JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Global drilling services provider Master Drilling was planning to expand into the vertical shaft boring business, MD Danie Pretorius
He told Mining Weekly Online that the company was considering expanding its business to include vertical shaft boring over the long term, “We will look into blind shaft drilling or mechanising over the next couple of years.”
Pretorius said this, along with a system to undertake horizontal drilling of underground incline raises, which the company has been developing over the past two years and is in the process of commissioning, formed part of its mechanisation drive.
“We like to think, on the back of all the labour issues in South Africa, that the horizontal mechanisation of mine development is going to be something we should look at to meet the needs of the mines,” Pretorius, who is also the company’s founder, stated.
In December, the company listed its ordinary shares in the Industrial Machinery sector of the JSE main board.
This followed a successful private placement of 44.9-million new ordinary primary shares, 5.6-million secondary shares and 5.5-million over-allotment shares at R7.85 a share, which has raised R439.6-million before expenses.
Pretorius said the company intended to use the proceeds primarily to fund its global growth strategy, which included acquisitions and organic growth. He pointed out that about half would be used to purchase six new raisebore machines and associated equipment in 2013 to expand into new geographical markets, such as Mexico, Peru, Mongolia, Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
He said the company was also recently awarded a long-term contract in Mali for a gold project.
He further indicated that the company was currently considering three acquisitions, one of which was likely to materialise over the next three months.
Pretorius reiterated that the short-term outlook for South Africa’s platinum market still looked bleak.
However, he pointed out that the country’s platinum sector would show significant recovery over the next two to three years.
He added that he did not foresee the company expanding its South African drilling fleet unless a new contract with iron-ore miner Kumba was secured.
Elsewhere in Africa, the DRC held notable potential with its extensive copper deposits, good prices over the last couple of years and a shortfall of global stock.
Further, with Latin America generating more than 50% of Master Drilling’s income, the company was preparing to send a drill rig to Columbia where the first contract would start in June.
Pretorius stated that this, along with new contracts in Mexico and Peru would assist with achieving organic growth in the region during 2013.