AECI, an explosives and specialty chemicals company in Africa, and Thiess, the world’s largest mining contractor, have signed a five-year agreement, signalling AECI’s entry in to Australia. In terms of the agreement, AEL Mining Services (AEL), a wholly owned subsidiary of AECI, will provide leading-edge explosives, initiating systems and technical services to Thiess in Australia.

AECI’s entry in to Australia is aligned with the company’s clearly defined international growth strategy. In addition to Australia, other geographies of interest are Africa, Brazil, Chile and Indonesia. Australia is one of the world’s largest producers of metallurgical and thermal coal and ferrous and non-ferrous metals. The explosives industry is nearly six times the size of South Africa’s.

To prepare the groundwork, AECI Australia was registered as a legal entity in 2014. At the same time, a Managing Director was appointed, an office was opened in Brisbane and a site was developed in Bajool near Rockhampton in Queensland. The site includes an ammonium nitrate emulsion manufacturing facility imported from South Africa, as well as storage space. The modular design of the manufacturing facility is deployed globally and gives AEL the flexibility to grow capacity easily in the future. All the necessary regulatory approvals are in place.

“The first 140 tons of emulsion were manufactured on 25 November 2014 and a trial blast involving 550 electronic detonators was completed on 10 January 2015. Full explosives supply will commence in February,” says Mark Dytor, Chief Executive of AECI.

Recently, Thiess concluded an extensive review of the Australian explosives industry, particularly in terms of products and services. After identifying the need for a world-class service provider committed to delivering added value in a challenging commodity cycle, they decided to approach AEL with whom they have a long-standing working relationship in Indonesia.

According to Michael Wright, Executive General Manager of Thiess in Australia, AEL is a world leader that employs highly skilled people, provides a comprehensive range of products and services and offers an international footprint that matches their global mining aspirations. “Most importantly, however, they’re fully committed to developing R&D programmes that have the capacity to drive lower cost outcomes for mines. Given the competitive and complex state of mining, the partnership has the potential to be a real game-changer in the Australian mining industry.”

Moving forward, AECI’s assets in Indonesia will be leveraged to facilitate the development of a regional supply chain framework. The company’s Australian leadership team, headed by Nigel Convey as Managing Director, is also progressing a new business pipeline, ensuring AECI’s emergence as a key role player in the Australian mining industry.

Photograph: from left to right Bruce Munro (Executive General Manager of Thiess in Australia and Mark Dytor, Chief Executive of AECI. 

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