The company’s customer base has also grown.
“We still do a lot of work with Vale and Xstrata Nickel (in Sudbury), but we have distributors in the U.S., a dealer in Manitoba and we’re doing some work in Chile,” said general manager Keith King.
Minecats are also operating in Mexico, South Africa, Australia and Indonesia – in some cases through sales to mining contractors. “We even have one unit in China,” said King.
Industrial Fabrication’s Minecat 100, the company’s flagship product, is a heavy-duty carrier that can be equipped with scissor lifts, anfo loaders, aerial booms and other equipment. It can be customized for a wide variety of applications – from shotcreting to transporting mine personnel. The heavy-duty rear axle features fully enclosed wet disks and industry standard SAHR-type braking systems.
In 2010, the vehicle was redesigned to accommodate quick disassembly and reassembly for transportation to and from surface in mines with shaft access. The units are now bolted together, so they can be taken apart without having to cut the frame with torches.
Industrial Fabrication also manufactures the UT99, a rugged truck with a suspension for engineers and shift bosses, for example, who put on a lot of miles and don’t need the heavier-duty carrying capacity of the MC100.
The company added a smaller model of the MC100 last year. Dubbed the NV100, the narrow vein equivalent of the original Minecat is 72 inches wide – nine inches narrower than Industrial Fabrication’s flagship product. The NV100 is designed for the underground gold and platinum mine market.
Rounding out the Minecat family is the FL6000, a heavy-duty, 6,000-pound capacity forklift featuring four-wheel SAHR-type brakes and load leveling capability for smoother tramming.
Rautiainen says he’s cautiously optimistic about the next few years.
“Everybody saw a decline in 2009 and a lot of projects were put on hold. We were fortunate to come through it and retain all of our employees. Slowly but surely, business has been picking up. As long as the price of base metals continues to increase, we’ll be in for good times.”