Metro Machinery Group (MMG) will provide more than Bt1.5 billion worth of Caterpillar construction and mining equipment to a gold and copper mine in Laos as part of its plan to boost its sales there to Bt10 billion this year. “The company has put a focus on the Laotian market because of its very high mining growth. About 400 executives and technicians from Thailand have been dispatched to Laos in an attempt to expand the market and provide 24-hour maintenance,” Thongsai Burapachaisri, chairman of Bangkok-based Metro-Cat, said yesterday.
Australia-based MMG has bought 70 units of machinery and service contracts for copper mining in Laos in a deal worth US$50 million (Bt1.5 billion), he said.
The market in Laos for heavy construction and mining machinery is growing rapidly, thanks mainly to aggressive mining development, and that has helped the company’s sales to grow consistently, he said.
After operating its subsidiary in Laos for three years, Metro-Cat recorded about Bt10 billion in annual sales and expects to book the same sales figure this year. Sales so far this year have passed Bt5 billion.
Late this year, Metro-Cat plans to sign a contract with a mining company in Laos to sell about 70 units of machinery for about Bt2 billion.
Next year, Metro-Cat’s sales in Laos are forecast at no less than Bt10 billion.
Metro-Cat also covers China’s southwestern market for Caterpillar, where it expects a 5-per-cent rise in sales to about Bt30 billion this year. Its growth target for next year is 10 per cent on the Chinese government’s policy for more expansion into this area.
Metro-Cat already has 120 branches in China’s southwest and has no expansion plan for next year.
In Thailand, Metro-Cat forecasts its sales to grow 20 per cent to Bt8 billion this year thanks to demand for replacement of machinery after last year’s devastating floods. Next year’s sales growth is anticipated at no more than 10 per cent, subject to disbursement of the government budget for the country’s development.
Chris Curfman, president of Caterpillar Global Mining, said the two Caterpillar assembly plants under construction in Rayong would be used as the US-based company’s manufacturing base for large tractors and mining equipment in Asia excluding China, Japan and India. The plants are expected to commence production early next month.
About 98 per cent of the output of the $100-million plants will be shipped to the Middle East, Russia, Europe and Asean countries.
“Thailand is the regional centre, and that’s why the country was chosen as the manufacturing base for exports to Asia, the world’s highest-growth region,” he said.
Caterpillar plans to extend its investment in Thailand, but the details cannot be determined yet. The company will expand its presence along with the region’s economic growth.
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