Master Drilling ready to capitalise on bull market in mining after “toughest year” in 2020

Danie Pretorius, CEO, Master Drilling

JOHANNESBURG-listed drilling company, Master Drilling, said orders in its new financial year were at “an all-time high” following a difficult period in 2020 which was negatively affected by Covid-19 related disruption.

“It was the toughest year for us,” said Master Drilling CFO, Andre van Deventer, in an interview with BusinessLive. Annual revenue for the full year fell 17% to $123m. After-tax profit fell to $3m from $15m the year before. No dividend was declared.

“Master Drilling’s overall performance for the year was weighed down by the weak global economic growth environment entering 2020, which was compounded by the material impact of Covid-19 across the 23 countries in which we operate, from a human, financial and operational perspective,” said Danie Pretorius, CEO of Master Drilling.

For this year, however, the Fochville-based company has an order book of confirmed contracts worth $213m (R3.2bn) which compares to $150m a year earlier. Master Drilling has tendered for up to $540m worth of work, said BusinessLive.

The order book is likely to be grown in the next few months as it secures a further set of raise-bore contracts at Northam Platinum’s Zondereinde mine as it expands into relatively shallow ground, and potentially an order from Anglo American Platinum to deploy the innovative mobile tunnel boring machine at its Mogalakwena mine, possibly in the second quarter of 2021, said the publication.

The company is closely guarding its cash after investing heavily in its fleet of raise-bore drills, with work coming from West Africa’s gold industry and in jurisdictions such as Australia, Canada, and Russia presenting new opportunities, said BusinessLive.

“Having made significant investments in our fleet, technology, and geographical diversification over the past couple of years, we are now positioned to capitalise on the predicted bull run without requiring additional capital investment,” Pretorius said.