Tag Archives: Explosives

BME to become ‘first local manufacturer’ of electronic detonators in Western Australia

Having actively built its foundation in the Australian mining market over the past decade, global blasting and explosives specialist BME says it 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. Australia is among the high-potential markets in which BME is further expanding its existing operations, he said, 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 explained. “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.”

The licensing processes have been completed for a site that BME Australia has secured in the Kalgoorlie area of Western Australia, 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 the state, providing significant supply chain security and logistical benefits to mining customers, it says. The plan is to begin production by May 2024.

“Manufacturing in-country removes considerable supply chain risk for the industry, which the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted for every sector,” Hennecke said.

A similar facility has already been established in Canada as part of BME’s globalisation drive. The Western Australia 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.

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 Western Australia, trials have been conducted with AXXIS electronic detonators at various mines in the state, 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’.

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

He 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.

Boliden to implement Hypex Bio climate-friendly explosives at Kankberg mine

Boliden says it has become the first mining operator to sign an agreement for the production and delivery of a newly developed explosive from Hypex Bio with significantly improved environmental and climate performance.

In the process, the company’s need for nitrogen treatment of water is being reduced and its climate performance is improving by around 400 t of CO2 per year, it says.

Peter Bergman, General Manager of the Boliden Area, said: “For us, it is important to be part of technology development in many areas and, when it is successful, we also want to be early with implementation. Together with the electrification of transport and other machines, this means another important step towards being able to conduct mining operations that are, in principle, fossil-free.”

The agreement with the Swedish explosives supplier Hypex Bio is for the production and delivery of nitrate-free and environmentally friendly explosives to Kankbergsgruvan, Boliden. Boliden and Hypex will cooperate on the production and delivery of nitrate-free and environmentally friendly explosives to the Kankberg mine, which includes the establishment of a production facility at the mine as well as a delivery and service agreement.

The supply and service agreement for Hypex’s explosives solution spans five years, starting in 2024. The production quantity is expected to amount to 400-450 t and, thus, largely meet the Kankberg mine’s annual needs. In addition to the fact that the explosive drastically reduces the need for nitrogen treatment of water, the climate impact is reduced by approximately 400 t of CO2 per year (Scope 3), Boliden added.

The collaboration between Hypex Bio and Boliden has been ongoing since 2020, where the nitrate-free explosive has been developed and tested in the Kankberg mine. The technology has proven to meet Boliden’s requirements for safety, performance, environment and reduced carbon dioxide emissions. Tests have also been carried out in the Garpenberg mine and are to be started in the Aitik copper mine, the company says.

Back in October, Omnia Holdings announced a strategic partnership with Hypex Bio and the acquisition of a minority equity stake in the company.

BME reflects on explosives market developments following ISEE conference attendance

Following its attendance at the recent International Society of Explosives Engineers event in the USA city of Savannah, Georgia, last month, Neil Alberts, Head of Business Development at BME Mining Canada, has highlighted the high level of creative innovation in blasting on show.

“The industry has definitely made the most of addressing the challenges presented by the pandemic – really raising its game in terms of technology solutions,” Alberts said. “These advances are important in strengthening the mining supply chain globally, while continuing to promote productivity, efficiency and sustainability.

“While many of the market’s offerings had been introduced at previous ISEE conferences, there was more confidence in their capabilities this year and a better likelihood of uptake. Some smaller vendors – from as far afield as South Africa, Australia, Indonesia and European countries – also presented more open platforms, making these easier to integrate with other solutions.”

According to Christiaan Liebenberg, BME’s Product Manager Software, this year’s event was also a chance for BME to demonstrate their digital tools that enhance its ability to integrate with its digital product suite.

“This included our BlastMap blast design software and our Xplolog data capturing system, as well as our advances in digitising our emulsion trucks,” he said. “It was an important opportunity to show our integration capabilities and our offerings throughout the blast preparation value chain.”

He noted that there had been enthusiastic adoption of BlastMap in the last couple of years, as the market had grown more familiar with its ease of use, integration capability and powerful features. There has also been a significant shift towards strategic collaboration within the digital space, as many players realise the value of sharing aspects of their expertise in the interests of better customer products and solutions.

“In addition to sharing our insights, the ISEE continues to be an important forum for BME to learn more about leading edge developments and to identify potential partners in our technology journey,” he said.

Alberts highlighted that BME has developed specific requirements based on its customer mapping, and seeks out strategic alliances with partners to fulfil the technological opportunities it had identified for success.

