Standing behind your product creates a confidence attractive to every mining company, large or small, and is the philosophy that guides Cast Resource Equipment Limited, a Sudbury-based distributor and remanufacturer of underground mining equipment.
The business began as a three-way partnership between Fred Castron, Myles Bruce and Everett Henderson in 1993. All three used their combined experience and international connections to grow the business. Both Fred Castron and Bruce came from Blackwood Hodge, a worldwide distributor of surface and underground mining equipment. Henderson, who specialized in electronics, was an Inco retiree.
Their experience and knowledge promptly attracted quality field service and in-house mechanics and welders, said Mike Castron, who looks after technical sales for the company.
During the '90s, Cast Resource expanded as the economy picked up. In 1997, the company moved to a 13,000-sq. ft. building on 2.5 acres. Now under the ownership of Fred and Bruce, the company employs 30 people and shares space with Maximum Mining, a contract mining company that rents equipment from Cast Resource's 12-piece rental fleet, complementing both businesses.
Remanufacturing LHDs, trucks, drills and shotcrete equipment is the mainstay of the business.
In order to make rebuilds more attractive to customers, Cast Resource offers new machine warranties on its remanufactured products.
"We wanted to reassure customers that what they were getting was going to be good and perform to their expectations," Mike said.
The rebuilds sell for between 60 and 65 per cent of the price of a new machine. Depending on the extent of the rebuild, a remanufactured machine will get a new engine, hoses, buckets, electrical systems and tires, all meeting the latest standards.
Mike said the company has had remanufactured machines more than 15 years old that are still working.
Within the last five years, the company's export business has increased to more than 70 per cent of total sales. The company began as a supplier to local mines, but intense competition from the OEMs has pushed Cast Resource and other local supply companies into the export market.
"We began exporting from the inception of the company 12 years ago and we've increased our export sales every year. Countries include Ireland, the U.S., Mexico, Chile, Brazil, France, South Africa and Russia. This year, we made our first sale to China."
The company also has a branch office in Nevada with five employees.
In addition to its remanufacturing business, Cast Resource distributes utility vehicles for Finnish manufacturer Normet Mining Equipment, and radio remote control systems for Cattron-Theimeg. Cast Resource itself manufactures the RCC Plus kit that interfaces with Cattron-Theimeg receivers and transmitters.
Cast Resource is currently the only Canadian distributor of Normet products, which include wet shotcrete units, scalers, emulsion loaders, scissor lifts, boom trucks, cement haulers and underground personnel vehicles.
Recently, the company sold its fifth Normet wet-shotcrete unit to Inco's Stobie Mine.
"We are excited about our recent Normet shotcreting sales to both Inco and the Diavik Diamond Mine in the Northwest Territories. The Inco sale in particular was exciting because it was the 400th wet shotcrete sprayer sold globally by Normet and its global distribution network," said Mike.
Normet's 30 years of experience has made it a leader in wet shotcrete technology.
The machine can shoot a stream about 42 to 43 feet, and the semi-automated, telescopic boom has a reach of 36 feet, with flexibility to go around corners, a feature that is especially popular with operators, said Mike. The wet application has less rebound, resulting in less waste and increased cost savings.
"A lot of the mines put an accelerator in the mixture, which helps to make the shotcrete harden faster, because they are constantly striving for faster cycling time."
The 22,000-pound machine is durable and built for the harsh underground environment. It comes in diesel or electric and ranges in price from approximately $500,000 to $800,000.
Normet offers a lifetime care and customer service warranty provided through Cast Resource.
As the company moves forward, Mike says it will continue to stand behind the workmanship of its remanufactured equipment and provide quality service and support for its distributed products.