BME Mining Canada explosives & blasting technology JV gathers momentum
Just eighteen months since its launch, BME Mining Canada Inc has installed a dual salt emulsion explosive plant and is soon to construct a detonator assembly facility – spurring on its roll-out into the Canadian market. A joint venture between South Africa-based BME – part of the JSE-listed Omnia Group – and Canadian contractor Consbec Inc, BME Mining Canada Inc says it has been growing its local customer base and steadily expanding its product and service offering. According to its Vice-President Richard Walker, who is also Vice-President of Consbec Inc. -the new plant gives customers access to a dual salt and single salt product, either gassed or micro-balloon sensitised.
“We also have the ability to customise our emulsion product in this plant, to suit a range of customer needs and preferences,” said Walker. This customisation capability is built on decades of field experience, research and development conducted since BME first introduced cold emulsion technology to Africa in 1984. It is expected that the detonator manufacturing facility will deliver its products by the end of the northern hemisphere summer, and these will include non-electric detonators and the electronic AXXIS™ detonators. There will also be an ANFO bagging facility in place by the end of 2021, for those customers who require this packaged product.
Joe Keenan, President of BME Mining Canada Inc. and Managing Director of BME, highlighted the strategic location of the company’s detonator plant and other planned facilities at Nairn Centre – directly on the trans-Canada highway and well served by major rail infrastructure. “We are geographically right in the heart of Canada’s underground mining sector,” said Keenan, “allowing us to readily service customers quickly and efficiently.”
Walker said the business was rooted in the expertise of personnel with decades of experience in the explosives business in Northern Ontario, including Brad Rhude and Darryl Williamson in Sudbury, and Josh Lachapelle in Timmins. The team will be supported by South African Neil Alberts, the International Underground Business Manager for BME; based in Sudbury, he will arrive in April and work closely with local expert Troy Raymond. Alberts joined BME in 2002 and has been extensively involved in the mining sector, applying explosives-related products and technology. He is also a member of the Association of Mine Managers of South Africa.
According to Walker, the local industry has been excited to see the technology and expertise being introduced by BME Mining Canada Inc. The company’s operations would also include ongoing research and development to further enhance its offerings for local applications.
“It is clear to us that the market appreciates the valuable contribution being made to the wealth of knowledge in local mining operations,” he said. “We have made significant progress to date, supplying explosives and electronics to major players for the past year.” He added that the company’s first underground loading equipment – an uphole unit and a lateral unit – will soon be at work in the Sudbury operations of a major global miner. These machines will be supplied by BME from its Africa base, but he foresees that the future will see local know-how leveraged for local production in Sudbury.
He noted that there was considerable opportunity in this market for BME’s gassed emulsion and dual salt technology. Transportation of unsensitised emulsions can enhance safety as they are only sensitized in the blasthole. This makes storage simpler and more cost-effective, as the product is not subject to all the same licensing and permissions as traditional explosives.
BME’s Global Product Manager – Dr Rakhi Pathak, noted that “Transporting a base emulsion is much safer and more cost-effective, the long shelf-life of BME dual salt emulsions is a further advantage.” BME Mining Canada Inc will offer customers integrated systems including bulk emulsions technology, underground loading units and D&B Services.
In addition to BME Mining Canada’s Inc’s current focus on underground mining in Northern Ontario, it draws on the capability of both joint venture partners to target blasting and related work in large open pits across the country. For instance, as one of Canada’s largest mining and construction contractors, Consbec has a network of approved bulk explosive manufacturing facilities located from British Colombia to Nova Scotia – and as far north as Labrador.
“These bulk facilities provide leading-edge emulsion technologies to surface and underground customers, delivered by our fleet of 25 mobile processing units or bulk trucks,” said Walker. “With a combined staff complement of 250-300 people, the group can provide explosives, blasting services, technical input, rock-on-ground and other services in mining, quarrying, construction and energy sectors.”
He emphasised that BME Mining Canada Inc. was a truly vertically integrated company that can meet the full range of customer needs in explosives, drilling and blasting.