With the acquisition of the British company Century Oils in 1991, FUCHS entered the business for mining lubricants. Today FUCHS is one of the market leaders expecting plenty of upward potential.
"There is hardly an industry as globally oriented as mining", states Alf Untersteller, responsible for the mining sector in the Group Management Committee of FUCHS. "Few multinational groups have cornered the market and the circle of managers operating worldwide is small." This situation offers opportunities but also bears risks. "Doing a good job spreads rapidly in the industry, but bad news disseminates just as quickly," as Mr. Untersteller puts it in a nutshell.
FUCHS is very well positioned in the marketplace for underground mining lubricants. Low flammability of water-miscible hydraulic fluids is the focus for products used by high-tech winning machines. "Our SOLCENIC product portfolio offers a broad range of lubricants meeting the requirements of OEMs building the machines and mine operators. Water quality plays an important role in this context. "POWERGEAR" is the second important product line offering a wide viscosity spectrum, which was developed especially for the extreme conditions in mining operations. Just recently, FUCHS LUBRITECH set up an extra division for greases used by the mining industry. FUCHS also markets reagents for coal flotation, a method for the treatment of high-grade coal dust.
»There is hardly an industry as globally oriented as mining«
- Alf Untersteller, Middle East & Africa, Mining division
"One pillar of our success is our world-class technology but service and logistics are just as important," emphasizes Mr. Untersteller and gives an example: "Several years ago, a mine operator contacted our Australian subsidiary on a Saturday in the middle of the night reporting a severe problem. The oil tanks were empty and the mine would have to shut down in 48 hours if nothing changed." Within a few hours, the FUCHS team started up production and the laboratory and produced 20,000 liters of the customer-specific hydraulic fluid and loaded them on trucks at dawn. The drivers stepped on the gas and reached the remotely situated mine within two days, just in time to keep operation running. "Such an action definitely strengthens customer loyalty," says Mr. Untersteller.
Just as the mining industry, the Global Mining Division at FUCHS has a strong international orientation, including Head of Global Mining, Martyn Rushton, and FUCHS’ Global Mining Steering Committee. "Where questions concerning mining and arranging contacts are concerned, the members of the steering committee act as consultants for subsidiaries. Moreover, the members of the Global Mining Division from the different subsidiaries meet on a regular basis particularly at the industry's large trade fairs. This exchange within the Group is very important for every one of us," says Mr. Untersteller. "The fact that the Global Mining Division is managed from Great Britain has historical reasons. We benefit from the high competence there." Although coal mining has largely ceased in Great Britain. Currently, Australia, China and the USA are the most significant markets for mining lubricants, followed by England, South Africa, Germany and Eastern European Countries, such as Poland, Ukraine and Russia.
Despite the sharp decline of coal prices, Mr. Untersteller is convinced that FUCHS can further expand the business for mining lubricants. "That is why we invest in this sector," he refers to recent acquisitions, such as the Polish producer of flotation reagent specialties and the LUBRITENE Group in South Africa/Australia opening new African markets for the FUCHS product portfolio of mining lubricants. "This market always had its ups and downs," says Mr. Untersteller. "First forecasts predict that raw material prices will go up again in the next three years."