1st Quarter 2021
Shipments during the first three months of 2021 slowed from the rapid pace recorded in the last quarter of 2020. The number of machines delivered was essentially level while the value of these shipments increased by 6.3% (due to changes in product mix and size-classes within products). Thus Parker Bay’s Surface Mining Equipment Index (value-weight with Q1 2007 = 100) rose to 68.4, the highest since Q3 2019. In contrast, unit deliveries increased by 12.9% YoY while value of shipments were higher by just 7.6% compared to Q1 2020, pointing out once again that quarterly variations can often be quite irregular. Taken in this context, the market expansion appears to be continuing albeit at a slower pace. But we would expect to see higher growth during the balance of the year especially in light of strong mineral market dynamics and a presumed global economic recovery from the pandemic-induced contraction.
Shifts among products were even more pronounced than usual. Unit shipments of hydraulic shovel/excavators were up more than a third; trucks by 15%. In sharp contrast, crawler and wheel dozer deliveries were down by one fourth and wheel loaders by over 35%. Shifts within each product line are even less reliable indicators of long-term trends. Average truck capacity was little changed Q1 2021/Q4 2020 but large gains were recorded at both ends of the size range with both 90-mt payload units and ultra-class units showing the greatest gains.
Geographically, shipments growth accelerated in Latin America to the highest level in seven years while gains in Australasia represented a mere rebound from the Q4 level which was the weakest in four years. Shipments to African mines, which typically swing up and down, decreased by nearly 20% as did North American deliveries. Deliveries to mines in Russia/CIS continued the Q4 recovery after very weak sales during the first three quarters of last year.