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BME ramps up in Australia


Having actively built its foundation in the Australian mining market over the past decade, global blasting and explosives specialist BME is ramping up its footprint and capability with facilities in the west of the country.

These expansions represent a key aspect of the company’s strategic direction, according to BME managing director Ralf Hennecke.

Hennecke said Australia is among the high-potential markets in which BME is further expanding its existing operations, leveraging the country’s status as the fourth largest mining country globally after China, the US and Russia. Australia also boasts high mineral exploration rates, which bode well for the industry’s future.

“Our first decade in Australia has been focused on importing and marketing our premium AXXIS electronic initiation system,” he said.

“The next exciting steps, however, go well beyond that into local manufacturing of detonators and other products and equipment in our own certified, state of the art automated facilities. We also have our mobile manufacturing units (MMUs) in the country to fully integrate with our other products.”

Ralf Hennecke. Image: BME

Electronic detonator manufacture

The licensing processes have been completed for a site that BME Australia has secured in the Kalgoorlie area of Western Australia (WA), a region strategically positioned to best supply the miners of iron ore, gold, nickel, lithium and other strategic mineral resources. This will allow the company to become the first local manufacturer of electronic detonators in WA, providing significant supply chain security and logistical benefits to mining customers. The plan is to begin production by May 2024.

“Manufacturing in-country removes considerable supply chain risk for the industry, which the Covid19 pandemic highlighted for every sector,” Hennecke said.

A similar facility has already been established in Canada as part of BME’s globalisation drive. The WA plant will be able to draw on equipment that has been tried and tested in the company’s South African operations, include a semi-automated line from BME’s Losberg plant.

Successful trials

BME has built on its strong relationships with global blue chip mining companies in the planning of its new plant, and has reported a high degree of interest from the sector’s leading players. The AXXIS detonator has been well accepted through its multiple upgrades – and has been successfully deployed across eastern Australia for over a decade. With BME’s expansion into WA, trials have been conducted with AXXIS electronic detonators at various mines in WA, and the results were extremely positive.

Emphasising the market demand, Hennecke noted that there has been a significant shift away from shock tubes and towards electronic detonators in Australia’s mining sector – as mines look to safer, automated solutions to reduce the number of ‘boots on the bench’.

Safety, sustainability

“This aligns importantly with the very strict safety policies and regulations that the country has in place,” Hennecke said.

“The technology contributes to industry’s risk mitigation efforts, but also holds performance benefits in terms of facilitating large, accurate and reliable blasts which support mines’ sustainability and productivity.”

Hennecke said that BME’s progress in Australia was an expression of the company’s global ambitions, which are now turning from plans to action in the country through its commitment of capital investments and infrastructure.

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