BME’s Global Manager Blasting Science, D Scott Scovira, presented a paper on “Breaking the Nitrate Based Explosives Greenhouse – The Dawn of Production Scale Hydrogen Peroxide Emulsion (HPE) for Industrial Blasting” in the ISEE technical sessions. Scovira noted that this year’s technical presentations included more papers by primary researchers and consultants – giving the event a valuable proportion of fundamental research to augment those papers which were more application or product focused.

“The ISEE is a very focused and concentrated conference of blasting professionals,” he emphasised. “This is why BME management and leadership attends this event, to get closer to the end-user and to stay up to date with their changing needs.”

ISEE delegates visiting BME’s exhibition booth were also able to catch up on the company’s developments in North American markets. Alberts said BME was well advanced in preparing for its service contract with a gold miner in Canada, having commissioned its on-site emulsion plant.

“Our exciting infrastructure development is the BME Centre of Excellence outside the town of Nairn Centre, where we have completed our detonator plants,” he said. “Our AXXIS and Viperdet modular lines are now installed and commissioned, and production is to begin shortly.”

An emulsion plant has been completed on the site, with a second being relocated there from another location in Sudbury. The plans for a hydrogen peroxide emulsion plant are also underway. BME Mining Canada is a joint venture of BME and Canada-based mining and construction contractor Consbec.

“With our staff count now at almost 50, we are leveraging our assets and the industry relationships of our strategic partner in building our networks,” he said. “This year is going to be game changing for us, as we step up our capability in the underground space.”


Dyno Nobel to partner with SCCL on Saudi Arabia technical ammonium nitrate plant

Incitec Pivot Limited’s Dyno Nobel says it will partner with Saudi Chemical Company Limited (SCCL) to investigate the development and operation of a technical ammonium nitrate plant in Saudi Arabia.

Under a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) entered into between the parties last month, Dyno Nobel will provide a range of expertise to assist the development and operation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s first ever Technical Ammonium Nitrate (TAN) Plant.

Dyno Nobel says it brings to the partnership global expertise in developing and operating plants across three continents and world-class project management and manufacturing skills. It will support the project’s Front End Engineering Design and project services for the development of the 300,000 MTPA TAN plant in Ras Al-Khair, Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.

A key part of the MoU is the future establishment of a joint venture with SCCL and the investment company for construction and operation of the plant. The joint venture would supply TAN and nitric acid to Saudi regional mining and industrial users and enable Dyno Nobel to supply TAN to its international mining customer base, Incitec Pivot says.

Dyno Nobel Asia Pacific President, Greg Hayne, said: “We are very pleased to partner on developing this exciting project which provides significant potential for the development of the Middle East’s mining industry.

“Our team’s technical knowledge and TAN expertise is an excellent fit and a key advantage for the project.

“The project also aligns with our long-term strategy to grow our global footprint and further expand our manufacturing operations and sales in the broader Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.”

Incitec Pivot Limited Chief Technology Development Officer, Rob Rounsley, said: “This partnership aligns with our EMEA blasting technology strategy to support surface and underground mining, civil tunnelling, quarrying, and general construction across the Saudi and EMEA mining sectors.”

Dyno Nobel, Fortescue sign tech alliance focused on drill and blast decarbonisation

Incitec Pivot Limited’s Dyno Nobel is to extend its supply relationship with Fortescue, with the two parties agreeing to a long-term extension that will see Dyno Nobel continue providing explosives technology and collaborating on key decarbonisation projects to assist Fortescue in reaching its ‘Real Zero’ goal.

A key focus of the new agreement is an innovative technology alliance. As part of this, Dyno Nobel will invest A$5 million ($3.2 million) in new technologies to support Fortescue’s decarbonisation efforts within its drill and blast process. The new agreement will apply across Fortescue’s Pilbara operations: Cloudbreak, Christmas Creek, Solomon and Eliwana. The Iron Bridge project, which Fortescue has a majority stake in, is supplied by Dyno Nobel under a separate contract the two companies announced last year.

Dyno Nobel Asia Pacific President, Greg Hayne, said: “We’re incredibly proud of our relationship with Fortescue who are at the forefront of efforts to decarbonise the mining industry. The agreement will see us ramp up our decarbonisation efforts which will include conversion of our MPU (mobile processing unit) fleet to renewable energy sources and investigating the use of lower carbon footprint, bio-fuel based explosives.

“This is about providing our customers with technology solutions that lower our carbon footprint and, in turn, theirs.”

