MTE Exhibitions has made a remarkable comeback after being floored by Covid-19 three months ago. The company’s digital offering is as close as any supplier will get to a mine during level 3 lockdown, writes Leon Louw.    

Andrew Macnamara, director of MTE. Image credit: MTE

Andrew Macnamara, director of MTE. Image credit: MTE

If you are a mine supplier or service provider in southern Africa and you have not heard of MTE Exhibitions’ roaming roadshows, it’s time you find out exactly what they do.

MTE is one of those unique business concepts that makes your jaw drop and think: why did I not think of that? For 27 years, the company has been connecting suppliers of products and services with mining operations in southern Africa. “How do they do that?” is the most often-heard response when I tell suppliers about MTE.

Ask any company that has been trying  to sell solutions to any mine on the continent at any time, and they will let you know in no uncertain terms just how difficult it is to connect with any person of substance on site, let alone management. Well, for those salespeople who have been phoning the skin off their fingers, MTE Exhibitions is the solution. MTE takes you to the mine and introduces you to the people who matter.

Andrew Macnamara, director at MTE, has built up an impressive network across Africa that includes, amongst others, senior vice-presidents, general managers, engineering managers, procurement managers, engineers, and of course, a long list of suppliers. Macnamara has been with MTE for more than 12 years and has experienced all the ups and downs of this volatile industry.

“Before we take our show on the road, I visit all the mining sites in advance, meet the relevant people face-to-face, and find out what sort of solution they need to solve specific problems. We then scan our extensive list of suppliers and offer them floor space at our mobile exhibition, which is normally set up close to, or in many cases, right at the mine site. Each mine is unique, and grapples with its own unique challenges,” Macnamara explains.

This is where MTE plays such an important role. The visitors are high-quality, and the exhibitors provide the exact service, or engineer the exact solution that management needs, whether it be conveyor belts, roof support, heavy-duty water pumps or energy-efficient crushers.

Because MTE is by nature a face-to-face business, Covid-19 has for obvious reasons severely disrupted its calendar, and it is unlikely that MTE will be hosting any shows this year. However, Macnamara says that the company will be monitoring the opportunities closely. “If an opportunity arises, and we have full buy-in from the operations and suppliers, we will be back on the ground hosting our high impact exhibitions,” he says.

Digital impact

Never short of innovating, MTE Exhibitions has now gone digital. It is, of course, not the ‘real deal’, but it is as close as any supplier will ever get to a mine’s technical and procurement teams during level 3 lockdown.

“The impact of Covid-19 has been significant. For obvious reasons it is not possible to host shows during this time, so we had to innovate and go digital, like most businesses were forced to do during the strict lockdowns. Under normal circumstances our primary offering is interaction between buyer and seller. In a way, we are still doing that, only digitally,” Macnamara explains.

The digital booklet is called Products and Services Solutions Review, which is distributed to all the local mines in the areas where MTE would have held their roadshows. The Rustenburg booklet was distributed recently, and the company will be focusing on nine other areas throughout the year, including Namibia, Zambia, Tete in Mozambique and Botswana.

“In South Africa, we will focus on Steelpoort in Mpumalanga, Sibanye-Stillwater’s operations in the Carletonville area on the West Rand, the coal regions in and around Witbank, and the manganese and iron ore operations in the Northern Cape,” says Macnamara.

MTE had a good response for its Rustenburg offering with more than 25 companies participating, including 10 local SMEs and members of the Royal Bafokeng Development Enterprise.

MTE’s new digital solution is a cost-effective way for those suppliers trying to connect to regional mining operations. In addition to the digital booklet, MTE also offers what they refer to as a ‘product blast’. The ‘blast’ gives suppliers and service providers an opportunity to connect with mines across Africa to showcase their product or service on a multimedia platform. Macnamara says that the uptake from a constrained mining industry has exceeded all expectations. Suppliers interested in being part of this innovative marketing solution are encouraged to contact the MTE or African Mining teams.

Macnamara has fascinating insight into the mining industry of Africa, and the unique challenges each mine has to find solutions for. The one benefit of the Covid-19 lockdown is that Macnamara has been stuck in the office, which made it possible for me to interview him about his views and outlook for the African mining industry. The full interview will be published in the September issue of African Mining, so make sure not to miss it!