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Demand for raw materials spurs mining

At the end of last year, mining companies were still anticipating development to be cautious and slow. This assumption has proven to be only partially correct. Between January and September 2021, the number of contracts coming in increased by 75 % compared to the previous year. In contrast, turnover in German mining companies is lagging behind. In 2020, the industry achieved a total turnover of 3.38 bn €. Between January and September 2021, turnover was 18 % below the previous year’s values at 2.8 bn €. Between January and August 2021, exports were down by 10.4 % compared to the previous year at just under 960 M €. The industry expects turnover to recover a little by the end of 2021 and estimates a moderate decline of between 5 and 10 % overall. The number of employees is stable at 12,200.

Besides the EU-27 and Great Britain, some of the biggest export markets include the USA, China and Russia (Figure 1). The most frequently exported goods across all markets include, not always in the same order, crushing and grinding technology, deep drilling technology, extraction and tunnelling machines and tunnel boring machines.

Fig. 1. Main German export markets – share of total exports. Source: VDMA

Between January and August 2021, the export value of the USA, with 1,260 M € was almost twice as high as that of China at 660 M €. However, the US market does not represent an extraordinary challenge – unlike China. The Asian country exclusively imports technology which is not yet available of the required quality within China, therefore resulting in declining export numbers for mining companies with production sites based in Germany. Despite sanctions, business with Russia is profiting from many years of good relations with mining companies and their desire for high quality.

“Now and in the future, nothing will work in the industry without mining technology. If we want to maintain our current living standards, we need the relevant raw materials,” explains Michael Schulte Strathaus, Chairman of the Board of VDMA Mining, Frankfurt am Main/Germany, at the industry meeting press conference on 18th November 2021 at the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen. This meeting was all about how to reach the European climate targets. This will only be achieved with increasingly digitised products and work processes because mechanical development options are limited. “Only smart mining can lead to green mining,” emphasises Schulte Strathaus. “We see our chances in providing the best technology in the world, which will contribute to the resource-saving, efficient, “green” extraction and processing of raw materials.” (VDMA/Si.)