Master Drilling has acquired a 25% stake in A&R Group – an underground control systems company.

Over the years A&R Engineering & Mining Supplies (Founded 1978), has become a leading operator in the underground rail bound and trackless equipment hardware environment in terms of management systems and focusing on safety solutions. The digitisation by installation of thousands of intelligent devices across various mining operations has resulted in various spin-offs that include measurement of productivity, missing person location, pedestrian, vehicle and other asset tracking – all contributors to operational optimisation opportunities.

“Technological innovation remains a priority for Master Drilling as we continue to support our clients to optimise their operations, move down the cost curve and increase safety. Investing in A&R is synergistic for Master Drilling and aligned with our strategy to diversify our services and invest in businesses that help us meet our clients’ demand for increased mechanisation and digitisation,” said Danie Pretorius, Master Drilling CEO. He added that other opportunities with low capital requirements and short return cycles were also being considered.

Flagship offering

“We are delighted to have Master Drilling become a shareholder of reference in A&R and look forward to leveraging the solidified relationships that have been established with mining houses. While A&R is currently focused on providing its services and hardware to South African clients, with a focus on Tier 1 and Tier 2 underground miners, we believe that there is a clear opportunity to broaden our reach across different markets that Master Drilling operates in globally,” commented Giel Oberholster, A&R Group MD.  

The core offering of Lamproom Solutions & Consulting (LSC), part of the A&R Group, is the Comprehensive Mine Management System (CMMS).  The system (software) undergoes continual enhancement and development and together with the hardware supplied has enabled LSC to become a leader in this field within the mining industry, currently managing more than 100 000 lamps on a daily basis over a wide geographical area. 

The ongoing need and drive for intelligent management information is constantly driven by the end user and this service is provided by Moxie Digital whose area of expertise is centred around providing reporting and data visualisation as well as 24/7 software support for the CMMS.

Since acquiring a stake in Embedded IQ (EIQ), a Johannesburg-based R&D business, over a decade ago, the Group has developed proximity avoidance hardware for underground rail bound and trackless vehicles to facilitate safe and efficient mining. Equipment and systems supplied by the Group track the movements of more than 50 000 people and machines underground in South Africa daily and, through specialised hardware, allow missing personnel to be located. The Group’s competitive position is maintained by prioritising safety through innovation tailored for South African mines.

A&R is a capital-light business with short return cycles, and minimal working capital needed for the deployment of projects. The company is also highly cash generative and has experienced stable earnings in the past four years, making A&R a sound investment for Master Drilling. The entrepreneurial spirit of the founders of A&R is a natural fit for Master Drilling, and the Group’s vision and strategic intent, together with the A&R founders, is firmly founded on the objective of continued business growth.

As Master Drilling’s strategy is geared towards developing the opportunities that innovation and technology present within the mining industry, further diversification into hardware selling and support, software licencing and data analytics has become one of the ways that the company has differentiated itself from its competitors.

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