By Cecilia Jamasmie
November 1, 2017 - It’s been a good year for Switzerland-based heavy equipment maker Liebherr, with orders picking up more than 21% in the first six months of the year, driven mostly by its mining and earthmoving divisions.
While sales in past years hovered around €4.3 to €4.4 billion ($5 to $5.1bn), from January to June this year the company has received more than €5.2bn ($6bn) in orders.
And the family-run company expects much more before year-end. According to Stefan Heissler, member of the board of directors of Liebherr-International, the group anticipates 2017 to be a record year in terms of both growth and sales.
Speaking to a group of media members at the end of October in Austria, Heissler said the company’s medium-term goal is becoming a preferred partner in the global mining industry. Key to achieve that objective, he noted, are the group’s start-up units — groups of dedicated experts who operate like an independent company to develop innovations.
One of those inventions is the T 236 mining truck, the company’s first 100 tonne class vehicle, which is currently being tested at Erzberg iron ore mine, in Austria.
While originally focused on the coal sector, the machinery maker has been diversifying into other sectors such as iron ore, copper, gold and Canada’s oil sands.
Jörg Lukowski, vice-president of sales and marketing, told MINING.com that in terms of geographic markets, Liebherr has a very strong presence in Europe, Australia and Africa, where the earth moving division has paved the way for the firm’s mining offer.
The heavy equipment supplier has also been successful in Russia and in some countries in Asia (such as Mongolia) and South America. In those markets, however, Lukowski acknowledges there is quite a bit of room for improvement in terms of increasing the brand’s footprint in the mining sector.
Liebherr has vowed to continue to invest in its workforce, adding about 2,240 workers by the end of 2017, for a total of more than 44,550 employees worldwide.
The company said it would also carry on with investing in its international production facilities, and distribution and service network. By the end of 2017, it expects to have invested €733 million ($850m) this year.
In the past five years, the equipment maker has invested more than €4 billion ($4.7 billion) in the expansion of the group and while it did not provide figures, it did say the group now plans to focus its efforts and investment in conquering the North and South American mining markets.