A year ago BELAZ set up an office in Richmond Hill, Ontario, with the intention of selling its first mining truck in North America. Breaking into the North American heavy equipment market isn’t easy, especially for offshore companies without the vast dealer networks offered by some of the bigger players like Komatsu, John Deere and Caterpillar. Having dealers in place gives customers the security of knowing that if there are problems with the main equipment or parts, a solution or a repair crew is just a phone call away. When it comes to mining trucks, the expense of the parts – a single tire can cost upwards of $40,000 – and the logistics of getting parts to mines which are usually far from any population centre, means the dealer-customer relationship is especially important, mining.com noted.
Equally important though is the quality of the truck, and its overall cost of ownership, and here is where BELAZ, a Belarus-based manufacturer of large dump trucks, stakes its value proposition as one of the world’s most pre-eminent mining truck makers.
Dominance in CIS
Where Caterpillar dominates the mining truck market in North America, capturing an estimated 80% marketshare, in the republics of the former Soviet Union (CIS), the opposite is true, with BELAZ, a holding company with six divisions and almost 70-year-old history, owning more than 90% of the CIS market. Along with mining trucks, BELAZ also manufacturers underground mining machinery, lifting and special purpose mining vehicles, rail cars and owns a machine tooling plant.
The mining trucks are made and assembled at its factory in the town of Zhodino, about 40 kilometres from Minsk, the capital of Belarus. BELAZ can easily produce up to 2,000 trucks a year, ranging from a 30-tonne payload vehicle to its massive 450-tonne 7571 truck, which is the largest mining truck on the market today. BELAZ trucks can be seen moving all types of minerals in 70 countries, with the strongest markets being the CIS, Europe, Mongolia, China, South Africa and Indonesia, which recently purchased a large fleet.
Cracking North America
However the BELAZ group has yet to sell many trucks to North and South America (with the exception of a few trucks in Chile, Venezuela and Cuba), but that is something the group hopes to change.
A year ago BELAZ set up an office in Richmond Hill, Ontario, with the intention of selling its first mining truck in North America. Privately-owned Belaz North America has the full backing of the BELAZ Group, which sees Canada, the U.S. and Mexico as a market it is eager to compete in, says Yuri Tarasov, executive director of Belaz North America.
“They’re strong everywhere else, but North America and South America, not so much. So we set up just last year, and we’re going after this market full blast. We’re talking to big and small and all sorts of companies that are potential customers for BELAZ, and we’re gaining plenty of momentum and have lots of interest,” Tarasov told MINING.com in a recent interview.
So how does an outsider get under the skin of the established mining truck insiders? According to Tarasov, the key is to support the truck buyer as much as possible, by bringing in all the necessary parts for the first year of operation, as well as support personnel.
“We’re all ready to put a truck for testing anywhere in this market and show our North American customers that BELAZ is a reliable option,” he said. “And since we have lots of experience doing the same thing before, we’ll bring all the parts required, we’ll bring all the people needed to support the truck.” He said Belaz North America has spoken with major component suppliers like Cummins, MTU, Siemens and General Electric, and all have offered BELAZ their service support network.