When Bell Equipment joined MEMSA, it provided the ideal opportunity for Bruce to become involved in what he describes as 'a dynamic industry cluster'. The mining industry, and this includes competitors, needs to work together to preserve the uniquely skilled and innovative South African mining equipment sector. A cluster provides the perfect place for companies to do this in a safe environment recognised, indeed established at the direction and with the support of government.

The sustainability of the cluster, however, relies heavily on membership.

Bruce plans to steer the cluster successfully through his 6-month interim period, and is happy to report that there has also been an uptake in membership, a considerable achievement given that the mining sector has until recently been under immense pressure. He recently campaigned for the introduction of a second- and third- tier suppliers category, and in particular companies that provide componentry to larger OEMs.

The next task will be to introduce Associate Membership, for companies and corporations that service the clusters members.

Looking at challenges that remain, Bruce says there is a persistent belief that imported equipment is somehow superior to locally manufactured machines. In terms of ‘yellow metal’ such as ADTs, graders, rollers, and materials handling equipment, of the nearly 30 players competing locally in this sector, only two are local manufacturers.

In order for MEMSA to attract high calibre members, it needs to offer a sound value proposition. “Becoming a force to be reckoned with within the mining equipment sector requires us to put on the table exactly what we are offering, and the benefits associated with membership,” says Bruce. Together MEMSA and members are taking on the global giants of the industry and succeeding. However, what does make imported equipment more attractive to local customers is the deep pockets of global players when it comes to offering incentives and preferential interest rates and import duties.

What the local mining equipment industry ultimately requires for its long-term survival is access to export finance and a level of import protection, to ensure tax payers money is spent at home, and this is where MEMSA can play a vital role in being able to engage government and other stakeholders. “When you are a member of MEMSA, you are part of a powerful collective, that can gain traction for everyone. This gives us a powerful platform in which to approach government in terms of our common objectives as an industry. It also unlocks synergy between all our members to address common problems and issues.”

As for the future, the easing of Covid-19 regulations and restrictions has resulted in ‘green shoots’ in the mining industry. “Gold and other commodity prices are up, and it looks as if we have finally turned the corner,” says Bruce.

MEMSA would like to thank Bruce for freely giving of his time and expertise in leading the cluster.