Scotland business

Engineering giant Weir Group sees profits and orders rise

Engineers Image copyright Weir Group
Image caption Weir Group is predicting rising demand for technology to mine valuable metals from rock

Scottish engineering giant Weir Group has seen a rise in orders and profit, after making a big move into mining.

The company said there was increasing demand for technology to extract valuable metals from rocks that are needed for green energy projects.

Almost 75% of Weir's revenue now comes from mining after it bought tool producer Esco last year.

The Glasgow-based firm said operating profits for the year so far were up 5% to £172m.

Orders were up 17% to £1.4bn, while revenue stood at £1.3bn - a 22% increase.

Government 'pressure'

At the same time, Weir said the North American oil and gas market remained tough, although there had been "good demand" for its first electric fracking pump.

Weir said there was rising global demand for products that helped turn mined rock into metals, such as copper, which is needed to build electric cars.

Chief executive Jon Stanton told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland's programme that it was a great market to be in.

"If you think about copper and lithium and all the battery metals that are going to be required as the world goes through a carbon transition over the next few years, it's a good place to be," he said.

Image copyright Weir Group
Image caption Weir has also been working with mining firms to cut waste in tailings dam, like this one in Brazil

Mr Stanton said the company was also providing equipment to reduce energy consumption in mining, given that crushing rock was one of the most energy intensive processes in the world.

He added: "There's no doubt in mining that our customers are under quite a lot of pressure from governments, NGOs, the communities they operate in, to improve their own sustainability.

"That's about reducing energy and water consumption and reducing emissions. Weir as a technology provider to our mining customers, I think, is uniquely placed to help them meet those challenges and that's all about technology."

Weir said it was also working to help mining companies cut waste traditionally stored in what is known as a tailings dam, after the issue became a focus of the Brazil dam disaster at the start of the year.

Meanwhile, Mr Stanton said all Weir workers had been given free shares, worth £300 this year and £300 next year, applying to employees in 53 countries.

And amid increasing concern among business groups and others that the UK could leave the European Union this year without a trade deal, he added: "Recent developments don't make a big difference for us - less than 2% of our revenues are into the EU.

"We've done the contingency planning for the small part of the group that is potentially exposed to a No-deal Brexit."

For the latest business news as it happens, follow BBC presenter Andrew Black's updates each weekday morning on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme between 0600 and 0900.

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