AR Controls well positioned to ride copper, cobalt and nickel wave in Africa and South America
OEM also extending its global footprint into West Africa, Australasia Pacifica and South America
With the global mining industry on the cusp of a commodity super cycle the likes of which was last seen in 2015, this remains the largest, most lucrative, and low risk market for valves in Africa. “Copper has proven especially robust during a depressed financial market,” notes AR Controls Managing Director Julien van Niekerk. It has placed the spotlight firmly on the Central African Copperbelt, the largest copper and cobalt resource in the world, centred on Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The leading importer and manufacturer of a comprehensive range of internationally recognised valves and instrumentation is successfully undertaking major work in the DRC. “We had already made inroads into the DRC a decade ago when it was considered a difficult and closed market, and now it is one of the most favoured mining destinations on the continent, especially in terms of copper,” says van Niekerk.
Apart from its ongoing expansion in Africa, AR Controls continues to extend its global footprint. This includes a strong focus on niche markets in Africa, Australia and Pacific Islands, and South America. “Our international expansion is made possible due to our dual role as both a manufacturer and a stocking distributor, as well as the excellent supply-chain management we leverage globally,” highlights van Niekerk.
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the mining industry in particular has been increased lead times. As the largest valve stockist of its type on the continent and possibly even in the Southern Hemisphere, AR Controls is hence in a unique position. “Having such a major inventory on hand is definitely a significant advantage against our competitors. Apart from supplying premium products, we also back this up with exemplary service,” highlights van Niekerk.
A major challenge remains the influx of sub-par valves into Africa from low-cost manufacturing countries. Quality is critical as it relates directly to gains in plant availability and revenue while operating in very arduous environments. “It makes it challenging for us in that we have to be innovative and at the same time have boots on the ground to physically add value to our customers’ supply chains in terms of operations and their procurement processes,” adds van Niekerk.
“Extending our reach through our channel partners, our distributors have factory trained personnel, and our aggressive on-site support maximises availability and uptime and reduces production losses. It goes a long way to forging very close relationships between ourselves and all our end users.”
AR Controls has been manufacturing the ARVALV® range since 1999 in its Vanderbijlpark factory, which has proven highly successful and has achieved a significant market penetration in critical process applications in the mining industry.
“Looking at our current market share, it is not inconceivable for us to double this in the foreseeable future,” says van Niekerk. In addition to ARVALV®, AR Controls owns the IncoValve and Controls® brand, which it acquired in 2016, and is the exclusive African and Central American distributor for international OEM DeZURIK.
“Our strategy is to break into new territories and industrial sectors, as well as continue to grow those markets where we are already entrenched. We are aggressively involved in offering new product lines to complement our existing range and ensure our pricing is competitive,” says van Niekerk.
The range of valves and actuation accessories available is robust and ideal for harsh mining environments. The core product lines are knife gate valves, concentric and high-performance butterfly valves, ball valves, non-return valves, control valves, actuation, and automation.
A key product line that has seen significant growth in demand is pneumatic enclosures, which are supplied in various materials to house and protect-critical instrumentation. It also ensures that valves installed in hard-to-reach or hazardous areas can be operated with ease from an easily accessible and clearly marked safe remote area.
AR Controls will be a major presence at Electra Mining Africa 2022 from 5 to 9 September at the Johannesburg Expo Centre. This is the first time the trade show has been held since Covid-19, with the OEM planning to take full advantage of displaying its full manufacturing and distribution capabilities and international presence. “Our significant presence will communicate clearly that we are a major contender and the partner of choice when it comes to premium valve and actuation products and back-up support and service for the mining industry,” concludes van Niekerk.