Mining Industry on an Upswing – More Than Project Logistics Needed to Make a Difference

Jeroen de Ryck
Jeroen de Ryck

The mining industry is booming, especially in the Russia and CIS regions. Russia and the CIS countries are very rich in minerals and other resources. The focus on carbon footprints has had a positive effect on the mining industry in these regions. For example, the increased interest in electric vehicles and other electrically powered machines vs fuel-powered machines has increased the demand for batteries results in an increasing demand for resources available in these regions. The increased mining activity means increased flows of machinery, spare parts and supplies to these mining operations.

More Than Project Logistics

Mining requires large and heavy machinery. Huge trucks, excavators, and bulldozers need to be transported to the mines. Because of their size, they often don’t fit in standard containers or on standard flatbed trucks. Special machinery often requires special equipment to transport. Partly disassembling equipment and making sure as much as possible can be transported with standard equipment can often save a lot of costs. 

Outsized and special cargo can be transported via road, rail, barge or seaborn vessels. Each mode has its advantages and its challenges.

Rail freight is relatively cheap, especially across long distances. The carbon footprint of rail freight is also lower than road or sea freight. There are also challenges. Different countries can have different gauges, which means reloading of railway platforms at the border. There are also limits when it comes to the infrastructure. Trains go across bridges and through tunnels. These limit the cargo size that can be transported, but there are ways to overcome these challenges. For several customers, Ahlers partly disassembles and reassembles equipment to make sure it fits within the feasible dimensions to transport by rail.

Road freight is more expensive but also more flexible than rail when it comes to the limits of what can be transported. Still, fitting equipment on trailers may also require (partial) disassembly. This can be to pass obstacles en route, but sometimes machinery is partly disassembled to minimise the risk of damage during transport. There is no issue with gauges, but different countries have different rules and regulations regarding road transportation. For example, trucks with mining equipment stop at the border between China and Russia/Kazakhstan. The equipment is unloaded from Chinese trucks and then driven across the border and loaded on Russian/Kazakh trucks. Ahlers came up with an outside-the-box solution for moving vehicles with tracks across the borders for a large equipment manufacturer. Rubber/silicone covers are put around the tracks, so they don’t damage the road when driven off the Chinese truck, across the border, and onto the Russian/Kazakh truck.

Short sea/inland freight can be costly, inland transportation by barge less than by sea. While road freight is more flexible, transport by barge is reliable and has a lower carbon footprint. When moving freight from China to Russia, sea freight is not the first thing that comes to mind, but as mentioned earlier, sometimes outside the box solutions are called for. Recent problems and restrictions at the border between Russia, Kazakhstan and China were causing massive delays. Ahlers transportation specialists analysed the situation and came up with a new solution. For certain lots, mining equipment was loaded on boats and sent on a longer route to Vladivostok over water. As there were no issues at the Vladivostok port, the machinery was offloaded without delay and transported further to final destinations in Russia and Kazakhstan. 

Full Operational Supply Management

Mining operations are complex operations with large and outsized equipment that is often essential. Downtime must be minimal when machines need maintenance or break down. Having parts available in a nearby distribution centre minimises that downtime. Importing large quantities of spare parts means paying a lot of duties and VAT. This is why Ahlers has bonded warehouses. When you store imported goods in a bonded warehouse, you only have to pay duties and tax when you take a spare part out of the warehouse and bring it into free circulation.

Regular operational supplies, whether imported or procured locally, are just as essential. Whether it’s an excavator, conveyor belts, spare parts or toilet paper, Ahlers can manage your entire operational supply chain and ensure the right materials are at the right place at the right time. You place your PO, and Ahlers takes care of managing the rest of the process. Whether it is acting on your behalf as the importer of record, securely storing your products or providing value-added services like (re-)labelling or (re-)packaging, Ahlers efficiently manages your entire operational supply chain, so you can focus on what you do best. 

Supply Chain Visibility 

Visibility is essential for any modern supply chain operation. Whether it’s operational dashboards or KPI’s, you need a logistics partner that has the systems and abilities to manage your supply chain efficiently and that allows you to see the information you want to see and makes sure you receive the information you need to see when there is an issue. Information that enables you to make the right decisions at the right time.

Technologies like the Internet of Things will make supply chains even more transparent. Cargo can be tracked live with IoT sensors, increasing the visibility and the security of logistics operations.

The Benefits of Outsourcing Your Operational Supply Chain

If you let us focus on supply chain and logistics, you can focus your energy and resources on what you do best: Mining. Our specialists are highly trained and experienced, levering knowledge gained in different industries and challenging circumstances—innovative solutions for supply chain challenges in complex environments. We are your supply chain partner, working closely with your teams to ensure your operations run smoothly. Whether it is a critical spare part or coffee for the break room, we ensure you have what you need, when you need it, and where you need it.

Author Bio

Jeroen De Ryck profile

Jeroen de Ryck is Global Business Unit Manager Projects & Machinery at Ahlers. Ahlers provides state-of-the-art logistics support in sustainable supply chain management, warehousing, projects & machinery logistics, secured transport, trade logistics, after-sales services, and data analytics. Their extensive experience and knowledge of local markets make Ahlers your ideal partner for business in China, Russia or the CIS countries.

Header Image provided by Ahlers


This blogpost is sponsored by Ahlers

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