As the mining sector looks ahead to a brighter and more sustainable future, Omnia Group company BME has built a strategic foundation to support its mining customers’ ambitious vision for the future.
While southern Africa’s mining sector was still not where it was seven or eight years ago, there has recently been improved industry performance in minerals such as gold, iron ore, platinum group metals, manganese, copper and cobalt.
According to Ralf Hennecke, BME SADC Managing Director, this was having a particularly positive impact in areas like South Africa’s Northern Cape province and on the Zambian copper belt. There were even prospects of mines reopening in Namibia if the uranium price continued to strengthen, he noted.
“Countries like Botswana have also seen better conditions in their mining industry, with increased copper and coal mining activity and the likelihood of diamond prices recovering,” said Hennecke. “The mineral potential of Zimbabwe remains significant, and there is certainly an expectation that mining will play a stronger role in its economy in the medium to long term.”
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To fully support this growth, he noted that it is no longer enough for supply partners in mining to just deliver their offerings. In addition, they need to actively participate in supporting mines’ safety and sustainability priorities through their own actions.
Aligned with the broader Omnia Group vision of “protecting life, sustaining livelihoods and leaving a better world” “BME strives to promote a sustainable environment, for instance, as integral to our core offerings,” said Hennecke. “This includes our safety record, our innovative disposal of used oil and our commitment to renewable energy.”
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The company’s safety performance was recognised last year by the Chemical and Allied Industries Association (CAIA) with an award for sustained safety performance. BME’s world-class recordable case rate of 0,11 compares well with peers in its market segment.
“We have continued to incorporate used oil as a fuel agent in our emulsion explosives, which has direct benefits for customers and the planet,” he said. “We collect this oil from mining customers, providing a valuable disposal service while reducing their environmental risk related to any potential soil or water contamination.”
BME has also been taking steps to reduce its own carbon footprint with initiatives that include the progressive installation of renewable energy across its manufacturing and assembly plants. Hennecke also highlighted the company’s recent launch of its Blast Alliance brand – representing leading digital technologies that improve on-mine efficiencies. This in turn supports mines’ efforts to reduce energy consumption and lower their carbon emissions.
“These corporate imperatives have been embraced by mining companies across the world, including our customers in southern Africa,” he said. “In this region, we have seen a welcome recovery in the minerals sector driven by a price boom in many commodities.”
As BME continues to build its footprint in Africa, he highlighted that its success has been built on a philosophy of partnership with local companies, integrity, skills sharing and social responsibility. While BME’s technical capability gives it the edge in Africa – being able to mobilise quickly in response to customer needs even under challenging conditions – it also prioritised its duties as a corporate citizen.
“This means understanding our social and compliance obligations in every country we operate in, and doing whatever we can to foster local empowerment,” he said.
Ralf Hennecke, BME’s Managing Director SADC, is a mining engineer with years of production experience in the mines of South Africa’s erstwhile mining houses Rand Mines and JCI. He joined the Omnia Group in 1995 with a key technical role in explosives and has been a member of BME’s Executive Committee since 2001. He earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in 2005.
Ralf held the role of General Manager: Customer Commercial and Marketing between 2015 and 2019, when he took on the position of General Manager: Marketing and Technology. He leads a range of functions within BME, including Global Blasting Science, Global Underground Business, Global Product Management, and Global Marketing and Branding.
He also heads up the company’s activities in Global Software Development and Technology, and Global AXXIS Electronic Development and Marketing. Ralf plays a role in Global Corporate Development and Strategy as well as Commercial Delegation of Authority and is a Director of a number of BME’s African business entities.