Indaba theme apt for sector – explosives company

Rock and gravel flying through the air in an optimally placed blast

BLASTING BOUNDARIES The safety and environmental aspects surrounding blasting in the mining sector will be addressed at this year’s Investing in African Mining Indaba

26th January 2024


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This year’s Investing in African Mining Indaba 2024 theme ‘Embracing the power of positive disruption: A bold new future for African mining’ could not be more appropriate for the directions being forged in the field of mine blasting and explosives, reports mining explosives and blasting technology supplier BME.

“Mining has been facing the same winds of change that are impacting all sectors of the global economy,” says BME MD Ralf Hennecke.

“It is well accepted that the bold new future for African mining cannot be business as usual,” he asserts.

He explains the mining sector has also been applying technologies that are taking safety and productivity to new, improved levels.

“From our perspective as mining technology partners, BME can certainly attest to how mines are ‘embracing the power of positive disruption’,” says Hennecke.

He expresses that BME, a division of chemicals and specialised services company Omnia, has no doubt that this is a critical element of African mining’s bold new future.

Further, Hennecke highlights that one of the many questions that will be posed at this year’s Investing in African Mining Indaba relates to how Africa will respond to the increased demand for battery minerals, and whether the continent can sufficiently ramp up production while sustainably managing environmental and social impacts.

“This is a challenge to be faced as much by the mining companies themselves as their entire value chain and calls for long-term partnerships dedicated to innovation and constructive problem solving,” he says.

“In the blasting space, we feel well positioned to play our part, as our continuous improvement strategies have pushed the boundaries in terms of both sustainability and productivity.”

At the core of what quality blasting is about is the requirement to streamline downstream processes for mining customers; invariably meaning an emphasis is placed on efficiency, which has impacts on cost and carbon emissions.

Electronic Detonation

BME notes that among its most valuable lines of development is its focus on electronic detonation technology, which the company says continues to enhance blasting outcomes through its safety, accuracy, reliability and flexibility.

This technology enables BME to constantly leverage its products and services with emerging technologies, over time, which it has embraced by building related in-house expertise and capacity.

“By allowing millisecond delays between detonations, and by lengthening our firing window, mines are now able to design increasingly intricate blasts to suit their geological conditions and production requirements,” says Hennecke.

He adds that mines have also been able to initiate larger blasts, thereby limiting pit disruptions and blast-related downtime.

“Underpinning this capability has been BME’s own electronic initiation system – AXXIS – which is steadily evolved by our dedicated team of engineers, technicians and operators,” Hennecke enthuses.

In the same vein, he points out that software has been central to the positive disruption in the blasting space, and a key application has been in the planning of blasts.

Currently, mines can use blast planning programmes like BME’s Blastmap to prepare each blast to an enhanced degree of detail of complexity, as well as simulate the results.

Meanwhile, a “non-negotiable” in Africa’s mines is the prerogative of safety, Hennecke states.

In this regard, BME’s recently developed dual safety innovation in its flagship AXXIS Titanium system enables testing to be undertaken at a lower voltage than that required for detonation.

“Expanding our operations into Africa, we have applied our safety commitment to the same global standard,” he says.

“As an active member of Safex – the international industry body focused on the safe application of explosives – BME applies the highest standards across our operations. This is reflected in our zero recordable case rate.”

Further, BME has also made a contribution beyond the technical arena, and into explosives-related regulatory development in Africa, becoming the first explosives company to be licensed in countries like Mauritania and Sierra Leone.

BME’s experience means it can assist government authorities in these countries in drafting legislation that would pave the way for the responsible application of explosives.

Hennecke adds that while companies such as BME root their success in an operational foundation of secure supply chains and reliable delivery to customers across the continent, BME also embraces the need for innovation and change.

“Africa is responding actively to the revitalised search for minerals critical to the energy transition and can leverage a more sustainable future from this opportunity,” he concludes.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter


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