HomeBase MetalsBlasting and Excavating sets its sights on the rest of Africa

Blasting and Excavating sets its sights on the rest of Africa

Specialist mining, quarrying and civil engineering construction Blasting and Excavating (B&E) is expanding its territory market share across Southern Africa. The company believes it has significant technical expertise to offer the region’s mining, quarrying and construction industry.

THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED IN 
MINING REVIEW AFRICA ISSUE 4, 2021
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B&E has spent the past year polishing its new strategy. Its aim? To grow its market share beyond current client base. The immediate focus is mineral-rich territories in the rest of Africa where B&E’s reputation of excellent services precedes it within the mining, quarrying and civil infrastructure sectors. The company is already enjoying considerable success in South Africa, where it is a household name, as well as in Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana.

Executive Officer and MD, Nathan Williams credits B&E’s successful growth to its unmatched ability to deliver specialist services in remote and difficult areas. “The focus now is on sharing this critical service value with the mining industry across the greater African continent,” he explains.

Looking at B&E’s history, it is evident that it has never suffered from a lack of ambition. Established more than four decades ago, the company has gone from strength to strength, demonstrating an ability to thrive even during the toughest economic climates.

“While we bring technical expertise into a region, our strategy is to partner with local firms, enter into joint ventures with these firms,” continues Williams.

This approach is not only the right approach but is necessary considering that many countries have legislation requirements that fall in line with B&E’s strategy for foreign/expatriate companies looking to do business in-country to partner with locally own entities.

Contracts Director Nqobile Khumalo says B&E clients can be rest assured of the Company’s commitment to their countries’ development extends to every aspect of the business.

“We also focus on community development which includes training programmes, wellness facilities, education, and local economic development,” she explains.

B&E’s core strengths

1. Turnkey service offering

Recognised primarily for its excavation services through drill, blast load and haul capabilities, B&E’s full service offering also comprises also crushing and screening. Also housed within the business are technical advisory experts who can give valuable input on mineral economics and technical processes in the early phases of  project development.

“These are not new services but have been part of our greater offering for years,” Williams points out.

“We believe that providing the industry with a turnkey service across these various activities has a variety of benefits. However, primarily, it enables clients to interact with fewer contractors on site and in doing so makes ourselves accountable for delivery across the spectrum – an easier prospect for managing site performance.”  Clients also benefit from our technical expertise.

2. Comprehensive fleet

B&E owns a +500-strong fleet of equipment including drilling machines and earthmoving equipment (trucks and excavators).

Engineering Director, Deon Rajoo says these machines have been operating on some of the company’s client sites for as long as 20 years.

“Our client retention track record easily showcases the exceptional performance we deliver for our clients, through well maintained equipment.”

Importantly, he says, B&E works only with reputable equipment brands that ensure minimal downtime and optimal operating performance.

“The company is also able to lease equipment to clients that need a quick and cost-effective solution,” Rajoo highlights. “This is thanks to the close working relationships that B&E has with its OEM providers.”

3. Technology evolution

The mining industry in Africa is taking technology evolution seriously – spurred on by COVID-19 operational restrictions and also the benefits technology delivers.

“We have done a lot of work in this regard to enhance our operating performance, the benefits of which we then pass onto our clients,” Rajoo outlines.

The company purchased asset management software – an in-shift maintenance solution that provides an accurate lifecycle position and optimal maintenance strategies.

“We have sourced further software tools that will allow effective business metrics monitoring, as well as GPS tracking forboth safety and production metrics, telematics and camera surveillance which will interact with our operations planning system,” Rajoo continues.

B&E’s technology plan further integrating autonomous drills into its fleet in a phased approach – either new machines or retrofitting autonomous technology into existing machines.

“The end goal to clients through these efforts is to improve safety and reduce our, costs to enhance our competitiveness,” reflects Business Improvement Director, Sandile Masondo.

4. Investment in people

Technical capabilities may be a significant portion of B&E’s performance, but this would be incomplete without the correctly trained personnel.

“Under the guidance of our long-standing engineers, we are actively employing newly graduated engineers as part of our equal employee and gender diversity opportunities,” says Esther Mohube, Human Capital Director. “This brings vibrancy and passion to the job as well as an understanding of current digital technologies.”

She says the business greatly benefits from providing opportunities to graduate engineers as their new ideas, fresh outlook and skills sets deliver a further added benefit to the company’s performance, over and above its family-style approach. Our very own Senior Contracts Manager, Mark Roberts, is one such example having spent his entire 25-year career with B&E since his inception as a graduate engineer.

“This is a steadfast commitment from our business and a continual and ongoing process. We believe the people in our business offer another key differentiator and this is something we should showcase to the industry,” Mohube concludes.

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