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Stage set for mining explosives centenarian to capture global top-three spot

AECI's 100-year celebration covered by Mining Weekly's Martin Creamer. Video: Darlene Creamer. Picture: Hush Naidoo.

20th March 2024

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor


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JOHANNESBURG ( – The stage is set for proudly South African mining explosives trailblazer, AECI, to become the third biggest in its field globally by 2030, AECI Group chairperson Dr Khotso Mokhele told an enthusiastically applauding audience at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), where the newly strategised company on Wednesday celebrated 100 years of being in business. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video.)

Having pioneered the explosives industry in South Africa in the late 1800s, AECI currently has a 22-country presence on six continents, served by a workforce of more than 7 500 people, whose collective efforts have shaped the veteran into a global powerhouse, Mokhele pronounced while highlighting the course being charted for the company’s next era of innovation.

AECI Mining will remain the cornerstone of the group's growth strategy, with plans to further expand into key regions such as Asia-Pacific, South America and North America.

“The future is here for us to conquer,” Mokhele acclaimed while describing the journey over the last century as being one of constant invention and adaptation in the face of challenges and opportunities.

This led, he said, to the company continually pushing the boundaries of possibility while navigating economic shifts, technological advances as well as evolving social and political landscapes.

On the financial front, AECI has set a high near-term earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) target.

“We’ll double Ebitda by 2026,” a confident AECI Group CEO Holger Riemensperger highlighted.

AECI celebrated by returning to the JSE where it was listed in 1966, with the ticker symbol AFE unchanged since then.

In the context of the listing reaching its 60th year in 2026, Riemensperger pledged: “My promise is that we will come back and we will deliver what we have promised.”

Interestingly, AECI's first registered address was the National Union of Mineworkers building in Johannesburg city centre.

“When I came to the country, I said AECI is not just a company, it’s a South African institution. Its roots have already spread around the world, and we want to spread them even further,” Riemensperger enthused.

Although official registration took place 100 years ago, AECI’s legacy goes back 128 years, throughout which time it has been South Africa’s number one and Africa’s number one in explosives and chemicals.

“We’re now standing in front of the next 100 years and we carry this legacy that brings with it a responsibility to the next generations,” Riemensperger philosophised.


Speaking of AECI’s strategic roadmap setting the stage for the company to become a global top-three player by 2030, Mokhele reiterated the company’s recent decision to divest from noncore assets.

This was being done, Mokhele added, to ensure that the company remained agile and focused on its core objectives.

“By leveraging our core strengths and existing capabilities, we are well positioned to unlock new opportunities and drive value for our shareholders and stakeholders.

“Throughout our journey, invention has been the cornerstone of our success. From revolutionary explosives formulations to environment-friendly chemical processes, we have consistently pushed the boundaries of technological advancement, setting new industry standards and revolutionising the mining sector.

“Our commitment to innovation goes beyond just mere business objectives. It is rooted in our deep-seated commitment to safety and sustainability. By providing new solutions and comprehensive safety protocols, we have not only safeguarded the well-being of miners, but also contributed to the sustainable development of the mining industry, enhancing South Africa’s reputation as a global mining hub,” said Mokhele.

Poet Lebogang Mashile summed up AECI as being “as strong as the spine of South Africa” and an entity that "walks in tandem with South Africa’s dreams".


AECI was registered as African Explosives and Industries (AE&I) on 21 March 1924, the company having come about by way of a merger between the South African interests of Nobel Industries (UK) and the manufacturing arm of De Beers Consolidated, the diamond mining giant in the Anglo American fold.

AE&I’s primary purpose was to provide commercial explosives and detonators to South Africa’s gold and diamond mines. Modderfontein (established in 1896), Somerset West (established in 1903) and Umbogintwini (established in 1908) were its three sites.

In 1944, a name change to African Explosives & Chemicals Industries Limited (AE&CI) took place. A further name change occurred in 1972 to AE&CI and then in 1976, the final name change to the current AECI was effected.

The strategy is premised on ensuring that the combined group is structured in a manner that enables it to unlock value in the near term; delivering operational and executional excellence through focusing on AECI’s core businesses and existing strengths while ensuring a disciplined approach to capital allocation and execution.

The belief is that, in this way, the company is positioned for strong future growth.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter




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