BME conference contributes to explosives education, information sharing

Despite low commodity prices throughout Africa, BME's vision as a group is to create customer wealth by leveraging its knowledge

FRANCOIS HAY Despite low commodity prices throughout Africa, BME's vision as a group is to create customer wealth by leveraging its knowledge

14th November 2014

By: Chantelle Kotze


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Mining explosives company BME hosted its twenty-second yearly Drilling and Blasting Conference at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s International Conference Centre, in Pretoria, last week as part of the company’s contribution to education and information sharing on blasting basics, applications and using new blasting technologies for the mining industry.

In his opening address at the conference, BME MD Francois Hay pointed out that the company had been hard at work ensuring security of supply going forward.

BME, together with its holding company, specialised chemicals provider Omnia, have over the past two years grown their nitric acid and ammonium nitrate production capacity to the point that the companies account for 40% of the entire country’s production capacity.

“We have made sure that from a supply security point of view that we had doubled up on our capacity in all instances. We have ammonia supply from petrochemicals group Sasol and from our imported ammonia from Qatar. “We also have two ammonium nitrate/calcium nitrate explosive solutions plant and a porous granular ammonium nitrate plant, which indicates that there is adequate product available,” said Hay.

Despite low commodity prices throughout Africa, BME’s vision as a group is to create customer wealth by leveraging its knowledge, which will enable its customers to maximise their efficiencies and to optimise their blasting skills by applying BME’s better blasting technologies.

In doing so, Hay suggests that instead of just focusing on traditional blasting efficiencies, such as satisfactory digging rates, eliminating flyrock and misfires and ensuring acceptable muck pile shapes, BME is helping its customers to improve their operations holistically by focusing on adding value through increased crusher throughput, decreased energy consumption, reduced ore dilution, control of the production of fines in blasting, and increasing bucket pay load by decreasing voids due to poor fragmentation.

Hay went on to mention that he hoped the conference was able to fulfil its aim of fostering an understanding of explosives and improving skills in the mining sector, which was currently being challenged by declining levels of blasting skills.

Topics discussed at the one-day conference included shocktube sensitivity by blast engineering and consulting firm RAM Inc president Robert McClure and a discussion on flyrock related to blast design by RAM Inc technical service manager Tamara Wiseman.

Manufacturer and supplier of laser guiding equipment for mining tunnels Kwikmark Mining Supplies director Charles Millet-Clay, who is also inventor of tunnelling marking systems, including Kwik-Spot, Kwik-Line, Kwik-Angle and Kwik-Marker, discussed the benefits of accurate marking of underground tunnels.

Meanwhile, investment professional, strategy consultant and qualified futurist Guy Lundy, who is passionate about the business opportunities presented by Africa’s dramatic growth story, addressed delegates at the conference on the topic ‘Africa Rising’.

BME also offered its own technical insights, with BME detonator technology manager Tinus Brits speaking on the characterisation and behaviour of the AXXIS Digital Initiation System when subjected to high electrostatic discharge tests, and BME blasting technology director Tony Rorke addressing the benefits and risks of air decks in blasting.

BME used oil manager Emilia Mascis shared her insights on finding new innovative ways to reuse and recycle waste oil, while BME senior blasting technician Christo van Zyl discussed drilling and charging processes and common mistakes made in the explosives industry.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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