Minesteel had already been doing some parts manufacturing for Nordic, but when it took the company over, all of the manufacturing was consolidated in its two large buildings in North Bay.
Even before the acquisition, Nordic had a strong history of export sales, said Minesteel’s owner, Ron Elliot.
“A couple of years ago, Nordic put the first one of those train systems into Russia. When we went over there recently, the technology Russia was using was about 30 years behind the times. We were the first ones to open up the door into Russia,” he said.
“Currently, we have those systems in many countries all over the world, including Australia, Ghana, Sweden and Spain. Also, with Nordic, we have a full line of automated truck loading chutes that are big in North America. We have those around the world as well.”
In 2004, Minesteel started distributing products in North America and South America for a British underground locomotive manufacturer called Clayton Equipment. A year later, the company started building locomotives for Clayton in North Bay under a license agreement.
“This summer, we put six (of these locomotives) into Goldcorp in Red Lake, Ontario, and we currently have three of them going into CVRD Inco in Thompson, Manitoba. It’s a lot of growth,” he said.
“With Minesteel, Nordic Mine Technology and Clayton Equipment tied together, we can offer the complete transportation of ore from underground to surface.”
Besides manufacturing, Minesteel does custom painting and sandblasting of new and used equipment, as well as facilities.
Minesteel was founded in 1993 by Elliott. The company has quadrupled its staff since that time, going from about 15 employees to 60.
Custom work is a big focus of the company, with Minesteel engineers consulting with customers and building structures and products based on the specific requirements of the project.
Export sales have increased dramatically in the last few years, going from about 20 per cent of their business to over 50 per cent.
“It takes a lot of initiative, hard work, commitment and staying power to break into a new market. You can’t go to a new country and expect an order the first time you go there. It’s a lot of follow-up and work and building relations.”
Skips and cages have been selling especially well, with business in that area growing by “leaps and bounds” in the last five years, said Elliot.
“Now we’re getting those going into the United States and Indonesia and we’re looking at future ventures in some European countries. I’m not at liberty to say exactly where right now because you don’t want to be giving away too much.”
Minesteel is also known for its innovations, said Elliott.
The company has come up with a unique computerized control system for chutes and rail haulage systems.
“It’s for allowing the systems to be run automatically or remotely using wireless or Ethernet systems. We’re proud of that. It’s safer, cuts down on operating costs and gives the flexibility of being able to operate those trains from surface, rather than being down underground.”
Minesteel also developed unique automated ventilation doors for underground mining that are designed to withstand extremely high airflow pressures.
“I don’t think there’s anything like them in the world right now,” said Elliott.