Steady technological advances in the mining industry are reducing mining costs, improving blasting efficiencies and driving explosives sales, thereby boosting growth in the South African mining explosives market, a new report from market research company Frost & Sullivan indicates.
‘The Mining Explosives Market in South Africa for Coal, Iron Ore, Gold and PGMs, Forecast to 2020’ report highlights that weak global demand for commodities, combined with low commodity prices, has, however, forced mining companies to consider more closely the reduction of variable costs to ensure the viability of operations.
“The need for cost containment is driving explosives innovation, such as using bulk emulsions in massive underground and narrow-reef underground mining activities,” says Frost & Sullivan visionary science senior industry analyst Carolyn Krynauw.
She adds that the innovation drive is creating opportunities for explosives manufacturers to produce products suitable for deep-level mining that will further improve precision blasting, while remaining in line with mining companies’ cost containment strategies.
"Several explosives products currently available to mining companies have used the ‘innovation to zero’ megatrend, as identified by Frost & Sullivan,” Krynauw says.
The ‘innovation to zero’ trend refers to technological advances which will promote a world of zero emissions, zero accidents, zero fatalities, zero defects and zero breaches of security.Waterways
These products include water-resistant bulk emulsions, which release negligible levels of nitrates and no oil into underground waterways, and the recycled fuel oil in manufacturing ammonium nitrate, fuel oil, or Anfo, the most popular blasting agent currently being used.
Krynauw points out that these innovations are also helping mining companies improve environmental sustainability and reducing the overall rehabilitation costs once mines have closed.
The analysis finds that the mining explosives market for coal, platinum-group metals, gold and iron-ore, which stood at $530.7-million in 2015, will have limited growth to $564.4-million by 2020. The market will regain momentum beyond 2020 as global demand and prices of mining commodities slowly recover.
“In the short term, ageing mines, limited greenfield developments and decreasing ore grades of commodities like gold imply that more rock needs to be processed to sustain or increase commodity production. This will benefit the explosives market and raise volume sales,” observes Krynauw.
Joint ventures among explosives and initiating systems producers and distributors, such as the ones between AEL and DetNet, as well as between Sasol and Dyno Nobel, have enabled these companies to remain attractive to mining customers.