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Schramm president sees 'light at the end of the tunnel'

PDAC regular Schramm, the century-old Pennsylvania-based drill rig manufacturer, is seeing some “light at the end of the tunnel” after a protracted downturn in demand for new equipment. President Craig Mayman told Mining Journal the company was optimistic a growing need to renew copper, gold and other mineral reserves would at some stage be a catalyst for a rebound in rig production.
Schramm president sees 'light at the end of the tunnel' Schramm president sees 'light at the end of the tunnel' Schramm president sees 'light at the end of the tunnel' Schramm president sees 'light at the end of the tunnel' Schramm president sees 'light at the end of the tunnel'

Schramm has focused on building aftermarket business

Staff reporter

While drilling contractors around the world have got busier in the past year or so, and fleet utilisation levels have edged higher, new machine orders have generally remained sluggish.

"The biggest challenge is that credit is still tight and people's capital expenditures are still small, and the mining juniors are struggling to raise funds to do drilling programs," said Mayman, who replaced Jim Dolan as Schramm president late last year.

"People are saying that it will be the same or better for the next year. It seems to be a slow start, though, for 2019.

"The last 2-3 years have been tough ones for us, just like I am sure it was for any of our competitors and customers in this industry. It was a long downturn and it was not just in mining.

"The light at the end of the tunnel is that people's rigs are definitely aging, and both copper and gold reserves are shrinking, so people have to do more drilling soon."

Schramm has been a long-term fixture at the major Toronto conference and exhibition.

Mayman said he and the management team at privately-owned Schramm had been focused on "right-sizing the business for profitability in the current environment".

"It's also been a good opportunity for us to improve in our aftermarket business for both spares and service, and also our RC hammers and bit business; working with our global partners and dealers to see how we can better support our existing customers around the world."

 raig ayman he light at the end of the tunnel is that peoples rigs are definitely aging Craig Mayman: "The light at the end of the tunnel is that people's rigs are definitely aging"

Schramm is said to have more than 2,000 drill rigs in service around the world. Mayman said the mining sector remained the company's main market from a revenue standpoint. Oil and gas sector sales were being "heavily driven" by service and spares, not new rigs, while mainly mine-site related water-well drilling was ticking along. Geothermal continued to be a small part of the business.

"Mine-site water work is certainly increasing - either dewatering as the mines get deeper or water-well for drilling and mining activities," Mayman said.

"The Australian market is very strong; Africa and Russia are both doing okay, too. New rig sales are pretty limited throughout the Americas.

"We have our first Fury 130 rig getting wrapped up down in Australia. This rig is going into mine dewatering applications and is an exciting opportunity to prove its capabilities.

"On the new products front we've been working through the challenges of tier 4 engines for North America, new hydraulic systems, and updating our 450 series of drill rig. Our team in Australia have been doing very well with their configuration of the T450 drill rig mounted on a six-by-six for that market."