With little or no control over many of the challenges faced by stakeholders including rising input costs, regulatory pressures and flat commodity prices, the matter of cost has evolved to much more than just a survival tool.
It is also driving innovation and competition, which brings much needed benefits to a stagnating eco-system.
This article first appeared in Mining Elites in Africa 2019
Although a relatively new entrant to the South African market, Solar Mining Services is embracing the essentials required to help deliver a sustainable mining industry, in spite of market challenges.
In addition to investing in an emulsion manufacturing plant and accessories assembly plant situated in Middelburg, the company has also entered the market as a technology-driven company.
“Solar recognises the value technology delivers in assisting and creating safer, more efficient mining operations, but simultaneously acknowledges that such solutions need to be competitive and bring down the overall cost of mining.
Technology solutions need to make operations simpler, more efficient and more profitable and these are the operating parameters we work within,” says Charles Hurly, Solar Mining Services marketing lead.
On the horizon
Solar Mining Services is currently investing in the creation of its own blast optimizing software that will enable clients to optimally use its explosives to provide desired results.
This software is currently being project managed and will put the company in a different technological space from a practical user perspective says Hurly. “It will also enable the user to obtain pertinent visual information to allow for predictive outcomes.”
Further to this the company is also in the final stages of launching a unique APP that will give users assistance in using its products and making calculations for optimal use.
While there are many APP's in the mining game that give rule of thumb solutions and advice, Solar will distinguish itself by offering a live chat room on the APP for all parties, i.e. users, miners, explosives companies to chat and share knowledge of all items related to explosives user and application.
“The idea and concept behind this is to allow for an open platform where shared learnings can benefit all in the industry, with the intention of improving safety, productivity and experience across our industry.”
Differentiation in a competitive industry
“As a newcomer to the industry, Solar had to bring differentiating factors to the company and has done so by providing a range of highly competitive yet cost effective products that are fit-for-purpose, supported by high-level technical expertise.
"Through this offering we are confident of growing as the market evolves to consistently provide cost effective solutions for blasting.”
“This is how Solar Mining has begun to establish a competitive edge in the local market.” Its business model and costing practices that pertains to raw materials are quite different to that of existing businesses.
"Existing competitors also import ammonium nitrate to supplement their supply, but they are typically using NH3 pricing standards from Sasol Ammonia as their main nitrate formula component.
Hurly adds that industry players should not discount the savings that effective purchasing can bring to the table.
“The cost savings gained could mean the difference between prosperity and mine closure,” he says.
"Finding the right supplier is just as important as data collection, planning practices, and enforcing accuracy protocols, and streamlining operations.”