Master Drilling remains optimistic with headline earnings up, focused on diversifying

JSE-listed drilling services provider Master Drilling has declared a 22.9% jump in headline earnings from 61c to 75c for the six months ended June 30. Print Send to Friend 0 0 At its results presentation in Johannesburg on Monday, the group also noted a profit of $10.4-million, up by 11%, and cash generated from operations of $24-million, an increase of 175.3%, all while facing an economic downturn in the global commodity sector.

Despite fears that exploration in the global minerals industry was waning, Master Drilling CEO Danie Pretorius said there was space in other sectors in which the company could play. As such, the company would continue to implement its diversification strategy.This included the expansion of Master Drilling’s geographical footprint in South America, where it had secured a $5-million contract in Ecuador, and a $7-million contract in Colombia.

To facilitate the planned expansion of its drilling services in the financial year ahead, Master Drilling had already enlarged its fleet size to 145 rigs this year.

It now looked to grow its service offering to include noncommodity-related services, particularly in the energy sector. In the last 18 months, the group also commissioned new technology, comprising reef boring and a RD8-1500, the largest raise bore rig in the world.

Pretorius pointed out that Master Drilling’s reef boring technology would start moving underground within a week. “We should be drilling with this machine within the next six to eight weeks. This machine drills on the reef, putting the mine in a position to start stoping in about six months,” he highlighted, adding that a conventional system took between 18 months and two years to reach this level. Master Drilling’s order book for 2016 remained strong, at almost $100-million, with the copper and gold sectors representing the largest portion of work.

The company hoped to maintain exposure to the commodities market of 60%, with the remaining 40% geared towards servicing the energy and construction industries. Pretorius added that the group was not too concerned about securing future business, as mining companies planned their exploration programmes almost ten years in advance.“It’s not the machines. We can build the machines, but we need the people to operate them,” he said, adding that one of the most important aspects of the Master Drilling business model is having an utilisation rate of 75% of the raise-bore rigs, of which it now has 94.

“I don’t think the government is doing us any favours with the quality of matriculate that is leaving school.”

Article also carried by Mining Weekly