The US$6 billion-a-year Marmon Group put its Long-Airdox coal-mining equipment business on the market earlier this year, continuing the decade-long ownership reshuffle which saw Long-Airdox, Joy Mining Machinery and Deutsche Bergbau Technik emerge in the late 1990s as the world's three dominant global longwall equipment suppliers.
Now Germany's DBT and US-based Joy head a list of five companies bidding for Long-Airdox. They are the front-runners in a pack which includes American crushing and conveying equipment manufacturer Oldenburg Group, the owner of Continental Conveyor & Equipment Company, NESCO, and a consortium headed by former Continental executive, Ray McGee.
The successful bidder is likely to be known within a month.
While bound not to disclose details of the bidding process, DBT did reveal at the recent opening of a new $4 million regional support facility at Mackay, Queensland, that it saw pros and cons in a Long-Airdox merger.
Managing director, manufacturing, Dr Dirk Vorsteher, said while the DM670 million company did not anticipate much medium-term growth in the supply of longwall equipment DBT was actively exploring acquisition opportunities to supplement its existing product line and "some of our specific interests include shearers and continuous miners"
"We feel that in our core competence of longwalls, in the best case scenario we will be stable," he said.
"We are able to compensate the losses in the German market in the informational field, but our overall growth is not sufficient. So if we want to expand, and we do want to expand, then we have to delve into other markets.
"In view of our goals, Long-Airdox is of obvious interest to us, but beyond that I have no further comment," he said. "We want to be able to provide our customers with the broadest equipment purchase options possible, so that they could buy selected products from us as well as full systems.
"Long-Airdox is an interesting company and it would give us a good synergy. With the [Long-Airdox] shearer DBT would have everything in the longwall itself, however, final choice of shearers is still up to the customers. This is an important part of our strategy.
"The Australian market seems to be a Long-Airdox friend, the American market seems more to be a Joy friend. The eastern markets have hundreds of Eickhoff shearers. Being a supplier of a longwall system without offering an individual or specific shearer has its advantages. But there are issues that make it interesting to us to have the shearers."
Vorsteher said DBT was a "solid and profitable business". Global consolidation within the group had been achieved by merging 64 companies into a global structure of 17, with an international engineering and manufacturing network supported by the company's factories.
DBT Australia's new Mackay facility has one single-lift 52 tonne overhead crane, and two 10t overhead gantry cranes. The workshop will carry out repairs to, and overhauling of, DBT equipment such as beam stage loaders and armoured face conveyors.
DBT introduced to the Australian market a new online analyser for use in coal preparation plants at the Queensland Mining and Exhibition in July. —International Longwall News