Joy Global – Expanding its presence in underground hard rock mining

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It has been almost 18 months since Joy Global Inc announced the acquisition of Canadian-based Mining Technologies International Inc (MTI). Since then the worldwide leader in high-productivity mining solutions has seen its newest division go from strength to strength, building on the platform of organic growth in underground hard rock mining it started some seven or eight years earlier, and cementing its position as a serious contender within this section of the market.

Josh Wagner, general manager of hard rock, says the acquisition was successful in enabling Joy Global to push ahead with its strategy of expansion into the nickel, palladium, platinum, gold, and copper markets, among others, and in bringing some of the corporation’s own cutting-edge technology to the world of hard rock mining.

“We saw this as a huge opportunity for us to increase our presence around the world and grow our business,” he admits. “If you look at hard rock mining, there are huge mines in Latin America, South America, central and southern Africa, as well as Eurasia and central Asia – and in all these places there are great opportunities, which remain untapped. We saw the acquisition of MTI, with its products as giving us the potential to move into those areas.”

Joy Global has a long history in mining innovation and pioneering production, reaching back to 1884, when Alonzo Pawling and Henry Harnischfeger launched their partnership to found the P&H product line, and the early 1900s, when inventor Joseph Francis Joy became known for his underground Joy mining equipment. In blending the Joy and P&H lines, along with others acquired along the way, Joy Global has developed to become a market leader, focusing on the manufacture and sale of equipment and direct services for the mining industry.

The company’s products and related services are used extensively for the mining of energy, industrial and hard rock minerals, and it prides itself on providing a full range of value-added, post-sale services and a commitment to helping its customers mine ores and minerals at the lowest cost per ton.

“We now have over 150 facilities in 20 countries and employ approximately 15,000 people,” Mr Wagner points out. “We are set up to provide direct service, as our sales and service teams have a presence and are ready to respond in the countries and regions where our customers are based.”

The corporation is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with manufacturing, service and sales locations all over the globe. It continues to grow its global direct service footprint, recently opening new state-of-the-art service facilities in La Joya, Peru, and Kemerovo, Russia.

“This move into hard rock is really our newest voyage, which began with some organic growth, with the development of dynamic cutting systems for hard rock applications,” he says. “Subsequently we have gone down the road of acquisition, starting with MTI in 2014 and much more recently with Montabert , in Lyon, France.”

Montabert specialises in the design, production and distribution of hydraulic demolition and drilling equipment for use in mining, construction and more. Adding Montabert’s products to Joy Global’s world-class offerings bringsadvantages for both companies: Montabert will continue to develop industry-leading technology and products, and by adding drilling products to its offerings, Joy Global strengthened its hard rock business even further.

The acquisition of MTI was the first step towards bringing Joy Global a broad-based hard rock mining product portfolio. It was family-run business, which had been in operation for several generations and had more than 230 employees. Based in Sudbury, Ontario, known globally as the capital of underground hard rock mining, it was well known in the industry for its rugged and reliable equipment, including jumbo drills, load haul dump (LHD) trucks, shaft drilling equipment, long-hole jumbos, in-the-hole (ITH) drills, rotary blasthole drills, buckets and bucket wear parts, as well as custom-designed equipment for specific underground requirements.

The equipment is ideal for nickel, potash, palladium, platinum, gold, and copper mining and is marketed today under the Joy brand.

“The integration of MTI has gone very smoothly. Not only has it brought us this portfolio of high performance products but in order to move into a highly specialised area, such as hard rock, you have to have people with experience,” says Mr Wagner. “The acquisition has given us those people and now in line with our strategy we are now focusing on them, as well as on investment in the facilities. And, as we continue to move forward, we are starting to concentrate on lean philosophies and on the implementation of our operational excellence programme.”

As difficult global economic and market conditions have continued, Joy Global’s JBS Operational Excellence initiatives remain in place across all divisions, departments and company functions. Focusing on eliminating waste, simplifying processes, automating where possible and ensuring the safety of all employees, JBS supports the corporation’s drive for competitive advantage and, indeed, in 2014 enabled it to exceed its cost savings targets.

Over the course of the next five years, Mr Wagner stresses, the aim is to more than double the size of the hard rock business, through further operational efficiencies, greater global reach, more investment in research and development, and the ongoing launch of new products. Joy Global’s vision is to remain a world-class service company, delivering the most reliable and productive products, systems and solutions that solve mining’s toughest challenges.

“The mining market is very soft at the moment and this latest focus on underground hard rock mining is one of our major strategic growth initiatives. Joy Global will come through this downturn by taking the opportunities that are there and making the most of them.

“The aim now is to continue to leverage the technology knowhow that we already have right across the corporation and use it to accelerate the development of more new products and systems,” he insists.

“The mining market is cyclical: I am in no doubt that it will come back before too long as minerals will continue to be required on a day-to-day basis.”

And, he adds: “Through our unique solutions, ongoing development of new technologies and focus on the sales and service side of our business – particularly our direct service and our ability to communicate directly with our customers – I know we will be in a very strong position to continue to grow. We are very optimistic about the future of Joy Global.”