South African explosives manufacturer and distributor AEL Mining Services has increased its presence in South America, owing to the nature and resilience of the South American mining industry.
AEL GM for business development in South America and West Central Africa Alois Kwenda notes that, although South America is a relatively new market for AEL and its parent company explosives and specialty chemicals manufacturer AECI (compared with Africa, where the company was first established more than a century ago, and the Asia-Pacific region, where the company has been established for a decade) it is important, specifically because of the continent’s stability. Further, South America’s status as a major mining destination and its potential for new mining projects, despite the current environment of depressed commodities prices, make it even more attractive.
He cites the Brazilian mining industry, which has remained competitive, despite the fall in commodities prices and the slowing global economy. Other South American mining industries have displayed similar resilience, which, in conjunction with the vast mineral deposits throughout the continent, is indicative of significant business opportunity, he adds.
Kwenda says growing AEL’s previously established base in South America through direct interaction with customers is integral to the company’s global expansion strategy. Such interaction has been characterised by increased attendance at South American mining exhibitions and events, as well as several meetings with potential clients.
AEL has previously supplied customers on the continent using distributors and other agents, but decided last year to offer its full suite of products and technical expertise directly to ensure high-quality supply and the more efficient application of explosives on site, he explains.
AEL aims to increase its supply of electronic blasting systems and bulk explosives to South American markets, particularly those of Brazil and Chile, where safety is the main issue for customers. Kwenda adds that the company will also expand its on-site technical support to maintain the highest safety standards and optimise mining operations for its customers.
“Mining operations are looking for suppliers that not only deliver products but that can also come up with solutions that increase their operational efficiency, which we can achieve using our suite of explosives, blast initiating systems and technical support through blast optimisation teams.”
Kwenda comments that the company’s expansion in South America has exceeded expectations, with it having participated in several tenders and conducted demonstrations of electronic blasting systems for potential customers.
To date, AEL has performed two blasting demonstrations for copper mining clients in Chile and expects to conduct two more next month. Kwenda notes that the demonstrations, which focus specifically on electronic blasting systems, have been successful, as they have led to renewed interest from stakeholders in Chile and secured new clients.
AEL has consolidated its offices under the AECI brand in South America; therefore, the company’s sales and distribution offices in Brazil and Chile trade under the AECI name. AECI Mining Solutions brings together the group’s expertise in the supply of products and services for customers in the mining sector.
Kwenda and his team recently exhibited as part of AECI Mining Solutions at the Expomin 2016 event, held in Santiago, Chile, from April 25 to 29. The event, which takes place biannually, is a mining exhibition and conference for Latin America, which is attended by about 80 000 visitors and includes exhibitions from 1 700 companies.
Kwenda notes that even though attendance decreased this year, owing to global economic conditions, the quality of customer interaction was still significant, with many clients and potential clients visiting the stands and requesting meetings.
AEL under the AECI Mining Solutions banner, also exhibited at Exposibram International Mining Exhibition 2015 from September 14 to 17. The yearly event was held in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and attracted more than 50 000 visitors.
According to Kwenda, the company intends to establish manufacturing operations in either Chile or Brazil within the next five years.