Mining equipment manufacturers are making improvements to machinery that they hope will deliver productivity gains for customers and counter falling orders.

Under pressure from investors for higher returns, miners want to get the most out of every shovel, grinder and truck to help maintain margins which are being squeezed by high labour and energy costs and cooling commodity prices.

At an industry dinner this month, the new boss of the world’s largest miner, BHP Billiton, compared the sector’s search for efficiency to that of motor racing teams.

Thanks to tiny changes, he said, the Formula One pitstop – the time when cars are stationary for tyres to be changed – has gone from just under 4 seconds in 2010 to just over 2 seconds this year.

“If we look at our industry, the prize is significant,” BHP Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie told his audience.

Source: Reuters - See full article