Master Drilling joins forces with Italian tunneling firm

In a bid to diversify its footprint and services.

JSE-listed Master Drilling announced on Monday that it has entered a joint venture with Ghella, an Italian company specialises in construction, as it seeks to pursue new construction and mining opportunities.

Master Drilling said the joint venture will operate under a newly registered Italian company called TunnelPro and will pursue tunnel boring projects in the civil construction and mining industry. The joint venture will also offer select product supply and professional services to industry third parties, the company said.

The joint venture will be 51 percent owned by Ghella and 49 percent owned by Master Drilling.  

“This joint venture is aligned to our strategy of pursuing a wider and more diversified footprint. Through TunnelPro and Master Tunnelling, Master Drilling will access projects in new sectors and across various countries whilst providing a platform for further vertical integration and risk mitigation,” said Danie Pretorius, Master Drilling’s CEO, in a statement.

Through TunnelPro, Ghella will be able to access mining sector projects in which Master Drilling is well entrenched, while Master Drilling will further diversify its activities into the smaller civil and construction sectors requiring tunnel boring.

Master Drilling and Ghella, through the joint venture, have acquired the business and trademarks of SELI Technologies, an Italian company that designs and manufactures tunnel boring machines and offers project support through professional services for the civil construction industry.

SELI was contracted by Master Drilling in constructing a Mobile Tunnel Borer to be used specifically in the horizontal and near horizontal development of mines, which is believed to cater for 80 percent of the underground mining industry’s access and contact tunnel infrastructure, said Master Drilling.

“The acquisition of SELI also gives us access to critical intellectual property and a deeper pool of skills, from engineers to experienced tunnelling personnel. I believe access to such skills will strengthen the overall competitive offering of TunnelPro and Master Tunnelling and help us to advance our tunnelling ambitions,” said Koos Jordaan, Master Drilling’s Executive tasked with furthering Master Drilling’s tunnelling strategy.

“The joint venture thus brings together two highly skilled and experienced companies and aptly positions them to become even more significant players in specialised infrastructure projects worldwide. The acquisition of SELI will further complement the skills and expertise provided by the joint venture partners.”

The purchase consideration for the shares in SELI Technologies contributed by Master Drilling will be settled from available internal resources.