British Steel lands new shaft deal with African mining firm

Manufacturer British Steel has announced a new contract to help service the African mining industry.

British Steel plant in Scunthorpe

The firm, with bases in North Yorkshire and Scunthorpe, will supply South African steel manufacturer Robor with its tophat shaft guides – hoisting systems used in underground mining operations to guide cages and skips in vertical mine shafts.

The guides are exclusively made by British Steel and are finding favour in a market which favours revamping existing mines, rather than creating new ones.

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British Steel’s tophat shaft guides are easier to install and require reduced maintenance. Tophat sections generally last for the life of the mine.

The firm posted profits of more than £21m over the summer and has forged a number of international deals including in China.

Colin Mawdsley, British Steel’s technical sales manager special profiles , said: “This is excellent news and we’re delighted to be strengthening our partnership with Robor.

“We’ve been working with the manufacturers of mining equipment for many years and know that equipment must be carefully designed and built to meet exacting demands. Customers rely on our steel to deliver the performance they need, and this is precisely what our tophat shaft guides do.

“We’ve worked alongside Robor for over 36 years, supplying large quantity orders for mining projects across the world, the majority being in Southern Africa.

“This agreement will enable us to provide more mining companies with one of our premium products.”

The British Steel brand returned to the UK’s business world two years ago when investment firm Greybull Capital took it over from Tata Steel.

Mr Mawdsley said: “Current market conditions mean there are fewer new mines being developed, and as a result, the focus is shifting towards prolonging and maintaining the life of older, existing mine shafts.

“This means mining companies are seeking smaller quantity orders of tophats, which aren’t cost effective for us to produce.

“In order to meet market demands, we’ll supply Robor with bulk quantities of shaft guides that will be held as retail stock. Having readily available stock offers customers the opportunity to buy reduced quantities on a short lead-time which is a huge advantage for smaller projects.”

Gordon Gilmer, chief executive at Robor, said; “We’re delighted to reach this agreement with British Steel after many years working together.

“We look forward to using our African market knowledge and logistics expertise to maximise tophat sales to the African mining industry.”

British Steel’s special profiles are used in underground and surface mining operations, with its profiles being used in mine infrastructure and a vast array of mining machinery and vehicles.

The steel for the profiles is made at the company’s headquarters in Scunthorpe before being rolled at its Special Profiles Mill at Skinningrove, Teesside.

Earlier this year British Steel revealed that £50m will be invested at its Scunthorpe rod mill. The company also confirmed that £40m has been committed to other capital expenditure in 2019 to maintain and improve its asset base.

The company employs around 4,000 people at its operations in Scunthorpe, Teesside and Skinningrove.