BME hails maturing tech solutions at global explosives event

Companies in the blasting and explosives sector had opportunistically used the years of the Covid-19 pandemic to modernise and fine-tune their blasting technologies – a space where Omnia group company BME has been constructively investing for decades.

Neil Alberts, BME Mining Canada’s Head of Business Development
© BME

Neil Alberts, BME Mining Canada’s Head of Business Development
© BME
Speaking after the recent International Society of Explosives Engineers in the USA city of Savannah, Georgia, last month, Neil Alberts, Head of Business Development at BME Mining Canada noted that a high level of creative innovation in blasting was showcased when practitioners gathered at the event. “The industry has definitely made the most of addressing the challenges presented by the pandemic – really raising its game in terms of technology solutions,” said Alberts. “These advances are important in strengthening the mining supply chain globally, while continuing to promote productivity, efficiency and sustainability.”

BME was a sponsor, exhibitor and speaker at this year’s well-attended industry event. “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,” Alberts explained. “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.”

 

Digital tools

Christiaan Liebenberg, BME's Product Manager Software
© BME

Christiaan Liebenberg, BME's Product Manager Software
© BME
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 their ability to integrate with their 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,” said Liebenberg. “It was an important opportunity to show our integration capabilities and our offerings throughout the blast preparation value chain.”

 

Strategic collaboration

Liebenberg 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.

 

Transformative technology

D. Scott Scovira, BME’s Global Manager Blasting Science
© BME

D. Scott Scovira, BME’s Global Manager Blasting Science
© BME
BME’s Global Manager Blasting Science, D. Scott Scovira, presented a highly anticipated 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 (see sidebar). 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,” D. Scott Scovira 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.”

 

North America growth

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,” D. Scott Scovira said. “This year is going to be game changing for us, as we step up our capability in the underground space.”

  BME showcases its digital tools and technological advancements, reinforcing its position as a leader in the blasting and explosives sector
© BME

BME showcases its digital tools and technological advancements, reinforcing its position as a leader in the blasting and explosives sector
© BME

Standing room only at BME’s hydrogen peroxide technical talk

There was standing room only in the venue when BME’s Global Manager Blasting Science, D Scott Scovira, presented his technical paper on production scale hydrogen peroxide emulsion (HPE) for industrial blasting. Scovira’s paper reportedly attracted the highest attendance of all the technical sessions, with up to 400 delegates filling the venue. He attributed the high level of interest to the fact that this technology has significant disruptive potential in the market, and could impact upon various stakeholders. “There has been demand for an alternative to ammonium nitrate-based explosives for some time,” he said. “This is the first commercialisation of an alternative in a bulk format.”

While hydrogen peroxide explosive generates similar levels of carbon dioxide in post-blast fumes as ammonium nitrate, the new technology does not generate nitrous oxides (NOx), ammonia or nitrate pollution. “As an emerging technology, there are inevitably going to be many uncertainties to resolve,” he said. “However, now that a company of BME’s stature has embraced the concept, this has obviously raised the interest of market participants and end-customers alike.”

BME Mining Canada’s Head of Business Development, Neil Alberts, highlighted the positive sentiment at the ISEE conference around the recent strategic partnership formed between Omnia, BME and Hypex Bio – the pioneer in hydrogen peroxide emulsion. Alberts pointed out that BME had built its 40-years of successful growth on various innovations, some of which had also raised skepticism when first introduced. When the company pioneered the use of cold emulsion technology in South Africa in 1984, for instance, it took time for the market to fully appreciate its value.

bme.co.za 

bmeexplosives.com

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