Mining explosives and blasting technology supplier BME, a member of diversified chemicals group Omnia, expects growth opportunities that will run parallel to the predicted growth of the Zambian mining sector.
Financial news company Bloomberg reported last month that, despite copper production nearing record highs last year, output had largely stagnated over the past decade.
Bloomberg further cited that, in 2010, Zambia produced almost double the amount of copper than the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), but that Zambia’s output by last year was almost half of that produced by the DRC, consequently limiting some of the benefits of the record prices.
To capitalise on the potential of its copper reserves, the positive price environment and looming rise of the green economy, Zambia’s mining sector will require increased and adaptive blasting solutions, and BME is already preparing for an uptick in supply, comments BME Southern African Development Community MD Ralf Hennecke.
“Our ability to provide mines with security of supply – even in the face of Covid-19 disruptions to border access and transport – means that we have proven ourselves under the most challenging conditions,” says BME area manager for Zambia, the DRC and Tanzania Wayde de Bruin.
“Strong copper prices are encouraging Zambia’s mines to push production, and we have recently seen an increase in production figures, despite the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” he adds.
This price trend is driven by global industrialisation and electrification, as well as increased automation and digitalisation, with Bloomberg reporting that global copper prices dipped to just below $9 000/t last month.
“Looking ahead, Zambia also has significant reserves of untapped minerals, such as gold, uranium and nickel, which point to potential growth opportunities,” enthuses Hennecke.
Nickel and uranium are key to the transition away from fossil fuel-based energy, while gold retains its safe haven status.
Further, increased geopolitical instability will likely aid gold price performance in the short term.
Meanwhile, the growing focus on battery minerals bodes well for Zambia.
BME’s footprint in Zambia has grown considerably over the past ten years, making its Zambian operation fully independent in terms of technical services. BME’s mobile laboratory in the country enables it to conduct the sampling and testing of soil to identify difficult ground conditions, before blasting, to ensure the optimal emulsion formulation is applied.
BME also uses its Blast Alliance portfolio of digital solutions such as its blast-planning software and AXXIS electronic initiation systems, which combined with 22 years of experience in Zambia, create value-adds for customers.
The company adapts to customers’ specific needs and uses technology to enable sustainable mining, concludes De Bruin.