Mining Indaba highlights increasing investment in African mining

25th January 2013

By: Sashnee Moodley

Senior Deputy Editor Polity and Multimedia


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The favourable mining investment opportunities in Africa resulted in last year’s Investing in African Mining Indaba hosting a record-breaking number of individuals and companies from various countries, says local explosives provider BME marketing manager Hayley Wayland.

As a result, BME believes this year’s event will enable the company to further increase its brand awareness and showcase its products and services.

Last year, 7 000 individuals representing 1 500 international companies from 100 countries and about 45 African and non-African government delegations attended the Indaba.

BME, therefore, hopes to increase its exposure to established companies and greenfield operations through the Indaba, which runs from February 4 to 7 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

BME will exhibit for the fourth consecutive year to showcase products, services and new blasting technology systems, such as the company’s electronic detonator offering, AXXIS, which is a fully pro- grammable, accurate and easy-to-use digital initiation system, says Wayland, who adds that the company’s senior management team will attend discussions and be avail- able at the BME stand to interact with clients and answer any questions that visitors may have.

“This event is one of the biggest networking opportunities, as it gives attendees access to CEOs and decision-makers in the industry in a relaxed environment where they have free time to walk around and chat with other players in the industry,” she explains, noting that partnerships between industry stakeholders are important to secure a successful mining future in Africa and the Indaba facilitates the beginning of these partnerships.

Further, she says the Indaba also helps to provide a sense of future trends – locally and worldwide – in the industry.

BME believes there is still major growth to take place in the African mining industry and that the Indaba highlights this future growth and showcases existing investment opportunities, says Wayland.

“While rising commodity prices and the continuation of expansion projects have been key drivers of growth for the African mining industry, the existence of undeveloped mineral reserves in Africa and the long- term demand from emerging economies, such as China, India, Brazil and Russia, are expected to remain key drivers of this growth.”

Wayland highlights the apt location of the Indaba, as South Africa is the investment catalyst for the rest of the continent and that, owing to its South African roots, BME regards itself as a springboard into other African countries.

Operational Challenges
Success in the mining industry in Africa depends on global commodity demand and prices and on how mining companies handle challenges on the continent, such as logistical challenges, owing to the lack of infrastructure in remote areas, and skills shortages.

While solutions to these challenges are complex, Wayland says BME has spent considerable capital in ensuring supply chain security, which allows companies to mitigate the risk of not having products instantly available and the costs associated with this dilemma.

In March 2012, BME’s parent company, Omnia, launched its new nitric acid complex, in Sasolburg, which has allowed the company to take advantage of the increas- ing demand for explosives and fertiliser in Africa.

While the project is a group initiative, BME is a major beneficiary, as it has expanded into the rest of Africa, where the company has grown substantially over the years, with 11 modular bulk emulsion plants in operation.

Wayland adds that BME is able to set up on site anywhere in Africa at short notice and rapidly ramp up service levels to ensure the flow of products along required and complex logistical supply chains.

“We are seeing substantial growth throughout West Africa and in Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zimbabwe, while Namibia is also growing steadily. BME’s key growth markets are Botswana, with diamond exploration; copper projects in Zambia and the DRC; and coal expansion in Botswana, Mozambique and West Africa,” says BME international business manager Charles Hurly.
He points out that, with a diversified client base on the commodity side, BME is a significant supplier of products to copper, coal and uranium miners. The company is also involved in the gold and precious metals industry and it is this diversification that provides a secure avenue for growth either in energy or commodities.
“It is not just about supplying a service or selling a product. When it comes to legis- lative frameworks in Africa, BME abides by South African standards as a minimum wherever it operates, but will follow whichever standard is the most stringent. In West Africa, for example, BME has assisted countries in developing their own legislation around explosives.
“BME advocates a safe and secure environment for explosives and embraces the directives from local legislators. It enforces these rules to ensure they are being followed across the board,” says Hurly.
He adds that BME has a strong commitment to the development of local skills and training local employees on the mine sites. This increases skills transfer and provides local employees with opportunities for growth.

“People in the mining area benefit from the employment opportunities, the skills transfer and meaningful corporate social responsibility programmes. BME also has a formidable reserve of technical expertise, which assists personnel and mines in creating efficient operations. Continued training through structured mentoring, lectures and seminars add to the depth of the company’s contribution to the future sustainability of operations and customer value,” adds Wayland.

Hurly highlights that a country’s impression of external companies is often that they take minerals out of the country without giving back to the communities.

“Therefore, BME’s historical corporate social responsibility initiatives have been meaningful for the company and include building a school orphanage, hosting a feeding scheme, renovating a lecture room at a local university, which included installing 40 computers, and providing technical services to interested members of the mining sector in the form of presentations and lectures.
“We will continue to increase our foot- print throughout Africa by continuing to do what we do best. We work so closely with our clients that we are more of a partner than a supplier.

“BME is an African company and understands the African culture and operating environment, which makes us a preferred partner by many in the region and for investors,” he concludes.

Edited by Tracy Hancock
Creamer Media Contributing Editor


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