Brisbane-based Advanced Initiating Systems joins South Africa’s BME

Brisbane-based Advanced Initiating Systems Pty Ltd (AIS) has now become wholly owned by leading South African explosive company BME, a subsidiary of the Johannesburg Securities Exchange-listed Omnia Group. According to Brad Bulow, AIS director and BME’s General Manager Australia Asia, AIS will become known as BME Australia in a rebranding process that will begin in the second quarter of 2018. BME has been the majority shareholder in AIS since it helped form the company in Australia five years ago.

“As the leading explosives company in Africa’s opencast mining sector, BME will continue to foster the quality reputation that AIS has developed in the Australian market,” said Bulow. “As AIS, we have become well-known as the distributor of BME’s pioneering AXXIS™ digital detonation system, as well as for the close relationships we’ve formed with clients through our proactive support, professional approach and strong service ethic.”

Bulow, a qualified mining engineer with 25 years of experience in the resources sector, said AIS had also proved its technical capability with a record blast at a large central Queensland coal mine.

“The AXXIS™ system was used at the mine to initiate the largest electronic detonator blast ever at that time– firing 5,665 detonators in 2,683 blastholes,” he said. “This blast also broke a previous record AIS achieved at the mine when an AXXIS™-controlled blast successfully initiated 4,303 detonators in a single blast to break 2,8 million cubic metres of overburden.” The world’s largest electronic detonator blast record is now held by BME in Zambia.

Bulow said BME’s acquisition of the remaining shares in AIS was a provision of the initial agreement, and signals BME’s intention to expand its supply of technical services and products in Australia. The company would be looking for opportunities to offer its range of other services, equipment and emulsions as the market required.

“With over three decades of growth in the explosives business, BME has innovated a broad range of solutions that are being applied across Africa and in a growing number of markets globally,” he said. “Our position as part of the Omnia Group – which has facilitated our considerable manufacturing capacity – places us well to meet customer demands in Australia.”

BME has steadily expanded its emulsion production facilities, and automated its manufacture of initiating systems in Africa. Alongside its AXXIS™ detonation system, it has also developed the BlastMap™ blast planning and design software, as well as mobile applications to promote quality blasting. It has pioneered the use of emulsion explosives in underground operations through the implementation of the deepest ever vertical emulsion pipeline, supported by its specialised transport and application equipment.

Formed in 1984 in South Africa, BME built its initial success on a new cold emulsion technology that has since become an industry standard; the highly stable product has been diversified for a range of specific applications including reactive ground. It also makes a substantial environmental contribution by incorporating large volumes of used oil in its standard bulk emulsion; as a technology leader in this practice, BME consumes approximately 20% of the total available used oil in South Africa.