Drilling into Africa

To grow its business, Beowolf Mining, a leading supplier of drilling consumables to the quarrying and mining sectors, has set its sights on expanding its footprint in Africa. Director of sales Riaan Theron unpacks the African expansion strategy and some of the key trends in the drilling market. By Munesu Shoko.
Beowolf Mining offers a full range of down-the-hole drill bits to mines and quarries.

Having traditionally served the South African mining market, Beowolf Mining has adopted an expansion strategy to grow its business in Africa. While the South African mining sector is grappling with its own challenges, Theron believes that the local market will remain an important mining destination for years to come.

However, says Theron, issues such as legislative uncertainty, the lack of exploration investment as well as energy constraints, are impacting new investment in mining. In the wake of these documented challenges, Beowolf Mining has taken a strategic decision to expand its geographical footprint and diversify its business into new commodity areas.

“Our African expansion drive started some five years ago, with initial focus on West Africa, particularly Burkina Faso and Guinea, where we have already secured business from two big mining houses. We have identified a big gap in terms of both quality product and good service in these markets,” says Theron. “The expansion into West Africa complements our existing cross border business in key markets such as Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia.”

Despite the focus on Africa, Theron is still positive about prospects of growth in South Africa. “In spite of the existing challenges, I believe economic sense will prevail at some point when it comes to legislative certainty. I am of the view that the government will at some point prioritise a conducive environment for more mining investment,” he says.

A range of drifter rods available from Beowolf Mining.

New suppliers and availability

Commenting on some new trends in the drilling consumables market, Theron has observed an influx of new suppliers in the market, but many of them do not last long. The reason for their early demise is that many of the new suppliers are importing their drilling consumables from overseas traders and not necessarily from manufacturers, which makes it difficult for them to provide the necessary aftermarket support for their products. To run a sustainable drilling consumables business, he stresses, there is need for consistent quality and ‘value for money’ for the client.

One of the biggest emerging trends, notes Theron, is the need for stock availability, not only in the drilling consumables market, but across the mining supply chain. Maintaining adequate inventory has become critical for the product-intensive mining industry. “In mining, time is money, and therefore clients expect their suppliers to carry enough stock to meet their operational needs. This is despite the current challenges with our South African ports and the general catastrophe within the global supply chain,” he says.

As part of its new business strategy, Beowolf Mining has in the past few years increased its monthly shipments from its overseas suppliers to build up adequate stock levels and ensure availability locally. Keeping enough stock, says Theron, increases chances of getting new business as customers look for suppliers with inventory.

Maintaining adequate inventory of drilling consumables has become critical for the product-intensive mining industry.


In a world where a one-size-fits-all approach has lost relevance, Theron says mines and quarries now place value on custom-made solutions that address their specific needs on site. In response to that trend, Beowolf Mining invests heavily in research and development (R&D) to ensure provision of custom-made solutions to its customers.

“We believe in providing tailor-made products for different types of applications and ore bodies,” says Theron. “At one of the large open pit mines in South Africa, we spent about R2-million on R&D to ensure that the type of carbide and the design of the drill bits were 100% suited to the application. As a result, the client is getting maximum life out of their drill bits.”

In recent years, adds Theron, the drilling equipment market has not only seen a hastening trend towards consolidation within the supplier community, but also an expansion of the range of products and services offered under one roof. This has created true ‘one-stop shops’ that are able to service a wide range of customers’ needs from one stable.

Convenience, says Theron, is one of the many reasons why customers prefer to deal with a one-stop- drilling solutions provider such as Beowolf Mining. Instead of having to go to multiple suppliers, buyers for mines and quarries can simply go to one location for all their requirements. Apart from convenience, dealing with a single supplier for a whole range of drilling needs means faster turnaround times for increased uptime.

Over the years, Beowolf Mining has bolstered its product offering with a complete range of rock-drilling tools and drill rigs to meet its customers’ requirements. The extensive range includes down the hole (DTH) drilling equipment, hydraulic open pit drill rigs, DTH drill rigs, drill rig lubricants, top hammer drilling equipment, drifters and drifter spares. Additionally, they offer refurbishment of hydraulic drifters. In recent times, self-drilling anchors have become a big part of the company’s business.

In addition, Beowolf Mining has developed an app designed to monitor drilling consumables. Traditionally, available apps are original equipment manufacturer (OEM) solutions dedicated to monitoring parameters such as engine hours and fuel consumption. Beowolf Mining’s app, says Theron, is the first of its kind that is dedicated to consumables. The solution will be showcased for the first time at this year’s Electra Mining Africa in September.

Apart from drilling consumables, Beowolf Mining is in a joint venture with its sister company, JMH Equipment, for the sales of Soosan crawler drills, previously known as Junjin, from South Korea. The company has been marketing this range of crawler drills for the past 10 years, with some 55 units already operating in the South African mining industry alone. Several units have also been exported to Botswana, Angola and Namibia.

“The range will soon be expanded with larger rotary and DTH drills following JMH Equipment’s recent appointment as the exclusive distributor of Revathi Equipment Limited’s range in Africa. This will allow us to offer a complete range of drill rigs for all open pit applications from aggregates operations to large opencast mines. After 24 years in the game, now we can confidently say we offer a full drilling package,” concludes Theron.

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