Continued from page 20

FUCHS Lubricants UK and FUCHS Turkey colleagues underground with a mining engineer.

FUCHS’ best-known and best-selling underground mining products come under the Solcenic portfolio of low flammability, water-miscible hydraulic fluids which meet the requirements of OEMs building the machines, as well as mine operators.

In fact, in many countries fire resistant hydraulic lubricants became a legal requirement after a huge fire at a coal mine in Marcinelle, Belgium, killed 262 people in 1956.

“You take the mine water, you mix it with our Solcenic concentrate and the solution is a controlled emulsion,” said Martyn. “It provides corrosion protection for the hydraulic system and some lubrication. It has to resist attack from microorganisms to produce a filterable, hydraulic medium which can’t be compressed.

“And then each country is different. In Ukraine at the moment, for example, there is still conflict. All of the coal which heats the Ukraine comes from the Donets Basin. We are still managing to supply product, manufactured in the UK, to that area every week.

“Some of the coal mines have been critically damaged and may never open again – but even during hard times it’s in everyone’s interests to keep some of the lights on.

“Russia is a huge market for us but we’ve seen the devaluation of the Russian Rouble and Western products can be very difficult to sell – or impossible under an embargo. However, what we do have in Russia, is a newly-commissioned modern manufacturing plant which has meant we’ve been able to maintain our sales. We supply the plant with some very special super concentrates made in the UK.

“The Kuznetsk coal basin is in the middle of the Siberian Plain. The Siberian winter can be quite challenging. The coldest I’ve experienced is minus 38 Celsius. It was certainly a test for our Western clothing.” Martyn said the key to FUCHS’ success is respecting different cultures and offering personal service and expertise.

“Our technical people are brought from within the industry – and that’s crucial,” he said.

“We bring in mining engineers and FUCHS can train them in lubrication. Industry knowledge is key when you’re sitting there with a mining engineer. They recognise you know what you’re talking about.

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“Deep mining is very dangerous and our customers need to know they can trust us. In a deep mine you stand on a lift and you might go 600 or 800 metres underground. The products have to stand up to the harsh conditions and they have to do their job.

“We send out our people to countries to provide training seminars and show them how to maintain fluids and so on.

“We also bring people to the UK and use our fantastic facilities and labs dedicated to mining. We show our customers the benefits of the products and that is key. “Moreover, the members of our global mining division, from different subsidiaries, meet on a regular basis, particularly at large trade fairs, to exchange ideas.”

Martyn with Nikolai (FUCHS Russia) in Novokuznetsk.

“The roof support system is operated using the Solcenic hydraulic fluid which holds up the roof while the miners are cutting coal. The roof supports are filled with the Solcenic emulsion, and with their unique formulation, this greatly reduces the risk of fire.”

The second important range of products is the Powergear range of high-viscosity lubricants which have been specially developed to meet the requirements of mines.

Each fluid has to pass vigorous testing before it can be used underground – and some are manufactured for a specific mine and its conditions.

Martyn added: “We design our fluids to meet industry standards. For example,


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