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A unique bulk haulage fleet is supplying reliable, cost-effective materials-handling solutions to the copper industry, using trailers that enable return loads.

Logistics play a vital role in mining profitability, and road haulage is the backbone of supply chain logistics in African mining. While rail is an important component – particularly in linking processed product to ports for export – most bulk cargo moved between mines and processing facilities is carried by road. As a result, there are two factors mining companies must consider when contracting bulk carriers: cost-effectiveness, and reliability.

One-way traffic is one of the biggest contributors to logistics costs, so ensuring that trucks never travel empty creates an immediate saving. This is borne out by the experience of Buks van Rensburg, co-owner of Cargo CarriersZambian subsidiary Buks Haulage Limited (BHL). Established in 2004, BHL has enjoyed consistent growth in the Zambian and sub-Saharan transport sector, aided by the ability to carry return loads on most contracts, through an innovative trailer configuration.

Already active in Zambia, the DRC, Namibia and Angola, BHL is planning continued expansion into sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in the mining and farming sectors who also have a need for flexibility on return loads. It is a fast-opening market, with African growth in general still outpacing many developed nations. To succeed in the bulk haulage business and to be competitive to rail, trucking companies are going to have to develop innovative, entrepreneurial strategies and to focus on areas of business where they can be complimentary to rail. The hauliers that thrive will be those that combine appropriate technology with innovative logistics practice.

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