John Oberg, CEO, Sandvik Mongolia, answers questions from MMJ on his company’s work in the geological and mining sectors.
Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology has been operating here in Mongolia since 2007 and supplies equipment and parts for both open pit and underground mines and in construction. What have been your major achievements in these 11 years?
Our two main successes have been, first, to be selected as a major original equipment manufacturer for the Oyu Tolgoi Underground Project and, second, to be chosen as equipment supplier to the Thiess Khishig Arvin Joint Venture for the Oyu Tolgoi C2S Underground Decline Project. Working as a supplier to and partner in these two projects, Sandvik Mongolia has grown from employing 29 people in June 2016 to 144 in October 2018.
On-site at Oyu Tolgoi, Sandvik Mongolia provides support for the Sandvik fleet of underground drills, underground loaders, trucks and utility vehicles.
Sandvik operates in over 150 countries and has more than 43,000 employees. What are some of the other bigger projects where you are involved?
Freeport Indonesia has been for the past few years the world’s largest copper and gold mine and Sandvik is a main supplier there, with over 500 pieces of equipment used in the Grasberg Open Pit and Underground Block Cave Development project. These include over 140 underground and surface drilling rigs and over 280 underground utility vehicles. Apart from this, Sandvik has a very strong relationship with and is a major supplier to mining operations such as Hindustan Zinc in India, Non Ferrous China Africa in Zambia and Resolute’s Syama mining operations in Mali, West Africa. All of these underground mining operations in developing countries use the latest Sandvik digital and automation technology.
Sandvik is also a major equipment supplier to mining contractors such as Thiess, Redpath, Byrnecut, Barminco, Downer and Ausdrill which operate in Australia, and throughout Africa.
Supplying high quality products may be called the “hard” part of your work, but you are also known for your “soft” part, or EHS work. Could you tell us more about this?
EHS stands for Environment, Health and Safety and is a vitally important part of what we refer to as “The Sandvik Way”.
“The Sandvik Way” is the framework of how we conduct our business so that we respect all the stakeholders. Along with the focus on EHS, the Sandvik way promotes the principles of conducting business without corruption, The Sandvik Code of Conduct and The Sandvik Core Values of Customer Focus, Innovation, Fair Play, Passion to Win.
In our EHS work, Sandvik -- like many other companies -- promotes the concept of zero harm to our people, the environment we work in, our customers and our suppliers. Our workers should be able to go home at the end of the day in the same state as they came to work. Sandvik Mongolia is focused on developing a strong safety culture and we seem to be heading in the right direction with our last lost time injury being recorded in July 2016. However, the EHS journey is long and we still have a lot of work to do.
We also understand the need to respect the environment that we operate in, whether in our own facility or on a client’s site.
In regard to health, Sandvik Mongolia has a comprehensive medical programme for all employees and their families which includes an immunization programme.
The motto of Sandvik is “We Set the Industry Standard”. This aims at guaranteeing customers’ satisfaction in every way. How do you do this?
Our motto is our guiding principle and means that we strive to be nothing less than number one in the eyes of our customers. We understand that for a company in its infancy, like Sandvik Mongolia, this is a tall order but we believe it is an achievable target, given that in many other areas, Sandvik is the leader and sets the standard.
Right now our largest operation is the Oyu Tolgoi underground maintenance contract where we have 110 of our own personnel and others from associated contractors providing on-site support and maintenance service for both equipment supplied by us and other ancillary equipment that has been supplied by other manufacturers. We are continuously working on stabilizing this operation, given the regular increase in manpower requirement onsite.
Sandvik Mongolia’s work with Oyu Tolgoi started in 2011 with the supply of underground drilling equipment, underground loaders and trucks, and a global level maintenance service. The maintenance contract continues to grow as more equipment is commissioned.
Oyu Tolgoi and Sandvik Mongolia have been creating new work places, and have also been providing training. Could you tell us more about the training programmes?
A few years ago Oyu Tolgoi implemented an Apprentice Training Program and undertook to train over 100 apprentices. When Sandvik Mongolia was selected as an OEM Supplier and also provided with the opportunity to undertake a maintenance contract we worked with the Oyu Tolgoi Training Department to select apprentices from the training programme to be employed as maintenance technicians. Sandvik Mongolia was the first OEM to employ several of the women trainees under the maintenance contract.
We recognize the need to continue to develop the competence of our personnel by providing various training courses. These are arranged in Mongolia and in other countries also. To confirm our commitment to training Mongolians, Sandvik Mongolia has sent 39 of its staff to attend courses outside Mongolia for a total of 341 days, in countries such as Australia, India, Finland, Malaysia, Philippines, Sweden and Canada. As we speak we have three of our maintenance personnel attending a week-long training course in Canada on a new series drill that will be coming to Mongolia.
Are there areas other than mining and construction where you are open to cooperate?
As an equipment supplier, Sandvik is happy to work with companies in any area. Support is a two way street, and we will support companies which support us.
Sandvik Mongolia has been cooperating with The Mongolian Mining Journal for eight years. What are your feelings on MMJ’s 10th anniversary?
We have been very happy to be a partner of The Mongolian Mining Journal for the past eight years. Your journal has been a strong supporter of the Mongolian mining industry in both good times and tough and we commend it for its work in promoting mining, exploration and construction activities. Sandvik Mongolia intends to continue to work closely with the Mongolian Mining Journal.