The shortage of ultra-large tyres is expected to drive some panic buying, particularly for off-the-road (OTR) tyres used by the mining sector, says Kal Tire’s vice president for South Africa John Martin.
“The news from three of the largest tyre manufacturers – Michelin, Bridgestone and Goodyear – is that volumes for ultra-large tyres are fully allocated for 2018,” he says.
Smithers Rapra’s new market report, The Future of Off-the-Road Tires to 2022, estimated the global market for OTR tyres to be over 3.7mt in 2017, valued at $24.8bn, with an anticipated annual growth rate of 5.2% to 2022, increasing to $32bn.
“There is a positive undertone in the market – commodities prices are pushing in the right direction, including copper, gold and platinum group metals (PGM). There is also ongoing consolidation as larger players such as Sibanye-Stillwater acquire additional operations (Lonmin). In the short term, miners will continue to look to unlock growth from brownfields expansion while gains from recent greenfields activities are expected to materialise in ‘a year or two’.”
Given that additional demand for ultra-large tyres continues to grow, mining companies will start to more aggressively look for options to extend the life of existing tyres, he says. “We expect more customers to seek innovative solutions, such as Kal Tire’s exclusive Ultra Repair process that repairs large injuries on ultra-class tyres and puts them back into service vs being prematurely scrapped.”
The company is already a significant player in the underground mining market and is hopeful of increasing its footprint in the surface mining market in the near term.
According to Martin, tyre recycling in South Africa for OTR remains a key challenge. “Very little is spent on recycling OTR tyres; the majority of the R2.30/kg levy collected has been consumed in the recycling of commercial truck and passenger tyres. As a result, there are mountain-loads of used OTR tyres stockpiled requiring an OTR recycling solution.”
Given this situation, Kal Tire is taking the lead to help small and medium enterprises establish recycling businesses, and has in-house expertise to assist with developing the OTR tyre recycling business model.
However Martin is quick to point out that while the tyre solutions provider is focused on getting the business model “up and running”, Kal Tire isn’t necessarily looking to have an ownership stake in these businesses.
Bottled water supplier to Mining Indaba 2018
The mining tyre services company recently extended its recycling efforts to the Mining Indaba, which was held in early February, where it sponsored bottled water to delegates attending the event in the drought-stricken Western Cape. According to Martin, the initiative served a two-fold purpose – apart from providing branded bottled water to delegates, it served to build brand awareness which was further reinforced with the provision of 10 branded recycling bins at the conference.
He explains that 80% of the water supplied to the conference was sourced from a private company that collected the water from a natural spring on the outskirts of Cape Town, therefore having no negative impact on the Cape Town grid water supply.
“As Kal Tire continues to strengthen its presence in Africa, we look forward to participating in premier events such as the Mining Indaba to present our unique solutions and capabilities to the mining industry.”