Indaba opens door for more collaboration in mining

24th March 2023

Indaba opens door for more collaboration in mining

TIAAN KOTZE The increasing complexity of the demands on mining mean that there is today a greater imperative to collaborate within the sector

Mining has shown itself to be an important enabler of the African economy and is a central contributor to job creation and community development, says chemicals company Omnia Group COO Tiaan Kotze.

This is more the case since sustainability has become an underlying principle, with environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues considered the new currency.

Speaking during the Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town, in the Western Cape, where Omnia subsidiary BME was an exhibitor, Kotze welcomed the announcement that South Africa would be implementing a new mining cadastral system.

“It is vital that the country becomes as attractive as possible to mineral explorers and investors, and we can move in this direction through consistent policy and efficient governance,” he said.

He highlighted the need for conducive regulations and ease of doing business to foster the exploration and mining sector – especially in light of growing mineral demand owing to the global energy transition.

Omnia and BME have already established a significant presence and infrastructure in countries such as Zambia, to support the mining of battery and other minerals vital to the global energy transition.

Omnia has invested extensively in its productive capacity, which among others serves the mining industry through applications such as explosives from blasting specialist BME. This includes taking a proactive response to the country’s energy crisis, with a 10 MW solar plant being built at its Sasolburg facilities in the Free State.

“There remains a reliance on [State-owned power utility] Eskom as our plants run 24/7 and the storage of energy remains a challenge,” Kotze said.

An element of Omnia’s investment in Africa and abroad is to assist clients with certainty of supply through helping invest in their storage capabilities and facilities on site. “This will enable clients to secure essential emulsion product from us to continue operating their mines.”

Similarly, the increasing complexity of the demands on mining mean that there is a greater imperative to collaborate within the sector, said Kotze.

“There is certainly a growing need – and willingness – for stakeholders in mining to cooperate in developing solutions for a more sustainable mining industry. This was evident at the Indaba, even among competitors and other players in the value chain.”

Future Fit

BME has prioritised the circular economy in its products and services to ensure it is future fit, said BME technology GM Nishen Hariparsad.

In this endeavour, technology is making a growing contribution to the mining sector’s decarbonisation efforts.

With a key focus at the Mining Indaba being how technology was helping pave the way to a greener, sustainable future, the event was a valuable forum for facilitating collaboration on this front.

“Through our interaction with delegates at the event, it was clear that the industry is keen to embrace technology that facilitates the world’s transition to net-zero carbon emissions,” said Hariparsad.

Among the offerings highlighted at BME’s exhibition booth was its latest generation AXXIS Titanium electronic detonation system, as well as its range of digital blasting solutions.

He reiterated that the mining sector was expected to meet increased demand for raw materials for the global energy transition, which demanded higher production levels but closer adherence to sustainability principles.

Miners were, therefore, more receptive than ever to technologies that allow for greater precision and reliability, while at the same time helping contain costs and reducing carbon footprint through efficiency and productivity.

This was, again, evident from the delegates visiting the BME stand at the Mining Indaba, said Hariparsad.

“Mining companies are also looking to their supply partners to meet their decarbonisation and sustainability targets. The Indaba was another opportunity for us to share the value of our environmental and social programmes, such as our recycling of used oil in our quality emulsions,” he said.

As one of the country’s largest used oil consumers, BME aligns to the Omnia Group’s purpose of “innovating to enhance lives, together creating a greener future” – and safely disposes of over 25-million litres of oil a year.

This promotion of the circular economy also ensured that this oil did not pollute water resources and other sensitive environmental receptors, said Hariparsad.

The installation of solar power at BME’s key manufacturing plants was another step towards a low carbon future, while also strengthening the robust supply chain ensuring supply to customers.

Among the areas where BME’s collaboration philosophy is applied is its ongoing partnerships with digital technology providers, to continuously improve the power of the productivity tools in its Blast Alliance suite and AXXIS solutions.

The company also worked closely with supply chain partners and communities as part of its ESG commitments – in the interests of safety, health, education and development.

Kotze noted that in all its markets, the Omnia Group is investing to support and enable the mining sector to ensure reliable and sustainable supply to its customers.

From its solid South African base, BME and the Omnia Group as a whole have expanded operations throughout Africa and strategically into countries such as Canada, Indonesia and Australia.