(EnergyAsia, February 14 2012, Tuesday) — US heavy machinery supplier Caterpillar is deepening its reach into China’s coal industry with the recent sale of an automated longwall plough and the acquisition of a Chinese coal mining equipment company.

Caterpillar said it has secured an order to supply its 11th DBT/Bucyrus/Caterpillar plough system in China to Luliang Dongyi Group member Gasification Co Ltd for use on a 240m-wide longwall face in the Xinyan mine in Shanxi province.

The US firm expects to deliver the GH800 plough with an armoured face conveyor using the company’s PF3 line pans and PMC-R roof support control system in the first quarter of 2013 to mine a metallurgical coal seam of about one-to-1.2 m high.

“In China, automated plough longwall faces from the Caterpillar predecessors, DBT and Bucyrus, hold all of the production records for seams less than 2m thickness,” Caterpillar said.

The company acquired Milwaukee-based Bucyrus last year to expand its mining product range and thrust it into the underground coal mining market.

Last November, Caterpillar said a wholly-owned subsidiary acquired Hong Kong-listed ERA Mining Machinery Limited which designs, manufactures, sells and supports underground coal mining equipment in mainland China through its wholly-owned subsidiary Zhengzhou Siwei Mechanical & Electrical Equipment Manufacturing Co Ltd, commonly known as Siwei.

As part of its 2015 strategy, Caterpillar is targeting the mining industry and improved support of its customers as a key corporate imperative.

Steve Wunning, Caterpillar group president with responsibility for the resource sector, said the acquisition underscored its long-term commitment to continue to invest in China and support its growing base of local customers.

“We intend to build on Siwei’s strong reputation and relationships in China, further investing in its mining roof support business and operations, while utilising Caterpillar’s global reach and organisation to help bring Siwei’s products to more customers outside of China,” Mr Wunning said.

ERA chairman Emory Williams said: “Caterpillar has been an important contributor to improving equipment, safety and mining practices around the world. We believe they will continue to make a substantial ongoing contribution to the industry in China.”

Siwei chairman and CEO Wang Fu said: “Caterpillar has developed a reputation for its community involvement and contributions to society in the communities where it operates and for the strong relationships it has with its employees.”

Siwei possesses a manufacturing base of 600,000 square meters in Zhengzhou, Henan province where it manufactures and sells roof support equipment to underground mining customers in China.

Caterpillar intends to retain key executives of Siwei, and its base of employees including retaining Mr Wang Fu to continue leading the operations of the business.

Caterpillar has a long history in China, including growing its presence from a single sales office in Beijing across the country covering 16 locations for manufacturing, four research and development facilities, three logistics and parts centres and other offices over the last three decades.

In addition, Caterpillar has made significant investments in China and announced a wide range of new facilities, with a total of nine new facilities under construction.

Caterpillar and its independent dealer network have more than 20,000 employees and workers to support its customers across the country.