By Scott Wright

WEIR Group has reported an 11 per cent rise in orders from continuing operations for the first quarter amid improving conditions in the mining and infrastructure markets, supported by “near-record” commodity prices.

Glasgow-based Weir, which provides equipment to the global mining industry, flagged an encouraging start to the year after profits were hit in 2020 by the impact on activity from coronavirus. Weir’s pre-tax profits from continuing operations fell by three per cent to £184 million last year, which chief executive Jon Stanton said had been a “highly resilient performance in extraordinary circumstances.”

Those results, which Weir reported in March, revealed a strong recovery in the fourth quarter, and the company signalled the momentum had continued into the first quarter of 2021.

Orders were up by 7% on quarter four of 2020 as activity continued to normalise, Weir said.

The company reported a 67% rise in original equipment orders for the period, alongside a strengthening project pipeline. But after-market orders were down 2%, reflecting residual Covid disruption to ore production, Weir noted. Mr Stanton said yesterday: “The group has had a good start to the year against the backdrop of ongoing Covid challenges. As expected, conditions continued to improve in both mining and infrastructure markets reflecting increasing customer confidence in a broad-based economic recovery and near-record prices for commodities essential to growth and carbon transition. This was reflected in continued positive development in our project pipeline and improving order conversion of our early cycle product lines and technologies that deliver significant sustainability benefits.”

Weir said it expects profits growth for the full year to be in line with current market expectations.

Separately, the company announced yesterday that it has won a £36m contract to provide energy-saving solutions to Ferrexpo, a major exporter of iron ore pellets to the global steel industry, in Ukraine. The Scottish company said the initial order, which includes the supply of high-pressure grinding rolls and screens, would reduce energy consumption by more than 40% compared with traditional mining technologies.

Mr Stanton added: “This is a great endorsement from one of the world’s leading miners of the key role Weir’s technology has in making mining operations more efficient and sustainable. It is also an excellent example of the benefits of working in partnership and using innovative engineering to increase productivity and reduce emissions.”