Show business: bauma set for April 2016

Paul Boughton

Sabine Wagner explains that despite difficult times in the mining sector, bauma remains the number one industry event

Whether at construction sites, underground or on the seafloor, bauma shows the global industry what will influence, change and revolutionise construction and mining work in the future. The 31st edition of the leading trade fair for construction machinery, building material machines, mining machines, construction vehicles and construction equipment attracts some 3,400 exhibitors to Munich, including more than 700 companies in the sector for mining and raw-materials extraction and processing. It takes place April 11-17, 2016.

17 exhibition halls and the entire outdoor exhibition site revolve around intense networking and a professional exchange. Naturally, the mining industry’s key players are also there - which is a clear indication of how well the mining sector is integrated into bauma. As is the constantly growing visitor interest and consistently positive ratings: more than 90% of visitors gave integrating the mining sector into the fair a rating of 'good' to 'excellent'. Also impressive is the number of visitors (125,850) who stated that they were interested in the mining sector.

The bauma Forum also focuses on world premieres and the latest technologies and trends in the mining sector. In 2013, 95% of Forum visitors were full of praise - 25% even gave the Forum a top rating of 'excellent'.

Still, this much is certain: the mining sector is facing some difficult times. According to the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), the conceptual sponsor of bauma, the industry is currently moving back towards the level of 2009. Honestly speaking, that is not very promising. The most important questions are: when will prices for raw materials increase again?; when will this long dry spell be over?; and when will there be an upturn?

Unfortunately, right now, prices on raw material markets continue to fall. Oversupply in the ore sector is leading to price pressures last seen in 2009. There is also an oversupply of coal, and according to some mining companies, it is expected to continue in 2015.

Producers are trying to compensate for declining revenues by increasing production, which also fosters price pressure. In the minerals sector, the decline in prices stopped recently, and slight price recoveries are being reported. In situations such as this, mining companies tend to invest very selectively. Due to falling investments in exploration, the number of new projects is also expected to decline in the future. Production of equipment for open pit mining has increased slightly, but production levels were already 60% lower than they had been in 2012. Key markets have changed and markets are shifting. Traditional markets such as Russia, China and the USA are shrinking, while demand in the Middle East, South America and parts of Asia is up.

Although this all sounds quite gloomy, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. The VDMA estimates that, after a two-year slump, commodity prices are expected to stabilise by the end of 2015, combined with a slight upturn in certain markets such as Latin America or the Middle East. Furthermore, the VDMA sees significant potential in Norway, Saudi Arabia, Poland and Indonesia, which are among the top 10 export markets behind the USA, Russia and China.

Certainly, the market is not expected to outperform. However, mining equipment manufacturers are all working on solutions to help mines produce more efficiently, safely and profitably. "Which is why it is imperative for everyone who manages mines to come to bauma and see what's new in this special and unique setting," says Klaus Stöckmann, deputy managing director in the VDMA Mining Equipment section.

The mood is slowly becoming more optimistic – especially with bauma coming up next year. 

The boss of bauma

When asked to take a brief look back at the last bauma, in 2013, Stefan Rummel, MD of Messe München instantly has the facts to hand. “In 2013, an impressive 535,065 visitors from over 200 countries attended bauma,” he begins. “With over 200,000 visitors from outside Germany, the number of international participants was higher than ever before. In total, 3,421 exhibitors from 57 countries presented their latest products and innovations in construction and mining machinery on a record exhibition space of 575,000 square metres. With those numbers, the last edition of bauma broke all previous records for exhibitor numbers, exhibition space and number of visitors.”

And when asked to look forward to the 2016 edition of the show, Rummel is equally enthusiastic. “Apart from a high exhibitor and visitor participation, I expect that bauma 2016 will again be an unforgettable event. This show is the most important trade fair worldwide for the construction machinery industry. Moreover, the atmosphere is unique: bauma is huge, it is overwhelming, enormously busy and international - it is simply the biggest show on earth and always a successful business. And that’s exactly what I expect the next bauma to be.”