Fortescue Metals CEO, Dino Otranto, said: “We’re looking forward to continuing our successful partnership with Dyno Nobel, which will deliver blasting services as well as provide new technologies to help us achieve our industry leading target of Real Zero emissions across our Australian iron ore operations.”

The agreement will provide Fortescue with the opportunity to benefit from Dyno Nobel’s commercialisation of a reduced GHG emissions DIFFERENTIAL ENERGY® solution, an explosives method that tailors the energy delivered to different rock layers within a blast hole and across a blast. The efficiencies generated through the use of DIFFERENTIAL ENERGY reduce both overall mining costs and emission volumes for customers, according to Dyno Nobel, with the reduced emissions solution able to reduce Scope 1 emissions by up to 25% in normal blasting circumstances.

Hayne said that since Dyno Nobel’s DIFFERENTIAL ENERGY technology was introduced to the Australian market in 2018 it has provided customers with production and environmental benefits.

“Fortescue has already seen the technology deliver value at their Iron Bridge operations, one of the first sites in Australia to fully benefit from DIFFERENTIAL ENERGY and the results have been very positive. We are now pleased to be increasing these advantages via a reduced emissions offering. It is just another example of our technology innovation happening on the ground.”

He said Dyno Nobel’s technology development aligned with Fortescue’s vision.

“We are looking forward to continuing our successful partnership with Fortescue which has evolved into finding innovative and sustainable solutions for the future by working together,” he said.

Aquirian set to expand drill and blast portfolio with Hanwha ammonium nitrate emulsion plant

Specialist mining services provider Aquirian Limited, via its wholly owned subsidiaries, has entered into a binding agreement to acquire the assets and land comprising the Wubin ammonium nitrate emulsion plant from Hanwha, with the company also setting out plans to offer Hanwha’s patented X-Load™ range of products in Western Australia.

The facility was built and commissioned in 2020 and is production-ready, with licensing to produce 110,000 t/y of ammonium nitrate emulsion. It was put into care and maintenance in 2021 as part of Hanwha’s strategic decision to exit the bulk explosives market in Australia, with Hanwha selling its other emulsion production assets in Queensland and New South Wales to Orica earlier this year.

Aquirian will pay A$9.6 million ($6.04 million) for the facility, which is some way below the replacement cost of A$18 million the company previously obtained.

The facility site comprises 142 ha of freehold land in Wubin, with the company having also purchased an adjoining property of 9 ha in September this year. This additional property provides accommodation options for staff, with airstrip access, and is expected to de-risk the investment in the facility by allowing for future growth in capacity and storage.

The Wubin facility is strategically located on the northern freight corridor, removing exposure to major population centres and providing access to up to 1.25 Mt of potential explosive demand across Western Australia, the company estimates. The facility’s location provides direct access to up to 75% of the potential explosives market across the Midwest and Pilbara, it says.

Aquirian Managing Director, David Kelly, comments: “This unique opportunity evolves Aquirian as a diversified mining service company, adding further value across the drill and blast value chain. Our management team has extensive industry knowledge, including with this facility, and I am excited by this acquisition and the potential synergies and opportunities it offers. Our acquisition of a near new strategically located asset below likely replacement cost is anticipated to enable us to fast-track our growth plans and provide clients with a new range of services and products to achieve sustainable outcomes in their operations.”

Kelly was also previously the Managing Director of Hanwha in Australia.

The transfer or securing of required licences in favour of Western Energetics is anticipated to take 3-5 months and is a condition precedent to completion of the sale transaction. Once the sale transaction is completed, it is expected to take between 8-12 weeks to bring the facility back online and into production, the company says.

The facility can produce a variety of nitrate-based emulsions. These emulsions are a class 5.1 dangerous good used as a precursor raw material that is blended with other materials to produce a variety of bulk explosives, which are used in mining operations across Western Australia.

The site is also set up as a logistics and storage hub for ammonium nitrate with a storage capacity of 1,500 t currently, with the objective to be expanded to circa-10,000 t.

Aquirian’s technology portfolio is focused on optimising blast hole quality to ensure better client outcomes. This acquisition will bring the company’s offerings closer to providing drilling technology alongside optimised energetics, to meet its clients’ changing and challenging mine conditions, it says.

