By John Miller, editor, The ASIA Miner

While lower exhibitor numbers and falling attendance at the Asia-Pacific region’s largest mining event, AIMEX 2015 in Sydney from September 1-4, are indicative of difficult times for the mining industry, it was very evident from exhibitors and attendees that more efficient production is the key to maintaining and developing business.

The good interest shown in the range of technology on show aimed at optimizing and enhancing productivity was evidence that the innovations provided by mining equipment, technology and services (METS) companies have a crucial role to play in helping the mining industry overcome the current difficulties.

Many mines and METS companies are tapping into the industry’s tighter budget mindset by seeking productivity improvements and getting more from existing equipment.

Dingo Mining CEO Paul Higgins said, “The mining companies have had a really strong retraction in what they’re willing to spend. Now they’re more interested in innovation.”

It was the first time Dingo, which advises mining companies how to get the most out of their existing machinery, has exhibited at AIMEX. “I think the sector became a little bit complacent over the very profitable 10 years the industry has had. Changing slowly was okay during the boom but those days are gone and the industry has to change fast now to survive, which means its players have to be willing to try new ways of doing things.”

AT Hydraulics’ manager Andrew Grant, said many mining companies could not afford new machinery. “We have quite a healthy repair business because people will repair instead of buying new, but new sales, where a fair bit of our profit is generated, are slowing down.” AT supplies hydraulics to equipment manufacturers.

There were 480 exhibitors mostly located in the main dome and linked central hall with several outside. This compared to about 650 exhibitors in 2013 in several halls and many more in five halls in 2011. AIMEX organisers have not confirmed visitor numbers but some exhibitors estimate they were down by about 30%. The first and last days were relatively quiet while the second and third days attracted good crowds.

Larger exhibits were staged by Hitachi Construction Machinery, Cummins, Hexagon Mining, Kaltire, Boss, SEW Eurodrive, Caltex, Hella, Ryco, Ontrak Engineering and MTG/2MT. Apart from Hitachi, the major OEMs were conspicuous by their absence.

There were 480 exhibitors at AIMEX 2015 in Sydney, Australia, from September 1-4.

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