FY16 – What does the year ahead hold for the METS sector?
With the end of the financial year upon us, Christine Gibbs Stewart, CEO of Austmine, shared her thoughts into where the opportunities will lie in the year ahead for Australian Mining Equipment, Technology and Services companies (METS) and what Austmine is doing to help support its members in the coming year.
Where should Australian METS be focusing their efforts in the year to come?
In terms of resources, iron ore and coal prices are forecast by the sector to remain either low or turbulent. The minerals of choice for the year ahead are nickel, zinc and platinum (according to PwC’s recent Mine 2015: The Gloves are Off report, these were the only three commodities this past year to demonstrate small price increases), but some are also tipping gold and copper to provide decent opportunities.
Our recent industry survey (results to be released soon) showed a significant upswing in export activity for Australian METS, with more and more companies expanding into offshore markets to bolster revenue numbers. With almost 66% of the sector exporting, those without a current export strategy are missing a significant opportunity. One region of particular interest continues to be South East Asia with 49% of companies exporting to Indonesia and countries closer to Australia including New Zealand and PNG. South and North America are markets of growing activity, and with the announcement in May 2015 of the approval of Oyu Tolgoi’s underground expansion, Mongolia is back on the map.
Diversification into other industries, notably oil and gas, is a strong business strategy for many, as we’ve seen from our survey. It is a logical step forward for those companies who have exclusively catered to mining in the past, with many skills and technologies being transferable over to that sector, although other industries being considered are infrastructure, renewable energy, construction and defence.
Lastly, a strong focus on collaboration should be on the priority list for all in FY16. Collaboration can, and should, apply to working relationships with miners, other METS, research and development organisations and government. Closer collaboration across the industry can lead to a stronger and more accelerated commercialisation of new, innovative and game-changing technologies that can significantly impact on the industry’s productivity and efficiency levels.
What is Austmine doing to support its members in accessing these opportunities?
As always, we are working to identify the best overseas projects, countries and global miners for our members to interface with. In the coming financial year, we will take overseas missions to Brazil, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, New Caledonia, Mongolia and Mozambique – to name a few. We have placed a greater emphasis in our missions on site visits and face to face meetings with senior executives from the local mining companies, understanding that this advanced networking is where many of the deals are done and relationships brokered.
On a domestic front, we continue to secure the most exciting miners and their projects to speak at our networking events across Australia. In the next two months we have senior level representatives from Centennial Coal, Northparkes and Carbine Resources all giving presentations. We also continue to be a foundation partner of the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in Melbourne on 9 – 12 November 2015, which will provide our members with more networking and branding opportunities through our speed networking Meet the Miners session and access to our senior speakers from Rio Tinto, Gold Fields, Glencore, Newcrest Mining, AngloGold Ashanti, PanAust, St Barbara and Mandalay Resources.
As has been widely acknowledged, our Chair, Elizabeth Lewis-Gray, is also the Chair of the Federal Government’s METS Industry Growth Centre. Whilst the details of the Centre’s activities are still being shaped, Austmine will be working in close collaboration with the Centre to drive the best outcomes for Australian METS. We are also working more closely with our university members and research and development partners to provide access to the latest innovations that could potentially provide new commercial opportunities.
We are also very excited to announce that as of 1st July 2015, Austmine will have seven new business advisors joining our team across the country. These advisors will deliver the Federal Government Entrepreneurs’’ Program and specialise in operational improvement, business growth and supply chain services. More to come on this over the next few weeks, so keep an eye on our website!