The acquisition of the facility is conditional on Hanwha granting the company an exclusive licence to manufacture and supply Hanwha’s patented X-Load range of products in Western Australia and a non-exclusive licence to use and sell other of Hanwha’s products. X-Load is a low-density waterproof energetics solution for the challenging and wet mining conditions in the Pilbara mining region. This region traditionally uses basic ANFO product which is not waterproofed. X-Load provides an energy profile and density that mimics ANFO while being a waterproof solution, according to Acquirian.

Omnia Holdings backs Hypex Bio non-nitrate explosive emulsions solution

Omnia Holdings has announced a strategic partnership with Sweden-based Hypex Bio Explosives Technology and the acquisition of a minority equity stake in the company.

Hypex is at the forefront of innovative and sustainable civil explosives solutions and has developed a ground-breaking emulsion using hydrogen peroxide (HP), offering substantially enhanced environmental benefits compared with conventional products, the company says.

This collaboration marks a significant milestone for both Omnia and Hypex as it will notably enhance the ongoing development and commercial rollout of Hypex’s HP emulsion technology in key markets. Additionally, it provides Omnia, the parent company of global blasting solutions provider BME, with access to state-of-the-art technology.

Omnia, in conjunction with BME, has established a reputation for its dedication to innovation and market-driven product solutions. Extending its services across Africa, Australasia, North America and Brazil, BME offers cutting-edge products and services at every stage in the mining explosives and blasting solutions supply chain, using technology to maximise safety and minimise environmental impact.

Seelan Gobalsamy, CEO of Omnia, said: “Hypex is a good strategic fit for BME and aligns with Omnia’s sustainability and high-growth objectives, including pollution and CO2 reduction. Hypex has developed the first non-nitrate explosive emulsions in the market and reduced the carbon content by 90% over traditional sources. This technology has the potential to completely change the explosives supply industry.”

Ralf Hennecke, Managing Director of BME, said: “As one of the largest explosives and blasting solutions suppliers on the African continent, BME is pursuing a globalisation strategy which is optimally aligned to the sustainable, nitrate-free emulsion technology offered by Hypex.”

Hypex’s experience in rapid yet safe development cycles, combined with the company’s proven track record in commercialisation activities, will use the proceeds from this transaction to further strengthen the organisation and invest in accelerated growth.

Thomas Gustavsson, CEO of Hypex, said: “We are thrilled to announce the partnership with Omnia, and I am very happy to have not only an ideal investor on board but also a company whose culture is well aligned with ours. I foresee significant synergies and accelerated accomplishments as a direct result. The team and I are grateful for the hard work done by both sides to accomplish this deal.”

This partnership agreement aligns seamlessly with Omnia’s capital allocation framework of adding new revenue streams in future high-growth international markets while maintaining a diversified and cash-generative business, improving the group’s competitive advantage and resilience given anticipated market changes, and aligning with its sustainability journey, it says.

Gobalsamy concluded: “As a responsible industry leader, we are committed to sustainable innovation and the responsible use of chemicals for the health, safety and well-being of our planet and its people. Our partnership with Hypex strengthens our ability to develop and distribute eco-friendly products and technologies and is testament to our purpose of creating a greener and safer future for all.”

BME upgrades VIPERDET MS Series non-electric detonator range

BME, an Omnia Group company, has introduced an improved version of its non-electric detonator product range, the VIPERDET™ MS Series, into the quarrying and small-scale open-pit mining sector.

The VIPERDET MS Series boasts quality and reliability leveraged from automated production lines and a certified supply chain, it says.

“We have over the years invested considerably in our production technology, giving us automated processes that enhance safety, sustainability and efficiency to reliably deliver a world-class product,” Nishen Hariparsad, General Manager (Technology and Innovation) at BME, says. “Our systems harness robotics and artificial intelligence to ensure that we meet and exceed customer expectations with our non-electric detonators.”

Hariparsad highlighted that this high level of automation was a significant differentiator for the company, as most competitors relied on manual production lines. The result was that Omnia’s mining division was able to achieve consistency in detonator quality, enhanced production flexibility, less waste and reduced environmental impact. The company’s production facilities at Losberg and Dryden were also powered by renewable energy to prioritise sustainability and operational continuity.

“BME always strives to be at the forefront of technology and brings innovative and cutting-edge mining solutions that deliver best blasting and fragmentation outcomes,” Hariparsad said. “This has underpinned the launch of the VIPERDET MS Series – which includes downhole, trunkline and dual detonators. With its timing accuracy, flexibility and user-friendly design, we believe this range will offer great customer experience and deliver optimal blasting results.”

