new Reed Mining Events boss Robert Clark hopes the industry can capitalise on at this year’s AIMEX conference.
AIMEX's Asia focus particularly timely AIMEX's Asia focus particularly timely AIMEX's Asia focus particularly timely AIMEX's Asia focus particularly timely AIMEX's Asia focus particularly timely

Visitors leave AIMEX 2013

Anthony Barich

Published in the June 2015 edition of International Coal News

While Asia Pacific’s Inter­national Mining Exhibition (AIMEX) covers the full gambit of the mining industry, it’s fair to say the exhibitors toiling away in the coal space will be observed with particular interest.

“Coal is a huge focus, especially given the importance of that particular section of the industry,” Clark told International Coal News.

The conference comes at a critical time. Despite the slowdown, Australia’s mining industry is still expected to deliver $233.7 billion in revenue, which translates to a profit of $90.7 billion, generated by 5826 enterprises.

The fact that AIMEX had been tracking well in drawing just under 400 exhibitors with four months to go before the curtain is unveiled on the conference in September also shows that the industry is keen to go on the front foot to promote its wares and share knowledge about how to get through the tough times.

AIMEX will see some new participants this year, having secured Northparkes Mines chief executive officer Stefanie Loader, along with David Moult of Centennial Coal, as keynote speakers at the dinner.

There will also be dedicated international supplier pavilions from the United States, Canada, China, France and Germany, providing access to alternative global supplier options. Global suppliers including Cavotec, Cummins, Davey Bickford, Flexco, Hexagon (Devex Mining, Leica Geosystems Mining, MineSight and SAFEmine), Hitachi, Kal Tire, SEW-EURODRIVE and TOMORA Sorting Solutions will all be there to consult industry.

While the focus at AIMEX has, and always will be, about putting the industry together, Clark said the fact that Australia’s mining industry is transitioning from an investment and construction phase into an operational phase means the focus will be on driving innovation and efficiencies.

“It is an international meeting for the mining industry, and as such the focus for us is to ensure we not only have an exhibition but education forums that are relevant for the current climate and networking opportunities,” Clark said.

Just three weeks into the job when talking to International Coal News in May, Clark has come into an industry facing some challenging times, but it’s nothing he hasn’t seen before having spent 18 years at ETF, primarily working on the natural gas industry congresses – an industry which has been hit over the past year by oil prices halving since June 2014.

“The coal industry has had some very challenging times, but there have been some very encouraging articles about the growth forecast in the Southeast Asia area,” he said. “We may be in a bit of a lull, but there seems to be some light on the horizon.”

“Coal has had a head start on LNG, but when the LNG [mega-projects in Queensland, Darwin and Western Australia] comes online it will be interesting times for Australia.”

Above all, he said, AIMEX was about “the meeting of minds”.

“The conference must reflect what the current issues are, so there is a real focus on innovation, technology, services, what we can do to provide better operational efficiencies and production,” he said.

“That’s the phase the mining industry seems to be in, and any mining event worth its salt will reflect that.

“It’s gone out of that construction phase into operational phase, so cost efficiencies and automation will be a big focus.

“For industries that are under pressure, shows like AIMEX are even more important, so that industry can get together and talk about what the conditions are and how to tackle them.”

One example of the innovation on show at AIMEX 2013 was Halbach & Braun, whose company attended the conference for the first time in 15 years and launched its new longwall chain conveyor and was happy with the reception it received.

Last time AIMEX was held in 2013 it had nearly 13,000 trade visitors, and the breakdown of this year’s attendees will be particularly interesting, because about 25% of attendees last time comprised senior management.

Some 98% of delegates said they were “completely satisfied” to “somewhat satisfied” with AIMEX 2013, with 46% of visitors stating that they held “direct authority of influence” for purchasing the types of goods and services seen at the conference.

This indicated the type of visitors who wandered through the conference last time. A much higher 69% of visitors at AIMEX 2013 who said they had direct authority or influence for purchasing actually saw something at the conference that they were likely to buy after the exhibition.

So it has tangible benefits for industry, as the conference drew 178 international exhibitors from 19 countries.

“This year, will it be more engineering focused? They’re the things that change as an industry changes, and we reflect the shape of the industry,” Clark said.

“It’s a bit of a health check for industry, in that way. The changes in the seminar program will reflect the industry trends – so it will be about innovation, how to improve operational efficiency and productivity, reducing downtime, increasing cost savings and overall performance. That will be the focus of the event.”

Last time, 29.4% of participants were involved in mining, 16.2% in engineering, 5.2% in construction and 5% in maintenance.

Historic drive

AIMEX is also making history this year as organisers embark on a roadshow heading out to mines, chatting to the people on the ground to get a sense and feel for how the industry is going from the inside out.

This will also shape part of the conference’s social media and marketing campaign, and ultimately its seminar program. It kicked off in May at a mine at Lithgow, doing interviews with a film crew. Two weeks after that the roadshow headed out to a power station at Port Macquarie.

While Clark could not honestly take credit for the initiative – the team thought it up before he arrived – he embraced it with both arms and ran with it.

Paul Baker, who was director at Reed until Clark took over and has now shifted into Reed’s consumer division, said: “The beauty of AIMEX lies in the symbiotic relationship between exhibiting suppliers and attending mining professionals, who have the rare opportunity of conducting face-to-face business.

“This will enable mining companies striving for better efficiency and cost-effectiveness across their operations to achieve better overall performance. As the pinnacle of mining trade events in 2015, AIMEX will deliver mining professionals with the innovations that generate greater productivity and boost bottom-lines.”

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