Rio sees Chinese mining machines as close to US in quality

The rapidly increasing quality of Chinese made mining machines is seeing them threaten US hegemony on site.

Speaking at an investor conference Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh said the miner is increasingly looking towards China and India for machinery purchases as the quality of goods made in the country rises, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“It tends to be sophisticated purchases, which sort of is a little bit intriguing,” Walsh said.

He explained that these included haul trucks, ship loading technology, and rail cars.

Pointing to the examples of a rise in quality, Walsh said: “Funnily enough, when the original ore cars came in and we evaluated those against the traditional supplier, the quality was actually much higher”.

“Instead of spot welds, for example, on the sheet metal they were actually continuous welds.”

Caterpillar and Joy were contacted by the WSJ but were unavailable for comment.

Both the major US mining machinery manufacturers have endured a rough year which has seen layoffs and cost reductions.

Joy Global recorded a 26% drop in sales and 19% drop in bookings year on year, whilst Caterpillar dramatically cut itsprofits for 2013.

In line with Rio’s beliefs in the rising quality of Chinese made machinery, both Joy and Cat are looking to expand in China.

In a recent company statement Joy said it is “accelerating the application of Joy technology and operational excellence programs into our local China product groups, and believe these new products will generate incremental sales growth in 2014”, adding that it will “continue to shift our production capability eastward close to our demand growth potential”.

Cat has previously stated its focus on China, and expanding its operations in the region.

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