Dr Rakhi Pathak, BME’s Global Product Manager, noted that the design included a triple-layered shock tube designed to provide high tensile strength and prevent any damage during normal operating conditions.

“Made with high-strength material that is temperature resistant, the connectors are easy to use and quick to apply,” Dr Pathak said. “The connectors are also colour coded for ease of identification.”

She added that safety remains the utmost priority and so quality and manufacturing processes ensure that the product meets the highest industry safety standard.

Hariparsad explained that Omnia mining segment’s certified supply chain was crucial to achieving the standards for which it is known in the mining sector, including the quarrying sector where the VIPERDET MS Series is expected to find an important market.

“We have selected high quality raw materials and the latest manufacturing processes to guarantee exceptional quality in our VIPERDET MS Series detonators,” he said. “Each component goes through a series of rigorous tests to ensure it meets stringent industry standards.”

He noted that in-house manufacturing allows the company to closely manage its product quality, delivering reliability with high accuracy of delay timing.

Orica releases ‘world first’ lead-free non-electric detonator range

Orica says it is taking another step towards its purpose to sustainably mobilise the earth’s resources by announcing the commercial release of what it claims is the world’s first lead-free non-electric detonator range, Exel™ Neo.

Orica, the sole manufacturer of non-electric detonators in the Nordics, has upgraded its premium Exel product range to a safer and more sustainable product by removing lead while maintaining the same consistent and reliable product performance, it says.

Neo is Orica’s new brand for environmentally friendly, sustainable initiation systems products. The Neo range of Exel non-electric detonators is produced using a lead-free formulation in Gyttorp, Sweden, with no lead or lead compounds used in the manufacturing process of the pyrotechnic delay compositions.

In the industry, the Exel non-electric blasting technology range encompasses safety, innovation and excellence and is built based on the Non Primary Explosives Detonator (NPED) technology, successfully used by Orica for the last 30 years. The same as the original Exel range, the newly launched Exel Neo range is designed for use in civil infrastructure as well as surface and underground mining operations.

Orica Chief Technology Officer, Angus Melbourne, said: “Orica’s strategy is to deliver solutions and technology that drive productivity for our customers across the globe. With nearly 150 years of innovation and expertise, we continue to solve the industry’s challenges and are proud to offer a lead-free solution today, while maintaining the same trusted performance, storage and handling benefits. With our Neo range, we are offering a product that is free of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC).”

Before being placed on the market in Europe, the Neo product range was successfully assessed and approved by the Explosive Notified Body as part of CE-marking certification in the European Union. The new fully lead-free products do not contain any SVHC according to the European Union’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation, Orica says.

Among some of the key benefits, the new product range is manufactured close to Orica’s customer base in Europe and includes distinct safety and environmental benefits, with lead or lead compounds removed from the production process and thus eliminated from release into environment.

Celebrating this milestone, Orica Group Executive and EMEA President, James Bonnor, added: “Orica is taking decisive steps to enable our industry’s transition towards a more sustainable future. We have invested in the state-of-the-art equipment in Sweden, including assembly machines and control systems, to ensure high quality of our products. The Exel Neo range is based on our NPED technology that’s been in the European market for 30 years.

“With the Neo addition, we have successfully developed, independently tested and trialled a lead-free alternative that can burn with the same accuracy as our current lead-based delay compositions. Importantly for our customers, independent external tests on timing accuracy and scatter patterns confirm that this new technology performs with the same reliability.

“The full Exel Neo range of non-electric detonators is available for order in Europe today.”

AECI Mining expands Latin America explosives reach with Dinaser acquisition

AECI Mining says it has concluded the ZAR45 million ($2.4 million) acquisition of Dinaser Industria, an explosives business in Brazil.

The acquisition, executed through local entity AECI Mining Produtos Quimicos Ltda, includes 100% ownership of Dinaser’s explosives distribution and storage facilities as well as operating licences in the mining states of Minas Gerais and Bahia.

Holger Riemensperger, AECI Group Chief Executive, said: “This acquisition is in line with AECI’s strategy to continue expanding its already extensive footprint in the global mining sector. It builds on our existing reach in Brazil where we already own and operate a bulk emulsion and packaged explosives manufacturing plant, in the state of São Paulo, and have also seen good growth in the South American metallurgical extraction chemicals market.”

Mark Kathan, AECI Mining CEO, added: “Dinaser currently serves mainly the Brazilian construction and civil blasting industry. With our world-class products and know-how in both underground and surface mining, as well as our longstanding relationships with global customers, the opportunities to grow the business are significant.”