By: Nelendhre Moodley
Coupled with its rebranding strategy which sees AECI integrate its mining subsidiaries under the umbrella of AECI Mining: Explosives (AEL) and AECI Mining: Chemicals (Senmin), the company is committed to meet its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2020. This will greatly assist both its clientele and the communities in which the business operates, AECI chief executive officer Mark Dytor says.
Speaking to SA Mining on the sidelines of the Investing in African Mining Indaba 2020 event, Dytor explained that under one umbrella, the entity provided a total offering “from the onset of blasting right through to minerals extraction”, and provided a three-way partnership with the customer to ensure a tangible difference in energy maximisation, the environment, health and safety.
The decision to rebrand was based on the realisation that AECI’s subsidiaries were “operating in independently and separate entities, with clients often unaware of the benefits each business offers”.
“We are reinventing ourselves by adapting the model, exploiting cost reductions and drive efficiencies by developing new technologies and services. Essentially we will be extending our offering to customers and allow AECI to be a leaner more nimble organisation that is more competitive in today’s market.”
Furthermore AECI’s integrated mining pillar extends to include water and agricultural offerings and allows the explosives manufacturer the opportunity to enter into the water treatment space, including treating mine water.
“As a listed entity, maintaining and meeting sustainability goals remain key. We are setting our own internal goals and in fact will soon be releasing an integrated report on sustainability,” says Dytor.
He adds that where most companies have requested an extension to the date for meeting their SDGs AECI Mining remains on track and has efforts in place, including modification of its factory in Modderfontein, to meet the air emissions requirements.
In his opening address at the Mining Indaba, Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantanshe said mining companies would be able to generate their own power without the need for licences from government.
Dytor was upbeat about the news, stating: “This is great news for industry. If you look at the data from the manufacturing sector, South Africa has not been able to replicate the manufacturing volumes from 12 years ago. This will go a long way in assisting the manufacturing and mining sectors to be self-sufficient and allow them to place excess power into the grid. The move will certainly have a positive impact on the country and the economy,” he explained.
AECI is currently exploring options related to solar, wind and steam power.
“We have vast tracts of land around our Modderfontein factory and our facility in Umbogintwini-Amanzimtoti, and will look to adopt suitable energy options,” said Dytor. He also noted that there were various opportunities to convert steam, which was generated during its manufacturing processes, into energy.
According to Edwin Ludick, MD of AECI Mining: Explosives and chairman of AECI Mining, the JSE-listed entity has tasked its water division to drive a water-efficiency programme at its Modderfontein facility to ensure that the facility consumes as little municipal water as possible.
“Once we can demonstrate that we have been successful in minimal water use we can use this as a value proposition to promote our water-reducing capabilities to the rest of the market.”
In fact, AECI is engaging with government in order to identify water-related initiatives that can be implemented throughout the country; especially to water-scarce mining communities.
“In terms of sustainability, AECI is able to assist clients to improve the quality of the water at its mining operations and ensure that the correct quality of water is diverted to communities in the areas where the mines are located. Furthermore, AECI’s Agri offering could advise both mining houses and communities on how to best maximise crop yields,” said Ludick.
Growing beyond South Africa
AECI’s five-year strategy looks to expand its market beyond the South African borders, into the South American and US markets.
“Aside from recently acquiring an explosive manufacturing facility in Brazil and exploring land for a plant in Chile, AECI had a presence at the International Society of Explosive Engineers (ISEE) for our mining explosives business. The strategy was to use this as a preamble to entering the US market,” said Ludick. “We are excited about the positive response and look forward to exploring opportunities in this market.” A significant portion of AECI’s mining revenue of “just over 60%” comes from outside of South Africa. By 2025 the company is targeting 80% of revenue from beyond South African borders.