Executive Outlook Series – Tony Handakas

Tony Handakas is Siemens' executive manager. Siemens is a technology based solutions provider specializing in the areas of water, energy, environment, healthcare, productivity, mobility, safety and security. This year, the company sponsored the 5th Annual Australian Mining Prospect Award for Outstanding Contribution to Mining. Jessica Darnbrough writes for MINING DAILY.

Darnbrough: How has the market changed for your sector of the industry in the last six months?

Handakas: The global financial crisis has certainly placed increasing pressure on the mining sector resulting in bringing the significant growth over recent years to a halt. From a market perspective, we see that those seeking finance for some projects are having difficulty securing it. Other projects are being postponed indefinitely; this is particularly the case for Junior Miners. Blue chip companies are also reconsidering expansion plans and the timing of projects in this uncertain financial environment resulting in falling commodity prices. So far, our existing committed projects and those under construction are continuing as planned. We are continuing to deliver on our projects and long-term service contracts as well as providing the market with the latest innovations to enable further cost and process efficiencies.

Darnbrough: What are the major trends and variations in the market that you would expect to see over the next 18 months, and in the longer term (five years)?

Handakas: In the next 18 months our focus will be on promoting cost reduction programs and productivity initiatives to the market. The five year outlook remains positive, as the financial crisis dissipates and normal consumption and market demand return.

Darnbrough: What are the key risks for businesses in your sector moving into this period of slowing economic activity?

Handakas: We anticipate that over the next 12 months, demand for capital equipment sales and engineering requirements will soften. However, our work in hand and our growing services portfolio will also assist in transitioning through this time.

Darnbrough: What actions would you expect from companies in this market as they move to mitigate potential risks to their businesses?

Handakas: Key business risks are associated with the timing of an upturn in projects being committed over the next 12 to 18 months; this is very dependant on how well the world deals with this financial crisis.

Darnbrough: Are there opportunities in an economic climate such as this, and if so, what are they?

Handakas: Yes, opportunities exist to service and expand on current customers’ needs, to deliver productivity improvements which provide a fast return on investment within an approximate 12 month period, and look at ways to reduce costs for customers through increased efficiency.

Darnbrough: What advice would you have for mining and minerals processing professionals, as well as suppliers and distributors in this sector, as we move in to 2009?

Handakas: My advice is to strengthen your market position — stabilise the investments made over the past three years, extract as much value as possible from these assets through productivity improvements, cost reductions and efficiency projects, for example, energy saving programs. Essentially, continually strive to innovate your offerings and your processes to find better and more efficient ways of conducting business.

Darnbrough: What key messages would you have for the mining audience on the economic times ahead?

Handakas: Strive to be at the bottom of the cost curve in comparison to competitors around the world; invest in productivity, efficiency and cost reduction programs; focus on extracting the best value from investments made in recent years.

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