Explosives supplier BME says it is continually increasing production at its Kansanshi emulsion manufacturing plant, in Zambia, to accommodate rising demand.
The plant is based at mining and metals company First Quantum’s Kansanshi copper mine, in Solwezi, and manufactures emulsion explosives for mining operations in Zambia, with potential capacity for neighbouring countries.
BME marketing manager Charles Hurly tells Mining Weekly that the plant’s maximum design capacity for surface bulk emulsions is currently still adequate to meet increased production requirements.
“At this stage, there are no plans for expansion, as the plant has spare capacity that allows it to meet the demand,” he notes.
The only real challenge the plant faces is in terms of logistics. Its remote location results in significant transportation costs, as the company sources all emulsion manufacturing materials from South Africa.
Hurly explains that formulation testing is not done at the plant – this is done in South Africa and then implemented at the site. It is is an emulsion plant, not an explosives plant. “The emulsion becomes an explosive once the pump trucks have sensitised the product through a process of gassing,” he says.
Omnia Group Mining Review
In its latest mining division review, Omnia group, of which BME forms part, reports it has experienced a recovery in sales volumes of both explosives and chemicals used in the metallurgical extraction process.
This follows the rapid recovery of global commodity and minerals prices, as well as increased mining activity across all sectors.
This recovery has resulted in the division’s sales volumes rising 13% this year, and its turnover increasing by 18% to R2 092-million, up from R1 776-million last year.
Further, the company’s oper- ating profit rose 47%, to R311-million, compared with R212-million last year. Omnia attributes the enhanced margins to a differentiated supply offering and stringent cost control.
The overhead increase over the prior year was largely driven by volume growth; however, the overheads, as a percentage of revenue, decreased.
Omnia states that all indications are that the global upswing will continue into next year and that it is well positioned to take advantage of the recovery.
“The growth in African mining is expected to continue, with increased stripping ratios as mines become deeper,” the company says.
Further, the market’s ongoing switch from traditional capped-fuse and igniter cord to shocktube technology, is expected to change the competitive landscape and provide the mining division with growth opportunities.
Sales of Omnia’s newly developed AXXIS electronic delay detonators are expected to be buoyant, as initial interest has exceeded expectations.
CSI and the Future
As part of its corporate social investment (CSI) initiatives, BME has built a school in the Chingola area, as well as refurbished a lecture room and donated 40 computers to the Copperbelt University. Hurly says the company intends to continue investing heavily in these projects, as well as exploring other similar ventures.
“BME wants to be part of this growth and reap the rewards of adding value to our customers’ operations,” Hurly concludes.