Global Underground Mining Market: Key Highlights
- The global underground mining market was valued at ~US$ 21.5 Bn in 2018, and is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of ~2% during the forecast period.
- Based on equipment, the drilling equipment segment accounted for a major share of the global underground mining market in 2018.
- In terms of method, the unsupported segment held a significant share of the global underground mining market in 2018. Room-and-pillar mining is an old method applied to horizontal or nearly horizontal deposits. This method has been refined over the years, and is used in coal and non-coal mining.
- In terms of operator, the contract mining segment constituted a key share of the global underground mining market in 2018. Several contractual agreements are used in contract mining. These can be broadly classified into traditional contracts, risk sharing contracts, and strategic alliance contracts, depending upon the mine life or duration of the contract.
- Latin America is estimated to offer high growth potential to the underground mining market in the next few years. Abundance of mineral resources and significant investments from mining companies are driving the underground mining market in the region.
Key Drivers and Restraints of Global Underground Mining Market
- The renewable energy sector is expanding at a significant pace across the globe. However, it is unable to meet the rising demand for power. This has resulted in a chasm between the demand for power and its generation, which developing countries such as China, India, and Indonesia are striving to meet through coal-based generation. This is driving the use of coal in power generation applications. According to the World Coal Association, coal accounted for approximately 38% share of the total electricity generated in 2018. This percentage has remained almost unchanged in the last 20 years. Thus, rise in the demand for power is expected to boost the demand for coal in the power industry. This is likely to drive the underground mining market. Coal production in the U.S. increased to 273 million short tons through underground mines in 2017, up from 252 million short tons in 2016.
- Implementation of IoT in underground mining provides several opportunities to companies to increase their productivity. IoT enables data integration from an increasing number of sources. This enables mining companies to plan their mining operations with accuracy.
- Companies require skilled professionals with technical skills, high degree of problem-solving, and considerable understanding of such tools and machines to work with technologically-advanced tools and machines. According to a survey by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America, Inc., in January 2017, 73% of businesses faced difficulty in finding skilled workers, and 55% businesses identified worker shortage. Thus, dearth of skilled labor is hampering the implementation of smart mining methods. This is adversely affecting the underground mining market.
Latin America Offers Lucrative Opportunities to Global Underground Mining Market
- Latin America dominates the global underground mining market. The mining industry in the region has been thriving since the last few years. In 2017, 305 companies invested US$ 2.38 Bn for exploration in the region. Chile, Peru, and Mexico received 25%, 22%, and 21% of these investments, respectively, in the year. Favorable government policies and automation of processes in excavation operations are anticipated to drive the underground mining market in Latin America during the forecast period.
- Currently, Brazil has more than 180 active mines. The most productive underground mines in the country extract up to 1,000,000 tons of minerals every year. Currently, Brazil has two major underground mines: Morro Velho and Serra Grande Gold Mine.
- Chile is a prominent producer of copper in Latin America. It produces 32% of copper in the world. According to Cochilco, Chile’s state copper agency, the country produced its largest volume of copper ever (i.e. 5.83 million tons) in 2018, up by more than 6% of that produced in 2017.
Global Underground Mining Market: Key Developments
- In April 2019, Epiroc Australia and Mobilaris announced that it had been contracted by OZ Minerals to deploy the Mobilaris Mining Intelligence information management system for digitization of one of its underground operations. This digitalization aims to increase production, efficiency, and safety in OZ Mineral’s new Carrapateena underground mine in South Australia.
- In September 2019, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology launched the new Sandvik RDX5 rock drill to complement its rock drill offering for underground drill rigs. The new RDX5 rock drill is a strong replacement for the established HLX5 rock drill model in Sandvik’s drilling equipment, which has a heritage and longstanding reputation of being the most reliable rock drill in the world.
- In November 2018, West African Resources awarded an underground mining contract for the M1 South deposit at the Sanbrado gold project in Burkina Faso to Byrnecut. The contract, worth US$ 110 Mn over five years, is Byrnecut’s second in the West African country.
Underground Mining Market: Competition Landscape
- The global underground mining market is highly fragmented, with the presence of a large number of players.
- High capital investments in facilities, equipment, technologies, and transport vehicles poses a high barrier to the entry for new players in the global underground mining market. Regulatory pathways for clearance and approval of underground mining are time-consuming and capital-intensive. This creates another barrier for the entry of new players into the market.
- Key players operating in the global underground mining market are BHP, Rio Tinto, Glencore, Vale S.A., Alcoa Corporation, Coal India Ltd, Anglo American Plc, Barminco, CIMIC Group Limited, OZ Minerals, The Redpath Group, Thyssen Mining, China Shenhua Energy Company Limited, Norilsk Nickel Group, Implats Platinum Limited, Amur Minerals Corporation, GBF Underground Mining Company, and Freeport-McMoRan.